“There’s an old peasant proverb: ‘Leave the land a little better than you found it,’” said Stefano Cantelmo, head engineer for Montevibiano Vecchio eco-friendly farm in Italy.
S tanding 20 feet below ground level, Samford University student Taylor Kingston and her fellow Umbra Institute students listened carefully to Cantelmo as he surveyed the surrounding olive orchards and vineyards. The students visited the farm in the hills above the Tiber Valley on Friday on a field trip for their course, Business of Food in Italy, with Umbra Food Studies Program Director Zach Nowak. The course focuses on the differences in production, distribution, and consumption in the Italian food sector.
After showing the students the wine barrels in the winery’s cantina, Cantelmo described his work.
“I designed the sustainability project for the (farm),” he explained. “We use both high-tech (solar cells, biodiesel) and low-tech (passive cooling, roofs painted white) to reduce our carbon footprint. And in 2010 we were certified zero emissions.”
Montevibiano has since won a Slow Food award for sustainability and an award for quality – a great combination for the farm, according to CEO Lorenzo Fasola Bologna.
“We started the project because zero emissions was the right thing to do for the environment, and it was the right thing for the winery in terms of visibility,”he explained.
Bologna and Cantelmo are interested in the possibility of selling the eco-friendly products in the U.S. market.
After Friday’s field trip, the Umbra students will create two proposals for the Montevibiano Winery and two concepts for marketing the “green” products in the U.S.
“‘Green isn’t the typical color you think of when you think wine – or olive oil, but we think it’s an even more important color than red or white, in the long run,” Nowak joked. “Montevibiano’s products are the perfect marriage of tradition — their castle is over 1000 years old — and innovation. The students’ proposals will be focused on how to make eco-friendly products popular in the U.S., to promote responsible consumption that helps the earth.”
His students said the field trip inspired their work on their projects.
“The trip helped me understand all the factors that go into developing and marketing an eco-friendly product,” Kingston said. “It added to my experience (at Umbra) by allowing me to have firsthand experience of what I am learning about in the classroom.”
After a ride on the solar-powered golf carts to see the fields, Kingston headed back to the Umbra Institute, which is an American study abroad program located in Perugia, the central Italian city known for its chocolate and 35,000 university students.
For more information about the Umbra Institute or its Food Studies Program, contact the coordinator of the program, Professor Zachary Nowak ( firstname.lastname@example.org ). You can also watch a short overview of the Program on YouTube .