Interview: Manuel Mancino

Interview: Manuel Mancino, Paceco

Age: 30

He manages an ecological farming, that differs from biological farming because it has a more industrial approach, in other words it concerns the productive process from the mountain to the valley.  

He manages a land in the Paceco area.


Description of the environment where the production activity is taking place:

The land is located in Paceco, a small town in the province of Trapani. The area of the field is about 800 sm. There are citrus and orange trees.

In the land there is a progressive vegetable garden, meaning that  it wasn’t planted all at once but rather progressively over time.

There was an idea to create a “social farming”, that is a multidisciplinary project that involves dance, theatre and painting together with farming. The project is now in a stand-by state.


Description of the technique/method/practice implemented.

The employed technique is a compromise between what the interviewee wants to do and the different farming techniques used by others. It needs a lot of time to launch a sustainable process. Flowers are very useful elements of the ecosystem, even if in conventional farming his function is ignored.

In some harvest phases it is uncomfortable to maintain the field green under the orchards because uncovered lands don’t exist in nature (only in the desert). Such self-sustaining uncovered land is justified by the competition of the herbs and the cultivated plants for water. Put already dried materials ( mulching technique ) impedes the growth of some types of herbs and when it rots it produces organic fertilizer that doesn’t impede the development of the bacterial flora of the ground.

The ground is carefully hoed to control and obstruct the herbs, and since it has been abandoned for 10 years, now it is full of useful earthworms. It is therefore necessary to do a meticulous work to avoid to damage them.

In this ecological farm permanent and sustainable permaculture is also used. It is a holistic discipline that includes some farming aspects, but not only, it represents a broader approach to the ecosystem. The farmer also deals with a synergic vegetable garden, determining a balance between a stable/self-sufficient ecosystem and the human productive process; the field is made as complex and firm as possible.

All the essential elements for the stability of the farming productive process already exist in nature, as antagonist insects, biodiversity or the fertility of the ground. Thus, this synergic vegetable garden is an attempt to bring the farming ecosystem back to the natural ecosystem, with a lot of vegetables species, a mulching activity carried out with biodegradable constituents that make the ground self-fertile. So the presence of vegetables species and antagonist insects in the same field creates relationships that make the farming stable, while using techniques (like the natural mulching) that avoid chemical fertilizers.


List and description of the tools used in the production activity.

Wood platforms that would have been burnt in vain as defectives (fast-disposable principle).

Before seeding it is necessary to use the powered cultivator, but always in a superficial and limited way, since every mechanical manipulation of the ground cause damages to its inhabitants, for example the earthworms, that can live for 4 or 6 years, moving the ground and creating some tunnels that make the ground breath; moreover, earthworms ingurgitate the ground that contains the organic substance already decomposed and produce a mineral organic substance through their bacterial flora which is ejected from the intestine and that can be assimilated by plants).      


List of natural products connected to the production activity.

During the summer he cultivates yellow melons (Helios variety, a hybrid). Also Piemontese beans are cultivated.

In the graduated vegetable garden the following species are seed : cauliflower, fennel, turnip tops, head cabbage, spinach and chard; which indeed are considered traditional products. It is also possible to find cherry trees and medlar plants.   


Is this activity connected to some traditional local activity?

In the past the farmer used to sell retail products (just picked).

Before doing farming, he founded a LEC ( Local Exchange Community ) in order to facilitate the allocation of local biological products in the provincial area. But, in spite of the solidarity between the seller and the buyer, there was no particular liking among the sellers.


How did you learn this method/technique/practice?

It doesn’t have a familiar tradition, the news and the information are found through the Internet, and sustained by the farmer’s passion for nature. In fact. he gave up his civil engineering studies to dedicate himself to this activity.


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