Colours, tastes, light, territory. Entering Cittadellarte’s straw hut it’s impossible not to be impressed by the variety of products on display: fruit, vegetables and numerous local specialties. The senses are activated by the inviting smells, the colours draw your eyes and the tastings introduce you to the flavours. A show where the actors are the local producers, illustrating to the customers the uniqueness of their products and the story of their activities. The common denominator of their scripts is “healthy eating”. This is the market of the association Let Eat Bi, which – since 2015 – has also been a weekly point of sale of local, seasonal and organic fruit and vegetables. Central to this special market are the partner farmers, who sell not only raw but also transformed products like juices and jams. It is one of the staple projects of the association itself: Let Eat Bi, launched with a vast network of partners including other associations, cooperatives, social enterprises and territorial communities, combines farming, culture and conviviality, with particular attention to social inclusion and the link with the territory. Let Eat Bi is always open to new collaborations with local producers (of organic fruit and vegetables in particular), offering them a space in the market, increasing its offer of local specialties.
This article is the first stop in the journey of discovery of the Let Eat Bi’s partners who every Wednesday sell their products at the market. The curtain rises on Il frutteto di Bersej, a farm at Frazione Granero 120 in Portula (BI). Agostino Fecchio has told us the story of his activity and revealed the peculiarities of his products: “My wife Chiara and I – says Agostino – inherited the orchard from my father-in-law. We took over even if we were not skilled farmers and at the very beginning, in 2008, we had to deal with an overproduction of apples; we didn’t know how to dispose of them, and the solution was to produce a large quantity of juice”. Over time, this activity started by chance has become an employment: “Considering the crisis, – continues the owner – in 2012 we decided to officially start the company, selling our products at little markets”.
What products do they offer? “We transform fruit into jam and chutney, – explains Agostino – our recipes are inspired to Bianca Rosa Zumaglini’s, a local writer known for her recipe books. We work with all our fruit: pears, plums, cherries, blueberries, redcurrants, blackberries and raspberries. From the apples we produce vinegar, juice and dried slices”.
The juices are in fact one of their staple products: “They are entirely organic, – says the farmer – the apple juice, pasteurized, is made of fruit only, while the others contain only 5% of cane sugar”. Their gem is the canestrelli: “Our only baked product, – continues Agostino – they are biscuits made following a recipe of late Medieval origin typical of Crevacuore. They are different from Piedmontese canestrelli, ours contain wholemeal flour, sweet and bitter cocoa, butter, sugar, red wine, rum and spices.”
As mentioned, all the products from Il frutteto di Bersej are absolutely organic, no chemicals are used in the fields. “With time – continues Agostino – this job has turned into a passion. When you find yourself in a serene environment, where nature has so much to offer, it’s easy to be motivated to do your best. Collaborations have also helped us grow: with Slow Food Biella, with Slow Food Valsesia and – since October 2017 – with Let Eat Bi. And it is thanks to this last partnership that every Wednesday we offer our products at Cittadellarte’s market. We joined Let Eat Bi since we share the same philosophy of respect for nature, of support and development of small producers who farm the territory in a natural way”. The interview closed with a last thought: “I thank my wife Chiara for strongly believing in this project from the very beginning. We split the workload: I take care of the heavier manual labour, like working the juicing press or producing jams, while she does all the cooking of the products.”
A great team that, with passion, transforms their fruit creating natural products of excellence on a daily basis; flavours able to inspire a responsible, healthy and sustainable consumption.