Meet Our Suppliers - The Laudani Farm

This is Carmelo (and his furry friend, Ninja), founder of Laudani Sicilia Inside.We use their beautiful citrus, direct from the foothills of Etna, to make our seasonal marmalade range.     
We all know the saying when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But what happens when life gives you lots of lemons... and oranges... and limes... AND grapefruits? This is what Carmelo is faced with, and we think he's making something pretty great. Situated between the Simeto river and the foothills of Mount Etna (I'm not at all bitter) is the Laudani company.  Based on a family-run farm, they produce some of the finest citrus fruits in the world. They also farm with the benefits of our planet in mind. Read on to find out how.
 
The Beautiful Laudani Farm

       

Agriculture is an ever-changing industry. Carmelo's family has been active on the foothills of Etna for over 90 years - those years have seen some changes! The demands are changing, consumers' tastes are changing, technologies are changing - hey, people are changing too. 

While some modern technology may be efficient in terms of production, it can simultaneously be harmful to our planet. But there are wondrous resources available that encourage sustainable and natural agriculture. "Our policy is to keep the work simple and natural," Carmelo says, "we avoid the usage of chemicals and we use beneficial insects to keep the farms clean from pests and eventual diseases". Carmelo also keeps a keen eye on the latest developments in solar panel and irrigation technology, and frequently updates his facilities to ensure his farm operates as sustainably as possible.

The Laudani Story

As mentioned, Carmelo farms on the very same land his ancestors tended to more than 90 years ago. Although Carmelo benefits from the progressive technologies of the 21st Century, he dutifully works with the same ethos and sensibility that has been handed down to him by his father and his grandfather.

The story of Laudani stretches back four generations. Carmelo's great grandfather, Antonino, laboured the fields of the wealthy landlords of Sicily. It wasn't until his grandfather (whom Carmelo is named after) started to earn a living, that the passion for fruit farming accelerated. With more accessible and affordable land to rent, Nonno Carmelo started harvesting watermelon, saving up until he could buy his own land. Once he did, he planted oranges and the rest, as they say, is history.

History is a resource to learn from, to be inspired by, and Carmelo insists that his methods must stay true to the "peculiar ways of farming'" that he has inherited: to stay close to nature and to gracefully collect its rewards.

What makes Etna such fertile soil for beautiful citrus?

There's a saying in Sicily which (roughly) translates as lemons are not real lemons unless they're Sicilian. We asked Carmelo why fruit from the area tastes so damn good. "Etna gives us lots and lots of help," he appreciatively explains, "the peculiarity of the soil makes a real difference between our citrus fruits and other varieties from different parts of the world". 

Further, have you ever wondered where blood oranges get their distinctive blush from? Well, Carmelo tells us how Sicily's extraordinary geography of having both the sea and mountains in such close proximity means that the days are very warm and the nights are very cold. "This gap," Carmelo explains, "makes the oranges blush". Pretty cool. Pretty tasty!

So, what does happen when life gives you LOTS of lemons?

Believe it or not, the Laudani company does not use any storage. Everything that gets shipped, gets handpicked directly from the trees. Of course, as Newton observed, fruit has a tendency to fall from trees. Surely this means there's waste? Well, Carmelo tells us that this waste is actually pretty handy. Once it drops, it can help with fertilisation and boost next year's production. 

Any excess waste is hand-collected by Carmelo and his team and is delivered to local companies. When these people are given lemons, they make limoncello, or use it in cosmetics. We use these wonderful lemons to make marmalade; we do the same with their blood oranges.

Fancy giving our Sicilian citrus marmalades a try? View our marmalade collection by clicking here

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 Happy Jamming!

Sky, Kai and the England Preserves team