Learning to know and buy traditional Mugello products
There is nothing better than the taste of a freshly picked fruit or vegetable. There is nothing more reassuring than knowing where each morsel of food we eat comes from. There is nothing greener than buying local products.
Mugello, the Florentine farmland, produces milk, meat, oil, wine, honey, cereal, and potatoes, as well as the well-known Marrone IGP chestnut. It goes without saying that the local cuisine uses these Mugello grown ingredients to make its wholesome yet tasty dishes.
Over the years Mugello has changed: in the Province of Florence and in the Tuscan Region, the territory is identified more and more as a centre for crop growing and breeding farms. Significant changes in breeding techniques and also in the layout of its farms have been taking place.
Agriculture and the production of related goods now represent 5% of total production in Mugello compared to the 3.5 % average in the rest of Tuscany, and only 1.99% in the province of Florence. This is also confirmed by the employment rate which sees 5.9% of the population occupied in agriculture, compared to 4.4% at a regional level and 2.3% at a provincial level.
Statistics from the year 2000 show that small family run farms occupy 2/3 of the territory, 68,505 hectares, while only the remaining 26,686 hectares are run by farms employing paid help. If we then consider the amount of agricultural land used the percentage increases: 22,438 hectares of land, out of 32,110, are worked directly by landowners, while only 9,654 hectares employ paid help.
There are a total of 1,724 farms; 15,419 hectares of land are used for growing crops; 3,746 hectares for fruit trees (olives, vines, fruit); and up to 33,118 hectares are woodland. Obviously, this percentage varies as we move from Mugello to Upper Mugello.
Cattle farming is important in Mugello: in December 31, 2003, there were 383 breeding farms present on the territory with 12,325 head of cattle, of which 3,148 were for the production of milk (72 dairy farms).
An important contribution to cattle farming is made by the Centro Carni in Rabatta. It is essential for the closure of the cow-calf line, and provides protection for producers and buyers alike.
The production of milk in Mugello reaches close to 17,5 million litres a year, which means 50% of the Tuscan production that passes through the Centrale del Latte of Florence (central dairy).
Sheep farming, notwithstanding the difficulties, also occupies an important role in Mugello. There are, in fact, 10,000 head of sheep and 155 sheep farms. Unfortunately, this means a decrease of 4,000 head of sheep in ten years.
Pig farming plays an important role as well. There are 6,000 animals, and a rising number of Cinta Senese pigs.
Statistics from the year 2000 illustrate that there are 606 bird-rearing farms with 20,000 birds, 350 farms with rabbits and, curiously enough, 2 farms with 306 ostriches.
The most significant difference in agriculture in Mugello is represented by the rise in organic crop growing. In Tuscany, the Mugello territory is one of the areas that is most dedicated to organic crop growing, and the percentage of land used for growing organic crops increases notably in the town of Firenzuola. This production and environmental preference is increasing rapidly, as Arsia farm registration data, dated December 31, 2003, demonstrate.
The total number of Organic farms, converted and mixed, are 163 ( Mugello + Dicomano), of which 57 alone in the town of Firenzuola.
Some of the more highly appreciated products are the Marrone del Mugello IGP, the organic potato, and the Firenzuola farro (spelt), which is prepared and sold in handy, easy-to-use bags. Spelt and chestnuts are also used to produce beer in Firenzuola and Marradi.
In the past few years there has been a boom in olive growing in Mugello (of fine quality, no less), and this trend is growing continually. Wine growing is also on the rise, and not only is the quality of the product excellent, but the vines seem to be adapting beautifully to the Mugello climate and territory.
Among the many projects that have been developing over the past years, we must call our attention to the “Pane del Mugello” (Mugello bread) by the Toscana Cereali. This bread is made under strict Agriqualità Toscana regulations, and is produced in collaboration with agricultural associations (CIA and Coldiretti), arts and crafts associations (CNA and Confartigianato), and the chamber of commerce (Confesercenti), and is a part of the more extensive Pane Toscano DOP programme.