Our company is called TERRADIVA for two main reasons. The first: we would like the agriculture of Southern Italy to be more ... Diva! We wish no one was ashamed of being peasants, farmers, or had to encourage their children to leave from small villages, from inland areas, as they have done for generations, because “there’s just the land to work” and thus no worthy future. Terradiva is our way to restore a little beauty and dignity to agriculture.
Also, and that’s the second reason for our choice, the name TERRADIVA reminds us of one myth of the goddess Minerva, one of the origins of the name of our very own town of Minervino Murge.
Minerva won against Poseidon in the challenge to be the god of Athens, by giving her people the most useful gift – the olive tree, which was at the same time a source of nourishment, light through the lamps and wellbeing through skin care. We began our business adventure with organic extra virgin olive oil, so we feel particularly attached to this legend.
The farm is located in Southern Italy, in Puglia, in Minervino Murge, a town at the gates of the Alta Murgia National Park. Minervino lies on two hills from which it is possible to observe a panorama up to 100 km away. It is a town rich in traditions, with a historic center of alleys and stairs, churches, and caves to explore.
In TERRADIVA we grow almond trees, olive trees and vineyards. We have fields sown with cereals, and among our crops there are also other wild plants such as: rocket, mustard, poppies, thistles, daisies, rosemary, oregano, thyme, oaks, downy oaks, pomegranates, perastri, and wild almond trees.
The fields belonging to Terradiva are scattered over the territory of Minervino Murge, but located in different areas, and they are surrounded by many other fields cultivated by local farmers with olive trees, vineyards, fruit trees, but also by the Alta Murgia Park, a protected natural area rich in rocky ridges, rolling hills, karst cavities, pastures, oak and conifer woods.
TERRADIVA is located in an internal area of Southern Italy, an area with great potential: the landscape, the local history and culture, the conservation of nature, the quality gastronomic heritage. Unfortunately they are often not recognized or valued. The level of employment and the wealth are pretty low, and we are in an area at great risk of depopulation.
With the work on our organic farm we make a contribution to the territory in terms of youth employment but also of protection of the territory, prevention of hydrogeological instability (by planting trees where before there was only cereal cultivation), and the enhancement of typical local products. We also try to promote our area of origin in Italy and abroad through our participation in trade fairs and guided tours of the farm and the area that we offer to visitors.
The Terradiva brand was founded in 2015. We can count on a strong agricultural tradition and expertise that come from a history of family farming that has its roots in the early 1900s.
The history of our farm begins in the early 1900s. At that time our great-grandparents already worked the land around our town, then our grandparents Paolo and Vincenzo continued their work as farmers: Paolo was a passionate cereal grower, while Vincenzo moved to Minervino Murge as an olive tree pruner.
Our father Michele, who has always been involved in the world of agriculture, since the late 90s has enlarged and improved the company, making it organic and planting many new crops that were not there before: olive trees, almond trees and vineyards.
At the end of 2015, after developing our careers in different directions, my sister Angela and I decided to come back to the fold and to found a brand that would allow us to close the supply chain and reach the market with a finished product.
At the beginning it was just an experiment, but since 2018 it has become our main occupation. We started our adventure with oil, in recent years we have added almonds, Apulian taralli and gift ideas to our catalog. In 2020 we inaugurated our new Terradiva headquarters in Minervino Murge, and that is where we now store and package all of our products.
At the end of 2016 Katharina Pönisch joined the family and business adventure, moving from Germany to Minervino Murge, firstly as my life partner, and then together with Angela we have built a work team with different skills and experiences and therefore very useful.
In Terradiva we often host visitors who come for guided walks among our trees and product tastings. Since 2019 we have been part of La Ferula Magica, a project that aims to welcome travelers who love slow, active travel, in contact with the local community.
For irrigation we use the water that comes from the Locone artificial reservoir, very close to our town and lands. A hectare of olive trees tend to need 1,500 cubic meters of water per year, while one single almond tree needs 1,000 cubic meters of water. Half of our olive groves and 3 of the 16 hectares of almond groves have a drip irrigation system, where the water comes out in controlled drops right next to the plant. Our water saving efforts consist in using the drip system and, where possible, to irrigate exclusively at night (in order to reduce the amount of water that evaporates).
To improve the soil quality and health, we amend the soil not only with fertilisers but also add pruning residues, organic waste and mussel valve to enhance organic matter. Where the soil is generally poorer in organic matter and microelements we sow clover and vetch (nitrogen fixing plants) to enrich it and reduce soil erosion by wind and water.
The whole farm is cultivated with the organic farming method. Our father Michele decided to practice exclusively organic farming since 1998 because he believes in the positive impact this has on the environment and biodiversity. He often tells us that he would like our planet's natural resources to be sufficient for his children, grandchildren and future generations as well. In addition, growing without the use of synthetic chemical compounds avoids the farmers themselves coming into contact with substances that are harmful to their health.
To defend the plant from various attacks, we only use substances allowed by organic farming such as: copper, sulfur, bacillus, zeolite (rock dust), kaolin, lime. For the nourishment of our plants we instead use: nitrogen, potassium, iron, microelements, organic fertilizers.
The grass cut between our trees is always left on the ground as nourishment, while through spontaneous vegetation we favor the presence of insects in our fields.
There are about 12 of us working on the farm, however the number varies because it depends on the weather conditions, the cultivation phases of almond and olive trees during the year, and the fluctuations in sales. The team has grown slowly since the creation of the brand, at the end of 2015. Within the business, all workers receive a salary in line with the agricultural sector’s collective contract. When traveling between areas of the farm that are distant from each other, we make our means of transport available to workers. At the end of the fruit harvesting phases, we celebrate all together with a collective meal.
We constantly monitor the status of sales of packaged products, and our goal is to sell all our production under the Terradiva brand. When there is an excess of production, though, we sell part of this in the wholesale market.
An important part of our work consists in selecting, before harvesting, the trees in the field in order to choose those with the healthiest olives for transformation into organic extra virgin olive oil under our brand.
In the case of almonds, we select the fruits manually after shelling, eliminating micro-shells of almonds that are not removed by the machine, smaller and poorly hydrated almonds or even broken almonds. All this takes place in order to offer a first choice product that is preserved at best and for a long time.
We do not have a composting area so the pruning residues are chopped and left in the field, as are the residual leaves of the harvest.