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Location: Contrada Squarcia, CAP 96015 Francofonte, in the province of Syracuse 

Products: Oranges, lemons, clementines, exotic fruits
Marketing channels: on-farm direct selling, groceries, producers' cooperative. 

"Since I was a child, I had a dream of having a plot of farmland with a spring water source, and I also dreamt of coming back to Francofonte, my hometown in the southeast corner of Sicily" explains Salvatore Gentile, a farmer with an entrepreneurial spirit who is managing his bountiful orchard, a little gem nestled into a rolling rural landscape in between Catania and Syracuse. One might say, however, that he took the long way home to settle into the business of managing his own farmland. Travelling throughout Germany as well as Northern and Central Italy for many years, Mr Gentile tended the livestock, he worked in construction, and he was part of the kitchen staff in a restaurant before moving back to Sicily in 2004 and starting building something for himself.

I know very well Mr Gentile: he is my family farm neighbour in Francofonte, besides being an open-minded middle-aged man with a passion to ride up and down the farm on an old cycle. By working hard and with the help of his partner Antonino Torracco, he was able to turn the property from the monoculture of citrus plantation to a diversified orchard of fruit trees. Today Mr Gentile's farm is a meticulously managed farm land, containing acres planted with mediterranean fruits, as oranges, lemons, clementines and pomegranates. Also, he is adapting to climate change by growing exotic fruits, such as avocadoes, while he is always experimenting with new tropical fruits to find new markets.

Practicing integrated pest management growing techniques, he aims to grow healthy fruits while having the lowest impact on the environment. As the domestic demand doesn't meet the farm production, Mr Gentile ships to many cities in the Northern and Central Italy, mainly to small groceries.


Photo Credits: Imma Di Marco, Antonino Torracco

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