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Agricultural Professionals Visit Italy with North Shropshire College and the Life Long Learning Project

Oswestry, United Kingdom, June 18, 2015 --( Eighteen agricultural professionals from across the UK have recently visited the Tuscan Region of Italy. The participants visited farming and food production sites across Tuscany and met a diverse array of agricultural entrepreneurs, farmers, fishermen and smallholders in Tuscan agriculture. The visit was arranged by the Enterprise and Development Department of North Shropshire College and funded by the Life Long Learning Project, Leonardo Di Vinci and hosted by Anne-Marie O’Brien from The Italian Job Consultants and Services.

Many of the producers the group visited were organic and part of the ‘Slow Food’ association. ‘Slow Food’ emphasises quality over quantity and usually shuns supplying Supermarkets in favour of smaller regional vendors. Many of the producers in Tuscany also invest in tourism, with diversification into agri-tourism becoming increasingly popular. A culture of mutual benefit prevails, with producers helping each other market and sell their produce. Many of the producers and facilities the group visited were linked to each other through the ‘Slow Food’ association bond.

A wide variety of small producers were visited by the group such as Orbetello Fisheries, the Nannoni Grappa Distillery, Vallechiara Brewery, the Maremma Regional Park, where the group met the ‘Butteri’ or Italian Cowboys, and Grosetto’s State Institute of Higher Education (Further Education College) and many, many more. Other parts of the Tuscan agricultural infrastructure were visited, such as Sementi Maremma, a seed processing plant that sells to the Italian Regions of Tuscany and Lazio as well as overseas to Turkey, Peru and Denmark; and Follonica Horse Farm, which is operated by the State Forestry Corps and breeds ‘Maremmano’ horses for the Italian military and police.

One of the larger food producers visited by the group was ‘Ovo Maremma’, an egg farm and the largest food producer in Tuscany. The company is owned by Luca Guicciardini Corsi Salviati, who also produces milk under the brand name of ‘Latte Maremma’. Both brands are popular in Tuscany. The group saw for itself the amount of advertising and marketing across the region. Luca did not see any benefits with selling his products to supermarkets preferring to supply smaller vendors and maintain control of his brand.

One of the participants, Chris Impey, a smallholder from South Wales, commented "What struck me was how regionally organised they were. Marketing is the key and we need to market our own regional food better." Another participant, Chris Litchfield, a cattle farmer from Staffordshire, commented on the experience, saying "Beautiful region. Interesting and sometimes challenging visits which have given me some great ideas for the future. I would recommend the experience to everyone."

Liz Wilcox from NSC’s Enterprise and Development Department commented on the study tour of Tuscany, saying "The visit was very successful. All of the participants learned something new by taking part and it was also valuable for networking. NSC hopes to work with The Italian Job again on future projects."

For more information about overseas study tours with NSC’s Enterprise and Development Department, please call Liz Wilcox on 01939 262184 or email
Contact Information
North Shropshire College
Lucy Evans
01691 688039

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