From the plains of Sibari: the best clementines in the world
The season for clementines is just starting in Calabria. BioTropic's specialists Mauro Finotti and Irene Paravizzini have just returned from a visit to our suppliers in Calabria. They inspected the organically-grown clementines in the orchards there and spoke with the producers about the forthcoming season.
Calabrian clementines are regarded as the best in the world, which is why their geographic origin is protected. It is the climate of the region at the "toe" of the boot of Italy, the plains of Sibari, which suits clementines so well: one of the sunniest regions in the country, yet still mild because the coast is nearby. In addition, the trees are protected from wind and hail by the proximity of the La Sila and Pollino mountain ranges. Calabrian clementines are usually seedless; they are easy to peel, juicy, aromatic, sweet and very tasty into the bargain. Are the Italians exaggerating? Try some yourself.
Clementines are a relatively recent cultivar, possibly derived from a cross between mandarins and oranges. They have been increasingly cultivated in the Calabrian region since the 1950s. Some 200,000 tons in total are now harvested each season.
BioTropic has worked together with four cooperatives from the region since the early 1990s: Sole e Natura, Fruttone, and Frutta Bio from Corigliano Calabro and Bionatura from Francavilla Marittima. They are small to medium-sized, family-run businesses, which are handed down through the years from father to son and are now convinced practitioners of organic farming in the second generation.
They share the view that organic cultivation offers unfalsified, healthy sustenance, to protect life in all its forms. The main common denominator amongst all our producers in Sibari is their commitment to maintaining the high quality of the fruits. That is one of the reasons why it is forbidden to grow mandarins in the vicinity of clementine plantations. This is intended to prevent cross-pollination with mandarins, which generally have seeds, because the clementines should remain seedless. Only very occasionally are clementines found with seeds, although then it is likely to be a whole crate because they all originate from the same tree.
Our producers Renato Falco from "Sole e Natura" and Massimo Sammarro from "Frutta Bio" have added various early and late ripening varieties to their ranges, thereby extending the clementine season into February. That helps to satisfy consumer demand and secures the jobs of the workers.
Text: Visnja Malesic, Ivana Giannico
Images: BioTropic GmbH, Bionatura, Frutta Bio, Fruttone und Sole e Natura