Metaponto: the place of the beginning and the end

Since ancient times, agriculture in Basilicata has been closely linked to the various cultural and historical periods that have defined the area.

Within the area of Metaponto, land of the glorious splendors of Magna Graecia,it was in fact the Greeks who, once in the area, intensified agricultural production, starting with grain (wheat and barley especially) which were valuable commodities often traded with other commercial focal points of Magna Graecia. For such reasons, a series of infrastructural measures were taken such as the completion of canals that were dug and cut completely from nothing and maintained in a manner that ensured the constant flow of water.

Around 2000 yearslater, in the 1920s (during the earlydays of the Fascist regime) the national reconstruction program was started and included the lands that the people of Magna Graecia had once caused to flourishduringitsgoldenyears.

Subsequently, during the agrarianreform of the 1950s, therebegan a policy of reclaiming and allocatingtracts of landbeganaround Metaponto, whichbroughtabout some developments in agriculture. With these new farms and theirestates, the reclaimed swamp lands became productive.

Thus, an import horticultural district came into being, which today extends from Montescaglioso to Nova Siri.

On the slopes of the hill of Montescaglioso, the following vegetables are cultivated: tomatoes, cabbage, artichokes, savoycabbage, asparagus and fennels.

The closer one gets to the sea, the more intense production becomes. Starting from rural Bernalda (the hilltop city before the coast), we see the cultivation of local turnips, chickory and salad greens, as well as many excellent varieties of fruit such as peaches, nectarines, apricots, kiwis, plums and certain types of citrus fruits. These can be found all along the Ionian coast of Lucania.It is from this point that our journey begins, from this corner of Basilicata where the harsh and imposing mountains give way to a flat landscape made up of stretching beaches of golden sand alternating with low fertile plains, kissed by the sun and bathed by the five rivers that flow into the Ionian sea.

Over the years an extremely important centre of production has taken form, both with regards to size and quality, which has allowed the fruit and vegetable sectors to introduce themselves to much greater markets, from large distributors to the niche markets and, ultimately, on a global scale. An example of this is the strawberry of Basilicata from the Metaponto area, a variety that is called Sabrosa. It has become so treasured, even outside the country, that it has made the region number one in Italy for production and quality.

The OP, which is the Organization of Producers in the fruit and vegetable sector, has played a significant and fundamental role in this area, forming farms and small producers into collectives thereby guaranteeing a stronger supply chain and a greater bargaining power.