Italy, known for its food and gastronomy still sustains their culture and traditions. While walking through the lanes and streets one feels the reminiscence of European novels dating back to few hundred years. The ancient architecture is restored and preserved for the future generations to visualize history in their surroundings. Certain provinces have restrictions on the use of certain colors of paint on their houses. During my morning walks it was a common scene to see the elders of the house busy cleaning the surroundings of the house. They look like a tribe of clean freaks!
In the past 2 years I had an opportunity to visit Italy 4 times. People are very friendly, I consider it as my second home. There is a growing awareness on safe, nutritious and local food. Large number of Italians are concerned about the rising popularity of junk food outlets in cities. However, several little towns have farmers markets where local farmers sell their produce. Farmers sell fruits, vegetables, breads and a variety of local food.
This local movement of creating awareness in regenerative urban gardening was started by Ms. Michela Savia who came to know about my work in Bhutan and other countries after reading several articles on the internet. Michela is the proprietor of an Ayurvedic spa in Borgomonero near Milan. She along with a group of women were interested to learn low-cost farming methods utilizing the resources available locally and promote these practices to a large group of rural and urban farmers. Though organic agriculture or regenerative agriculture systems are becoming popular, farmers and gardeners are still dependent on purchased inputs like compost, growth promoting sprays and bio-pesticides. It defeats the very purpose of regenerative gardening.
Nature provides all the requirements for proper functioning of a healthy plant or animal. If we could mimic the forest ecosystems where every plant and animal cooperates and shares the resources. Moreover, the waste of one is the resource of the other. If the same principles are used in gardening farmers can be independent and self-reliant. For example, the fallen leaves, pruned litter, hedge clippings, weeds, food and kitchen wastes are disposed as trash. My workshops in Italy were focused on how to use the wastes in gardening as a resource. It was well attended by several people and now there are several examples of success by people who are adopting these simple low-cost practices in their gardens or farms.