The Tetto Bernardo farm covers 70 hectares and is located in the municipality of Cuneo, at the foot of two beautiful valleys that extend below the Italian Alps; the Stura Valley and the Grana Valley. We are located at an altitude of 540 metres, which is considered the ideal altitude for apple cultivation.
Until the end of the 19th century, the area where we are located was called the "Dragon's Tail Region". This is due to the fact that a current of air blows all year round, characterising the microclimate of the farm. This current improves the air quality in the area, and consequently improves the quality of the apples as well.
For this reason, apples have been cultivated for more than a century in this highly productive and fertile area. It is bordered to the south by Bisalta, to the south-west by Argentera and Monte Matto, to the north-west by Monviso, and to the north by Monte Rosa.
The company was founded in 1961 and we have been producing apples for three generations. On this farm we grow Royal gala apples and Mele Inored (we have land on other farms where we grow kiwis as well!). Two river water canals that come directly from the Stura di Demonte river cross the farm, and it is also equipped with 3 wells for drip irrigation. This method provides up to 3 litres of water per hour per plant, and we decided to use precision drip irrigation as it is automatic and controlled. We are very careful to measure the water usage well because we know that it is a valuable resource. To determine the amount of water needed, we do not use a single formula, rather we try to take into account various factors - both climatic and precise field analyses - to assess the areas that need the most water. Of course the most critical time that requires the most water is the summer period.
The cultivation here is organic, meaning that we do not use chemical compounds. We rely heavily on the concept of integrated pest management and biological control using useful insects such as ladybirds, chrysopaea, and hoverflies, that we introduce to our orchards: ladybirds, chrysopaea and hoverflies. Our rows are covered with grass, which is a clear sign that we do not use chemical herbicides or pesticides. Our grassed rows have become essential as they increase the biodiversity of the field by providing shelter for beneficial insects that can help us fight pathogens and harmful insects.
In addition to the turf, we are planning a new project with some local landscapers and agronomists. We will be planting field hedges, and the aim of the project is to increase biodiversity on the farm. Field hedges are made up of native flora which attract and provide shelter for native micro-fauna. We have already experimented with this on some plots and the results were so good that we decided to use this field hedge scheme for almost all of our plots. In addition to their agronomic value, these field hedges have a high aesthetic value as many of the species used produce fantastic, brightly coloured, and intensely scented flowers.
The work team is made up of 14 people; myself, my sister, and regularly employed staff, 2 of whom have been working in the company since the 1980s. The others have been with the company since 2012, and all are paid according to the laws of national contracts.
We follow all the rules of Global Gap certification and Grasp certification for waste management. With the by-products we produce fruit juices and purees. Even a small part of the compost we use is produced internally, and the rest is bought externally.