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Learn from nature in the lowlands of the Po Valley

The Po Valley in Lombardy is one of the four tourist areas into which the region is divided.

 

Here, the nature of northern Italy displays all its charms, in every season of the year: the autumn mists give way to the winter snow, which protects the ground until the spring sun rises, and everything bursts into life in the scorching summer heat. In these lands rich in nature and culture - the Lomellina, the Pavese and its Oltrepò, the Lodigiano, the Cremonese and the Mantovano - numerous farms have combined their crop and livestock farming with projects aimed at children and adults who want to explore the secrets of the land: this is how the Lombardy educational farms began.

 

Educational farms: what they are and what they teach
There are many farms which, whilst continuing with their main agricultural activities, have taken on the task of raising public awareness, especially among children and young people, of nature and its products, the plant and animal food chains and the work of the farmer. A task which, today more than ever, can convey key values such as respect for the environment, the protection of resources and conscious consumption, love for animals. So a truly educational initiative, allowing for the specific involvement of groups of pupils and students, but also those who love nature, artisanship and cooking, and who want to enjoy a different kind of weekend or holiday.

 

A Region of Lombardy project
In Lombardy, over 200 farms have signed up and agreed to the requirements of the Quality Charter, approved by the Regional Council in 2017, and have now become one of the educational farms accredited by the Region of Lombardy: here is the list, last updated in June 2020, and the Guide to Educational Farms in Lombardy. You can also find a lot more information on the websites: Agriturismi della Lombardia and Buona Lombardia.

 

Learning about nature on the Lombardy Plains
The Lombardy Plains are the ideal place for exploring the rural environment, food sources and the techniques used to process the many products typical of the countryside, experiencing what life on the farm is really about. Starting in the west, in the provinces of Pavia, Lodi, Cremona, and extending as far as Mantua, the lowlands, stretching along the course of the Po to the border with Emilia Romagna, alternate with the gentle hills of the Oltrepò Pavese on the right bank of the great river, the endless plains of the Lodigiano and the valleys with rivers running through them. In addition to the Po, these water-rich lands are also crossed by the Agogna, the Ticino, the Olona, the Lambro, the Adda, the Oglio, the Mincio, the Secchia and the Tione. This is the most fertile farmland in Lombardy. 

 

From the rice fields of the Lomellina to the vineyards of the Oltrepò
In Lomellina, the land of rice, the activities offered by the educational farms - many in the Ticino Natural Park itself - often relate to exploring the cultivation of rice and cereals: crop cycles, varieties, historical and botanical aspects, flour production and the making of bread and confectionery, cooking with the milk and butter produced from the animals reared on the farms and then enjoying the cheeses and fruit grown there. Not far away, in the Oltrepò Pavese, at the many wineries with an educational arm, you can help harvest and press the grapes, as you learn about the ancient traditions and the secrets of the precious nectar.

 

At school in the barns and yards of the Lodigiano
The province of Lodi, situated between the Po, the Lambro and the Adda, is a thriving industrial area and also has numerous farms, mainly specialising in livestock. Many are linked to local agricultural institutes. They rear farm animals, cattle and pigs, and produce milk, cheese, meat... So what can you learn here? How modern barns work, all about the breeds and how the animals are fed, how they are looked after, and the techniques used to produce milk and fresh and cured cheeses. 

Among the bees and the bamboo, in the Cremonese
In the Cremonese, the focus on nature, biodiversity and biodynamic farming is very strong. In the Oglio Sud Park and the Adda Park, some educational farms keep bees and produce honey and wax. Here you can learn all about bees and how they live in their hives, as well as discovering the magic of silkworms. An area in which tall trees, poplars, ash trees and even bamboo grow in abundance. The Adda Valley has the largest collection of bamboo in Italy: over 140, between species and varieties!

 

Farms in the Mantovano: an historical tradition
In the province of Mantua, the network of educational farms dates back more than 20 years and was one of Italy's first experiences of this kind. It is amazing to think that the guide to local educational and cultural activities for schools and families has now reached its 24th edition (2019-2020). With its many different kinds of farms, including dairy and agritourism farms, you are spoiled for choice, but the objective remains the same: to rediscover the manual skills, the relationship with the environment and life in the countryside. What activities are available? Visits to rural markets and museums, cheesemaking, plant cultivation, studying medicinal herbs, looking after the animals, home cooking and food education to suit your tastes... immediately put to the test, around the table, to finish off your farm visit in the way it deserves!
 

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PH COPERTINA: VIVIBAMBU.COM

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