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Maria Grazia Barone: musician involved in olive oil

From music studies to olive growing. The big jump of a family with passion for rural countryside and for environment

Maria Grazia Barone is the chief of the farm Arcaverde. For many years she has devoted to musicological studies and teaching music, but by 1992 she began to treat the farm inherited from grandparents, supported by her husband, Arnaldo Caruso, a doctor by profession with a passion for olive trees.

Why do you decide to make business in farming?
In 1992 my husband and I decided to restore the farm that once owned to my grandparents. We wanted to renovate the cultivations and create a modern and productive farm. At that time we were young, enthusiastic and self confident so we started the job from the worst crop: an old and withered grape-yard completely infested by bushes of brooms that we wanted to transform in an olive-grove. Immediately we realized that we would have met many difficulties, the first and the biggest was the bad consideration we got from the peasants of the village (Cerchiara di Calabria), nobody trust us since it sounded strange that two persons usually living in a big town from northern Italy and involved in activities so far from agriculture (a music teacher and a medical doctor) could be successful in growing olive trees. Our only help in the field was a retired, asthmatic peasant that cut all the brooms with an axe! Many peasants come in to our field, but only to see what was going on, to tell us that we were doing wrong every single step and to make the prediction of a complete failure since we weren’t following the traditional methods of cultivation. Anyway, against all the peasants odds, we reached our aim: we planted our first 150 olive trees that wonderfully took root and grew and now it is the highest olive-grove (750 mt. above see) in that area. But the biggest success we reached was to realize that our endurance changed peasants mind who now trust us a lot more!

Do you feel more a peasant, a farmer or a business men?
I tray to perform all these figures every time it is required, but what I mainly like to do is exploring and investigating the olive and olive oil world.

A definition of farming.
The most important activity for surviving of mankind.

An adjective for defining the world of farming.

A keyword for the future of farming.
To find a compromise between profit and respect of environment.

A model men.
During my life I met few outstanding people and I received from them I kind of guiding light to follow, but I think that every human being has something good to give to other people and I try to get it.

Someone to… go to the hell.
Egotistic people.

A book concerning the rural world you’d suggest to read.
I find very interesting reading ancient roman naturalists treatises about agriculture, for example Columella De re rustica. In the fifth book he talks about olive trees, techniques of cultivation and methods for extracting oil and it is very surprising to realize what a big knowledge in olive-growing Latin‘s had.

Your favorite book.
The Grapes of Wrath. A novel published in 1939 by John Steinbeck.

Your favorite song or composition.
Music is my first great love, so it’s difficult to choose my favorite composition. If I have to select I would say Beethoven Piano Sonata n° 32 op. 111.

Your unforgettable movie.
Cotton Club.

What would you like to find after passing away?
I’m not sure there’s something after death, but if it was… I would be in a dimension of peace and love and be again with all the people I loved during life.

by T N
03 october 2011, Food Notes > The Farmers