Marco Tabarrini runs a small family business, Fattoria La Redola Verde, consisting of the breeding of Cinta Senese pigs, as well as the Lacaune sheep – notably, the predominant breed used in the production of Roquefort cheese in France – and a small production of DOP Umbria olives. The Cintas are bred wild and live outdoors, all year round, feed on forest products with a little integration of cereals harvested in the fields adjacent to the farm.

Marco Tabarrini, Umbrian style natural salumi making.

Marco Tabarrini, Umbrian style natural salumi making.

Redola Verde Pecorino cheese of different ageing and seasoning.

Redola Verde Pecorino cheese of different ageing and seasoning.

With the help of his father in law, Marco transforms them into cured meats like salami, lonzino, guanciale, and hams. From the sheep’s milk they produce cheeses of different kinds, shape, and aging from the classical Umbrian pecorino, one seasoned in barrels with hay, as well as creamy cheeses with washed rind and finally some fresh soft cheeses and ricotta. Olives and other crops are used for family consumption while also integrating the diets of the animals on the farm.

This is an extract from a short interview I had with Marco Tabarrini in the last days.

Livio: Please tell us about your farm’s visitors and client base?

Marco: Up until the pandemic, our clientele was primarily made of local restaurants buying half of my production. I was serving the master baker Ivan Pizzoni at both his forno and Osteria Bacerotti in the center of Foligno, Borgo Brufa in Torgiano, and L’Alchimista in my town, Montefalco. The rest was sold equally between local customers, who came and bought at the farm, and some selected groceries, those family-run locales that one can still find in a region like Umbria. With the lockdown a substantial change took place – with many private individuals calling me to buy our products – and I began a new adventure of home deliveries.

L: When did you see things changing after the pandemic of Covid-19?

M: The relationship with the clientele, especially restaurants, has drastically changed since the beginning of March. The lockdown forced us to focus on private clients who have, in the past 2 months, learned about our products and enjoyed buying directly.

L: What has changed in your day-to-day activity?

M: Substantially there were no changes in my daily work with the animals and in the fields. As farmers, we have not been able to stop. We have sown wheat for tomorrow’s bread, we have pruned the olive trees for tomorrow’s oil, our sheep have given birth again and their milk is cheese again.

L: How long can you stay in business in this situation?

M: The current conditions are very uncertain and I struggle, daily, in understanding the trend in short term sales. Whit restaurants before I was used to planning production ahead of time, based on the history of orders. These days every week is different and I cannot forecast sales. I cannot predict how long we will be able to move on in these conditions but we are humble people, we will take what will come and we will move forward as we have always done. With a farmer’s perspective, there will always be a tomorrow. Should we be forced to adapt to new needs we will do it. We have always done it. Always, we will.

The sheep’s milk id used for the classical Umbrian pecorino and ricotta.

The sheep’s milk id used for the classical Umbrian pecorino and ricotta.

The Cintas are bred wild in the fields adjacent to the farm.

The Cintas are bred wild in the fields adjacent to the farm.

L: What’s your wish for the years to come?

M: My hope for the years to come is for a better-organized health system capable of prompt reactions and mindful of this experience.

L: What have you learned from this experience?

M: This virus made me realize how important it is to help each other. I started home deliveries without increasing prices or making to pay for the trip. There is a better awareness of producers like me who do good and genuine things and are willing to make kilometers for their customers.

L: Are you expecting help from the state?

M: I do not expect much financial aid, although that would be needed. It would be the right moment to get read of some layers of bureaucracy that here in Italy discourages those who are willing and capable of doing.

Marco showing the squared sheep aged cheese about to depart for the daily delivery to private customers.

Marco showing the squared sheep aged cheese about to depart for the daily delivery to private customers.

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