You may have already heard of the man who has found a place for around 500 forgotten fruit and vegetable varieties to flourish in South Tyrol. This is Harald Gasser, from the Aspingerhof farm in Barbian – South Tyrol’s vegetable rarity star par excellence! Nor does he spray his crops – even with organic substances.
Harald Gasser, a rather different kind of "organic farmer”
Agriculture in South Tyrol is characterised by its large farms, but above all by its small ones. Most farms here are small-scale family farms that produce fruit, vegetables, milk and meat, often on a part-time basis. Harald Gasser, a vegetable farmer from Saubach in the municipality of Barbian, has turned his back on conventional agriculture. He grows forgotten and rare varieties, such as Chinese artichokes, tiger nuts, lucky clover beets – yet many people have never heard of such niche products, which means that Harald Gasser and his customers can enjoy these true rarities all the more!
In his words: “For years now I have avoided all forms of spraying. If pests occur, I don’t ask myself what nature is doing wrong or what I can do to beat the pests, but rather what I myself can do better. So I have used certain plants as bait to keep the pests away from the fruit and vegetables and I do everything by hand – there are no machines carving up the soil”. Initially, Gasser faced some setbacks. It took seven years for some varieties to produce a first harvest. But he can live well from his alternative vegetable cultivation: and he wants to pass on his knowledge, so he regularly invites local farmers to his farm.
Recently, host and chef Hannes Rainer from the Vitalpina Naturhotel Rainer and several of his local suppliers visited Harald Gasser to help them learn from this enterprising young farmer. “I mainly use regional and seasonal products in my kitchen, and live as far as possible in harmony with nature. I also expect that from my suppliers, i.e. the farmers that I work with from the surrounding area. That’s why it is very important for me to introduce them to Harald Gasser’s philosophy”, says Hannes Rainer.
The green start-up: MANNAorganic
Harald Gasser wants to enable farmers to produce good food, earn appreciation for their work and receive a fair price for their produce, so that they can once more enjoy working in and with nature. It has not until now been very easy for normal consumers to obtain his products as, to date, he has delivered mainly on order to selected catering establishments.
Recently, the fine fare produced by Harald Gasser and six other farmers from the Eisack Valley has become available not just from the farm, but also at a new common location: MANNAorganic in the village of Waidbruck in the Eisack Valley. All fruit and vegetables at MANNAorganic have one thing in common: they are healthy, diverse and natural. Why not stop by on your next visit to South Tyrol?!
See the story of Harald Gasser in this video.
Sources: RAI Tagesschau, Wochenmagazin FF.