Who we are
RIPA exists to protect and preserve the beautifully rich and fertile agricultural area known as TUSCIA around the lake of Bolsena in central Italy. This ancient lake is an important water source for many different agricultural livelihoods. Local farmers are using traditional methods to produce sustainable crops, respecting the seasons and avoiding agrichemical and industrial methods. The quality of the local produce is deliciously nutritious and affordable, enabling these farmers to support themselves for their hard work. Because of the Mediterranean climate, the produce is wide ranging: vegetables such as courgette, aubergine, tomato, potato, salad, carrots, beetroot, cabbage, rocket and hemp. There is also biodynamic wine, organic olive oil, honey, sheep, cow, buffalo and goat’s cheese, yogurt, different breads and organic flour, pulses such as lentils and kidney beans, preserves like sundried tomatoes, jams, chutneys, dried fruits and home made hazelnut spread from wild hazelnut trees. There are also herbs and spices such as chilli, coriander, saffron, basil, thyme, canapa, as well as unusual alcoholic beverages made from cherry, fennel and juniper.
A large part of the community is made up of young farmers, who have moved from the cities fin search of a healthier and more meaningful life. Farming equipment and resources are often shared, along with the exchange of knowledge, often reviving old farming techniques which were discarded in favour of agrochemical food production. A community has been gathered together called CRD (Comunità Rurale Diffusa), that looks out for all its participants, cultivating but also giving back to the land, preserving it for future generations, guarding it from harm and over exploitation. Unfortunately, not all share this vision. Outsider investors have recently invaded the area, buying up large swathes of land for the monocultivation of hazelnuts with intent to exploit it for maximum profit, without giving anything back to the earth or the community. This kind of behaviour has to be legally outlawed, and RIPA has been set up to campaign against this unjust and destructive activity. We are strongly opposed to agrichemical monoculture, which has already impoverished millions of hectares of land throughout Italy. If this is allowed to continue, the fertility of the land will be lost, and we will not be able to feed ourselves.
Supporting this campaign and underpinning the agricultural community are interconnected organisations that have been working extremely hard for the preservation of biodiversity around Lake Bolsena. Associazione Lago di Bolsena, which was founded by Piero Bruni 40 years ago, has campaigned extensively on the grave issue of sewage spills, as well as the dangers of geothermic energy, and expansion of monoculture, excessive irrigation and pesticides. BLEU (Bolsena Lago d'Europa) provides news, interviews and information on ecological issues concerning the lake, in particular sensitising the European residents to the cause. La Porticella is working with the community around Bolsena, enhancing and protecting local cultural and environmental resources through the arts and creativity. Comitato Quattro Strade has been set up to safeguard the characteristics, landscapes and animals of an area near Sugano and Canonica which has recently been planted with 100 hectares of hazelnut monoculture. Finally, CISA (Comitato Interregionale Salvaguardia Alfina) has been campaigning heroically against FRACKING around Torre d'Alfina, which could seriously destabilise the geological security of the region given that the whole area is seismic.