Made in Italy
We would like to introduce you to an Italian On the way to PlanetProof grower Dionisio L’Abbate.
Dionisio L’Abbate, co-owner of Polimnia is an On the way to PlanetProof certificate holder in the south of Italy. Together with his brother, he produces fruits and vegetables according to the requirements of the label. During a visit, Dionisio passionately talks about his land and the more sustainable products he grows there.
Dionisio’s family farm is in Polignano a Mare, an Italian town near Bari, known for its steep cliffs by the sea. At the edge of the highway is a sign that reads ‘Polimnia, the import and export of fruits and vegetables’. The driveway is a clear dividing line between unspoiled land and land on which it is cultivated. The olive trees are more than 800 years old, says the younger of the two brothers. They are given at least one meter space around the base to keep growing. The herbs and lavender planted along the road are visited by bees and butterflies.
After a warm welcome, the two brothers talk enthusiastically about the 400 hectares they inherited from their grandfather. The business connection with the Netherlands was there from the beginning. 60% of the fruit and vegetables producedl here go to the Nether ands. All these products are therefore certified with the quality mark On the way to PlanetProof.
“On the way to PlanetProof ensures that we really keep thinking smart about the most sustainable and therefore best way to work,” says Dionisio, the oldest brother. The passion is visible on his face when he talks about his land and his motivation to grow sustainably. “The landscape and the stones used to build the country houses are full of history. It’s like a museum, we must treat it with care. Still, we have to keep innovating to keep the business healthy, becoming more sustainable is the way to go for us.”
Products such as the potatoes, cabbage, endive and herbs that come from here must meet the requirements of On the Way to PlanetProof. There are more than 100 of these and they are divided into five themes: soil, water, energy & climate, waste and animal welfare. A challenge it is. When asked which theme is the most challenging for them, Dionisio answers: “That is the soil theme. This is mainly due to the great water shortage: the soil is dry, and there is little water to mix fertilizers with.” They had been meeting the requirements on water use for some time. Efficiency in water use is a requirement to make it in this region. The water is collected in century-old wells that sometimes cost as much as having a family home built.
Polimnia is one of the 6 Italian certificate holders of On the way to PlanetProof. The products of the two brothers can be found in Dutch supermarkets, for example when the product is not available from the Netherlands in that season. If Dionisio could give one message with his product to the consumer?
“Know that a lot of thought and passion went into producing this product. Even if you were to pay a few cents more, the money was used to ensure that your food was produced in a more sustainable way. By choosing On the way to PlanetProof products, you are really contributing something.”
When exporting to the Netherlands, Polimnia gets priority with the On the way to PlanetProof certificate over competitors. Dionisio gets no extra price for his more sustainable products, but commitment in the longer term. “If I wanted to get rich, I should have done something else. Sustainable business is in my DNA. I want to take good care of the land and the products I get from it. I really hope consumers take that on board when they see ‘Made in Italy’ on the packaging.”