Azienda Agricola San Mauro is the family business and takes its name from the nearby San Mauro Castle. It is located in Corigliano Rossano, in the Piana di Sibari in Calabria, and produces citrus fruits (clementines, blond oranges, blood oranges, lemons, pink grapefruit, limes and finger limes) and summer fruits (peaches, nectarines, apricots and flat peaches). The Piana di Sibari is particularly renowned for the production of clementines, which, thanks to the temperature range provided by the sea breeze and the surrounding mountains, have an excellent taste. The area in which we are located is purely agricultural, but still maintains an active and important economy, given the quantity and quality of the products that can be obtained.
The company is now in its third generation. Originally, olives were cultivated for oil production, and we had an oil mill. In the 1960s, our grandfather wanted to introduce citrus fruits. Our father later improved the technology of the oil mill and divided the company into two: one part agricultural production and another part product processing and packaging. Finally, us children, after various experiences outside the family business, returned to see if we can introduce further innovations. We came up with the idea of looking for alternatives to chemical products and, hence, the interest in organic farming. In 1989, we decided to convert the farm to organic agriculture. At that time, organic was already widespread in Europe but not yet in Italy. In Calabria, it was even less prevalent, and, in fact, we were the first certified organic company in the entire region. More than 10 years ago, we decided to go a step further, and also got Demeter certified.
To irrigate our plants, we use our own wells that we have in almost every plot. We use drip irrigation or subsurface irrigation, to decrease water consumption. These methods allow us to provide water only in the areas close to the plants. We only irrigate in the warmer months, from mid-April to September. On average, for summer fruits, we use 5,000 litres of water per year, while for citrus fruits, we use about 3,000 litres.
We mow the grass and work it into the soil, and we also grow a lot of green manure to increase the amount of nitrogen present. For fertilisation, we use compost that we produce ourselves. To control harmful insects, we release beneficial insects and plan to start breeding them ourselves. Currently, all office and warehouse roofs are covered with photovoltaic panels, which allow us to meet our energy consumption, but we plan to increase production.
Between seasonal and permanent employees, about 80 employees work in the company, all with a regular contract. These people have been working with us for almost 15 years, with small rotations every year of new people replacing some employees who are retiring or moving away. We strongly support women's employment by organising training courses for our employees on practices traditionally performed by men, such as pruning. This makes it possible for women to work more continuously and in different parts of the company, creating more job opportunities.
We try to minimise the waste we produce. That is why we sell fruit with flaws and which cannot be sold as fresh fruit to juice or jam companies. With processing waste, pruning and olive pressing remains, we produce our own compost. With the mill water, we produce compost tea, a product used for the foliar defence of our plants.