and breeders guardians Parma
and breeders guardians Parma
Biodiversity is a term widely used today, sometimes abused. But what it actually means? The word originates from the Greek and refers to the different ways in which nature expresses itself on our planet. All the different species of animals and plants that we see every day are the result of biodiversity. Of the great heritage of this part is defined agricultural biodiversity, that is the set of plant varieties and animal breeds that were once used in a certain territory and characterized it since all the food and wine traditions developed with them, landscape, of cultural and historical heritage of that place and of the people who lived it. The identity of a territory is also preserved through the memories of the flavors and aromas linked to an era that has just passed. Any food, in essence, for a long time it has maintained an evident connection between the peasant culture that had originated it and its own productive "talents"; for example, many local cattle breeds were simultaneously employed in different uses (milk production, meat and work), or many denominations of indigenous fruits or animals contain clear traces of the place of origin or of the prevalent use. In recent time, the evolution of the agricultural model of Western countries, but not only, has led to the marginalization of the interest and use of local varieties and breeds. The need to standardize production, increase yields and obtain homogeneous productions regardless of the place of production, it has in fact determined a considerable marginalization of the genetic patrimony of indigenous resources. fao, for example, estimates that three quarters of the genetic biodiversity of agricultural crops have disappeared in the last century, so much so that currently the human food supply depends on only a few species of plants, (only with rice, wheat, corn, millet and sorghum feeds on 60% of the world's population). Many of these varieties and breeds are now extinct, then lost forever, but others, on the other hand, have been preserved thanks to the farmers and breeders who are custodians, people who knew and wanted to preserve this ancient genetic heritage made up of particular aromas and flavors. Parma is known worldwide for its agri-food tradition. In fact, there are numerous food and wine products linked to the food valley. It is no coincidence that it has been named the Italian city of Unesco gastronomy. All this success is due not only to the ability of the transforming artisans (cheesemakers, I dried up) and the cultivation area, but also thanks to the quality of the original product from which we started. Ingredients, however, which today are in danger of extinction. Moreover today, along with this awareness, citizens and institutions are becoming aware that the resources currently present on the territory are constitutive of local biodiversity, despite having suffered progressive erosion, they are still partly present and in their variety they constitute a richness that can be known above all, protected and promoted. Fortunately, for some years a recovery work has been carried out by various public and private realities of the territory which have led to a partial enhancement of this ancient germplasm. There is also in Parma the "Association of Breeders and Guardian Farmers of Parma" which aims to preserve and enhance this heritage. This biodiversity protection project continues and is developing within the Rivalta di Lesignano dè Bagni Rural Park, Parma, where they are grown beyond 2.500 fruit plants and vines of ancient varieties.
Enzo Melegari has taught for over thirty years at the Fabio Bocchialini Agricultural Technical Institute in Parma and has dedicated his life to biodiversity, especially the plant world in the search for ancient fruits. A long, constant, that resulted from the early 80's to beat at the carpet the whole of the province of Parma, Piacenza and Reggio Emilia in search of ancient fruit patriarchs who were saved by stealing from their owners the customs and food and wine traditions linked to them. Each variety was then saved by playing with the graft these ancient varieties in a field catalog at the same school coming in to collect more than 700 variety of old fruit, one of the first and most complete collections existing in Italy. A precursor of the study and the recovery of biodiversity. All this without any economic return, without any recognition, often unfairly criticized, but driven only by love for research, from the love for the conservation of our rural cultural heritage.