In the woods, the pastures, and the highlands… We care for nature

Imagine sitting in a meadow full of flowers and herbs, or walking through a chestnut grove, and finding it clean and tidy.

Imagine sitting in a meadow full of flowers and herbs, or walking through a chestnut grove, and finding it clean and tidy.

One of the features areas that we have designed for Terra Madre—and which you’ll find under the big canopy in Parco Dora—is a space dedicated to the highlands (agrosilvopastoral systems) and to those who manage and care for them.

The act of caring is a fundamental part of the story of forests, meadows, and mountain pastures that Slow Food tells in this space. This is not a pristine wild forest or isolated meadow, but a place of relationships between humans and other living things, a place where we can play out part in nature as stewards and guardians of delicate mountain ecosystems, often with the help of domesticated animals.

With this space, our intention is to show how caring for nature can contribute to the regeneration of highland territories and true wellbeing for the communities that live in them. Here we’ve provided just a preview of what to expect in this space. We invite you to come experience for yourselves the beauty and potential expressed in ecosystems that are managed with kindness.

We care for nature… In pastures and meadows: The permanent meadows project

Permanent meadows are perfect examples of a balanced relationship between humans and nature, and between production and respect for the environment. They represent an environmental, social, cultural, and economic heritage that can change the future of the highlands and also regenerate the exhausted soils of the lowlands, where intensive livestock farming and agriculture have lost their connection with nature and compromised the very vitality of the land.

A meadow is called “permanent” when it is not plowed, tilled, or weeded for long periods, and not treated with pesticides. In permanent meadows, species propagate naturally. Humans play an important role in these meadows, mowing and maintaining them, and managing some of their most important allies: cows, sheep, goats, and pollinators.

In this section of the itinerary, we’ll tell you about Slow Food’s ideas concerning:

  • Pastoralism, the cooperation between humans and animals (different breeds of cattle, sheep, and goats), which results in extraordinary products, from milk and butter to cheese and wool.
  • Highland agriculture, which many refer to as “heroic” because it involves difficult manual labor: sowing, harvesting, and building dry stone walls and terraces.
  • Beekeeping and the production of honey that, just like mountain pasture cheeses, perfectly captures all the complexity and flavor of a flowering meadow.
  • Coexistence with the wild animals—pollinators, insects, birds—that make their homes in, and benefit from human management of, pastures and meadows.

Do your part: Learn more and sign the “Let’s save pastures and permanent meadows” manifesto.

We care for nature… In the forests: The chestnut growers’ network

Chestnut trees capture carbon dioxide, stabilize steep mountain slopes that would otherwise be vulnerable to landslides, and, if properly cared for, prevent forest fires. Well-managed chestnut groves are truly beautiful, valuable places that can become destinations for conscientious tourism. For a long time, chestnut cultivation (or “castaniculture”) was neglected, but today there is renewed interest in this noble vocation and its contributions to the environmental, economic, and social regeneration of highland territories is widely recognized.

In this section of the itinerary, we’ll tell you about Slow Food’s ideas concerning:

  • The recovery of castaniculture, including the protection and diffusion of local chestnut varieties.
  • Local culture as expressed through the rural architecture linked to chestnut processing.
  • Possibilities for spreading and innovating on the gastronomic potential of chestnuts and chestnut products.

This new Slow Food network gathers communities, convivia, producers, chefs, and technicians with a shared interest in regenerating the highlands through the promotion of traditional chestnut cultivation and its associated knowledge and skills, and in creating projects to protect and develop strategic resources that can offer new opportunities in the foothills of the Alps and Apennines.

The chestnut growers’ network began during OltreTerra 2021 (an event in Emilia-Romagna from November 5-6, 2021), where the first draft of the manifesto “The chestnut, a strategic resource for rural and highland areas” was written; and with an event in Capranica Prenestina, Lazio, held from November 26-28, 2021.

By bringing together people with different skills in chestnut cultivation, the network facilitates the exchange of positive practices and the blending of tradition knowledge with creative innovation.

Come and see us! This space will host debates, conferences, and meetings with producers, as well as tastings. The calendar of events will be available at the end of July.

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Terra Madre Salone del Gusto is organized by Slow Food, the City of Turin and the Piedmont Region. Join us in Parco Dora, Turin, from Thursday, September 26 to Monday, September 30, 2024, and explore how food can restore our relationship with nature. #TerraMadre2024

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