With WWOOF I learned to grow ancient cereals
Tired of the work and the sense of discomfort that I felt for some time, in 2014 I talked with my wife Annalisa about my desire to live in the countryside but at that point it seemed only an unattainable fantasy because we had no experience. So we decided to join WWOOF and in April of 2015 I left for my first trip.
I arrived at the Boschi del Castagno Valmorel Belluno and at the station I was picked up by Eugenio who runs the farm with Isabella, two fantastic people. The first thing I asked him was am I doing the right thing to leave everything and start this uncertain journey? I will never forget his answer: “I do not know if you are doing the right thing, I only know that I regret not having done it earlier”.
The second trip was with Annalisa and our daughters. We found ourselves at the Icolao, a small farm run by Laura and Francesco who made us passionate about ancient cereals. Here I discovered for the first time spelt, the oldest cereal in the world, which to us ignorant citizens was completely unknown. I discovered (and still continue to learn …) how to recognize the ears of various cereals, distinguish a ‘Senatore Cappelli’ from a ‘Gentil Rosso’, the milling techniques and in general the different ways of processing flour. I learned how to prepare the soil, how to sow following the tables according to the type of cereal, crop rotation and everything needed for cultivation. Even understanding when a grain is ready is not always easy, colour helps but this is not enough. So they taught me how to taste the grain: when it feels hard enough we start the threshing.
During WWOOFing we discovered a beautiful territory in Abruzzo where we could settle and were we are also lucky to have a nice network of hosts that supports us. Another important meeting was at Rucasa 1130 with Ciro and his family where we further enriched our knowledge on bread making and cereals. I understood the difference in yield and processing of the various flours, how to use the yeast and a technique of folding and dough that gives excellent results.
Soon we will begin to give life to our project in the realization of a small workshop with a mill and pasta factory where we can directly transform our grains.