This is a continuation of our farmers portrait series which was started late spring 2020 during the first COVID-19 wave. While the situation has evolved since then many people working on the land are still strongly impact by the pandemic and the way it has been managed. These interviews have not been conducted with what we can ”traditionally define” as “farmers”, but with people committed to an agricultural and community project, who make natural farming and food self-sufficiency as cornerstone of their projects. This interview was conducted in early summer 2020.
Where and what do you farm?
We are an ecovillage under construction. Our basic project is based on agricultural self-sufficiency and home schooling. We have about 3 and half hectares of land in Calabria, mild climate, 300 metres above sea level. We have olive trees, some citrus fruit trees, several other fruit trees, and a little vegetable garden for self-consumption. We tend to cultivate in a natural, synergic way… as an example, we try to mix about everything by putting the salad and the onions on the edges of the garden, the flowers and the aromatic herbs at the headboards … and we also made a circle. And finally at the edge the wild strawberries.
In what ways do you experience the Coronavirus measures affecting your work and life as a farmer?
Let’s say that before the first restrictions of March 10, 2020 came into force, we were already on the land, so our daily routine was not much disturbed. We also exchange goods with the neighoubours, so practically we went very seldomly to do some shopping. Of course, we could feel the worry and fear among our relatives living in the city. What impacted us the most was the fact we could not welcome a new family and workaway volunteers.
In winter the isolation went well, but in spring (April), it was tough, as days became longer, and there was much more work to do. I felt overwhelmed by the things we had to do and of course if we would have people who helped us it would have much more peaceful. We also like to be with like-minded people, we feel enriched by relationships and the fact that this was blocked had an impact on us.
Do you feel that the general public attitude towards your work or more generally towards rural realities has changed since the Coronavirus crisis?
Well… my partner would say that this crisis helped people who were already along a certain path to make the final steps towards a more sustainable life. As for me, my thoughts are unfortunately more pessimistic and what I can see is just a lot of fear, and fear of death, in people. In this case, I see how hygiene comes at the expense of ecology, just think about all non-reusable facial masks littered in the streets… In my opinion, globally the level of consciousness and has lowered. Although some things could move in a positive way, my thinking is pessimistic. Especially on the global social control that has been put in place. Especially in countries such as Italy and Spain, which are accostumed to the catholic tradition of fearing things and of being subjected.
More info about the project can be found here: https://terragi.wordpress.com/