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ORTOFORESTA

is a Regenerative Market Garden in Florence, Italy - run by Tessa & Dario.


We grow and sell vegetables and fruit in an agroforestry system 
while regenerating the ecosystem, soil health, nutrient density, biodiversity and community. ​


In our work, we integrate the methods of biointensive no-dig market gardening and syntropic agriculture.​
To learn more about our ethos and methods, please v
isit the Ethos section below or take a look at our blog.​

Follow us on social media

  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
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OUR  TEAM

Dario is a Sicilian (although he pretends to be British) market gardener and educator.


He is fascinated by the interplay of ecosystem dynamics, plant physiology, soil microbiology

and human wellbeing and nutrition. 

His work is motivated by the following question: what does it mean for a human being to fulfil its ecological role - that is - to be truly wild?

When he's not farming, he teaches courses in regenerative horticulture or consults for small farms and homesteads.

Before moving to Florence in 2023, he co-founded Living Soil Garden, a no-dig market garden in Exeter, UK.
In a past life, he worked as a research scientist in biophysics and as a teacher.

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Tessa is a (slightly louder and funnier than average) German vegetable grower and gastronome.

What truly drives her is exploring farming methods that create a thriving environment for humans, animals, plants and microbes in harmony with the ecosystem.

She loves connecting  with people through food growing, preserving, cooking, eating and sharing. 

 

When not in the field, she works for an Organic Producer Association based in Berlin. 

Before joining OrtoForesta, she studied Gastronomic Sciences in Piemonte, Italy and worked on a variety of small-scale farms around Germany.

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Interns, Woofers & Volunteers 

are an important part of our team. Each season, we accept a small number of selected volunteers who are keen to train as market gardeners, land workers and food producers.

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HOW WE GROW

Here at OrtoForesta, we aim to grow food

while regenerating our landscape and nurturing natural ecosystems.

Some believe that tweaking modern agriculture might be enough to produce food without destroying our planet. But we are not interested in this.
What is needed, in our view, is to entirely rethink the way we interact with the natural world, and design practices that not only sustain,

but regenerate the ecosystems we are part of.

The cornerstones of our practice are:

​​

Disturb the soil as little as possible

The first principle of Regenerative Horticulture is to avoid unnecessary soil disturbance. We adopt no-till soil management, which means that we do not rotavate or dig our beds. This protects and promotes a thriving and biologically active soil life network, which in turn improves plant health, nutrient-density and increases carbon storage.

Maximise Photosynthesis & Keep the Soil Covered

In nature, the soil is always covered - either by living plants or by organic residue.
Bio-intensive spacings, interplanting and agroforestry stratification allow us to keep our beds densely planted and productive year-round, and to maximise photosynthesis, which is the powerhouse of our ecosystems.
We imitate nature also by keeping the entire surface of our farm covered in organic materials. We do so by applying mulch materials such as compost, woodchip and manure, and by growing cover crops.
By guaranteeing a constant influx of energy via photosynthesis and a protective and nutritious mulch layer, we feed the life in our soil and regenerate its health.

No Synthetic Chemicals

This should be self-explanatory.

Promote Biodiversity

By not using any pesticides, herbicides or fungicides we reduce our impact on our ecosystem biodiversity.
We interplant perennial and annual crops and flowers, and our agroforestry rows act as bridges between the neighbouring river and the surrounding forest
This provides all the life forms that visit or live in our garden with a variety of habitats and foods, and promotes vegetal, animal (including human) and insect diversity above ground, as well as microbial and mineral diversity below ground.


Seasonal & Local

We grow only seasonal vegetables and sell them locally. This reduces the necessity for energy-intensive ways to lengthen the growing season, and limits the impact of delivering our products to customers.
 

On-Farm Nursery

We grow our own seedlings starting from seed. This makes our operation less dependent on imported materials and allows us to control the journey of our produce from seed to table.

Soil Fertility built from local waste streams

We do not use any synthetic amendments to build the fertility of our soil. All of the organic matter we apply to our beds comes from local waste streams. We use farm-based resources such as vermicompost, thermophilic compost and bio-fertilisers as inoculants and fertility inputs.
 

Questioning the use of Plastic

We are constantly questioning the opportunity and sustainability of the materials we use. Although plastic is ubiquitous in agriculture, we are making efforts towards the reducing its use in food production.

We are still using plastic materials for initial weed suppression (silage tarps), polytunnel cover (transparent polyethylene), propagation (with durable and recycled trays) and pest protection (nylon insect netting). However, by applying regenerative principles, planting trees for shade, and cultivating season-appropriate crops we are already reducing our reliance on plastics. 

TOURS  &  VISITS

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We welcome members of our local community  to visit the farm and see what we do. If you are interested in visiting OrtoForesta in person, we invite you to book a place on one of our Farm Tours (see list below). After booking, you will receive an email with further instructions on the event and on how to reach us.


Please note that all the tours will be in Italian.

 

  • Sunday 14th of April 2024

  • Sunday 21st of July 2024

Book a place by emailing us at info@ortoforesta.it

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