The Orto di Liguria was founded in 1919 thanks to Antonio Anfossi, doctor in chemistry and worker in the sugar industry. He decided Bastia, a hamlet of Albenga, not far from his town of origin, Onzo, would be the place to develop his own agricultural company. At that time the crops were very varied and involved floral, horticultural, olive trees and vines. This passion was inherited by his son Luigi and then by Mario, the youngest of Luigi's 4 sons. Mario joined the company in 1976 and is one of the current owners.
In September 1980, a hailstorm in Albenga of unprecedented proportions seriously damaged the building roof and the basil field. But in a short time Mario restarted its production structure, and thanks to our long-time friendship, we worked together taking advantage of his experience and my skills. Thus, a partnership began destined to last until today, which led to a modernization of the production systems and a careful selection of crops, with particular attention to those specialties linked to tradition and the land.
The Orto di Liguria is a group of various basil producers and covers an area of 12 hectares, an amount that could make the large estates of northern Italy smile, which are now agricultural industries in all respects. However it is a "huge" figure for a region like Liguria, with fragmented and scattered lands in the plain of Albenga. This means that the collection requires the use of extremely small and delicate machines that preserve the quality of the product. For harvesting, we use small battery-powered machines to avoid releasing heavy metals and pollutants into the field via the exhaust pipes. The electricity we use to recharge the batteries is produced by our photovoltaic system.
The microclimate, characterized by mild temperatures and sea and mountain breezes, guarantees the temperature range between day and night favorable to the fragrance of the typical aromas of Ligurian basil: absolute absence of mint scent, very intense and pleasant aroma, and the light green color of the leaves.
L'Orto di Liguria not only produces DOP Basil, but cultivates Taggiasca variety of olives present throughout the Ligurian Ponente up to the border. The Taggiasca is renowned for its small-tapered olives that produce a light, delicate fruity-flavored oil with a cold extraction process. We also grow the violet variety of Albengan artichoke, characteristic of this plain, whose unique flower heads develop a tender, sweet taste.
One of the objectives of the Orto di Liguria is to help local farmers in an area with an agricultural vocation to promote the excellence of Genoese DOP basil in the world. This allows these small producers to continue cultivating their plots of land, avoiding the abandonment and depopulation of the area.
Around the company there are other crops, being the plain of Albenga the most voted in Liguria for agricultural crops. Most of the fields are cultivated with vegetables and olive trees.
We strongly believe that true quality comes by good agricultural practice and prevention rather than by reacting to damage. For this reason, we try in every area to prevent the onset of problems and diseases rather than solving them afterwards. The water we use for cultivation comes entirely from our own wells, the quality of which is periodically checked by both internal and external competent bodies. Water is a precious commodity, and its protection is essential. For this reason, over the years we have developed a drip irrigation system in our basil fields, which allows the plants to have only what they need. Although this technology is now widely used in tree crops or in very profitable crops, it is still rarely used in Italy in open basil fields. Despite this, we have decided to invest in this technology because it allows us to measure exactly the amount of water to give to each plant, according to its needs. This, in addition to saving water, allows us to avoid water accumulation or stagnation which would create a perfect microclimate for the proliferation of bacterial and fungal diseases, which consequently would require phytosanitary treatments.
Even in the fight against harmful insects we try to be as respectful as possible with nature. For this reason, we use two very important techniques to reduce the use of plant protection products: integrated pest management and the use of skylark plants. Integrated pest management consists in releasing beneficial insects that feed on harmful insects, decreasing their population and therefore also the impact on the cultivated plant. The use of lark plants does not serve to decrease the population of the harmful insect but to decrease the damage they can cause. This technique consists in using plants that, compared to cultivated ones, are more palatable for harmful insects. For this reason, these insects prefer these lark plants rather than the cultivated ones we want to protect. Moreover, during the winter, the fields are cultivated exclusively with field beans that are not harvested in order to allow the land a natural rest in preparation for the subsequent planting of basil.
The company has a consolidated team of 5 people who have been working together for 20 years with the same products, becoming experts and connoisseurs in every aspect. In specific periods of the season, other people help us for sowing or for the harvest and processing of basil.
Because only the leaves are used in the production of pesto, the waste that is produced is very limited. These, together with the residues of the plants left in the field, are buried in order to recover part of the organic substance present in the soil.
The basil is processed within 24 hours of harvesting to maximize freshness. It is washed and minced together with oil and salt to produce a semi-finished product which can be stored in the refrigerator. After the October harvest, we dedicate ourselves to the production of pesto. To do this, the other ingredients are added to the semi-finished product, cooled and put into jars, after having checked the stability parameters (pH and free water) which guarantee that the product remains microbiologically stable at room temperature over time. The ready-made jars are brought to the cooperative, which takes care of labeling them and preparing the boxes to send them directly to your home. A distinctive feature of our pesto is that it is not pasteurized at any stage of preparation, allowing us to keep the typical organoleptic characteristics of DOP Genoese basil intact.