Farmers’ markets in Rome

The city promotes direct sale of organic produce at farmers’ markets

There once was a time when the daily market in Campo de’ Fiori, dating back to the 1800s, was bustling with local vendors. Those days are long gone and what was once a farm-tomarket enterprise has been replaced with souvenir stands and imported and untraceable produce from the mercati generali – once in Ostiense and now near the Grande Raccordo Anulare at Lunghezza.

Farm-to-market operations are now few and far between in comparison to past decades. However the trend is rebounding as the city government promotes the “Km zero” programme, which sponsors local farmers’ markets, and demands that produce and products sold at such markets be local and seasonal. The mayor’s office has established a special farmers’ market office within the Promotion of Agriculture unit, which has created a system of agricultural markets for the direct sale of dairy products, fruit and vegetables, and baked goods.

The most popular city-sponsored farmers’ market is near Circus Maximus on Via S. Teodoro. It is managed by the Campagna Amica programme of Coldiretti, which supports agriculture and food produced in Italy. The organisation promotes the direct sale of produce to shorten the supply chain from farmer to consumer. At the S. Teodoro market you can find an array of central Italy’s best, wine, olive oil, honey, cheese and cured meats.

Due to the market’s popularity, another Campagna Amica market sponsored by the city was transferred from Testaccio’s former slaughterhouse to Garbatella, at the location of the old market on Via Passino. It was a highly anticipated comeback for local residents, and was inaugurated last spring.

Another Campagna Amica market can be found every first, second and third Sunday of the month from 10.00- 17.00 in the Auditorium Parco della Musica, transforming Renzo Piano’s modern performing complex into a forum and tasting station for Lazio’s most prized delicacies.

In the courtyard at the former slaughterhouse in Testaccio is the Biomercato alla Città dell’Altra Economia, held on Sundays from 09.00 to sunset. The market offers organic food from the Lazio region and puts customers in direct contact with over 30 artisans and organic farmers.

In addition to the city-sponsored farmers’ markets there are a few other options, thanks to the initiatives of farmers’ associations themselves.

Near the bygone farmers’ market of Campo de’ Fiori is an infrequent substitute organised by the Organic Producer’s Association of Sana Pianta. This market features organic produce and occurs every last Sunday of the month on a small alley called Vicolo della Moretta.

The Terra Terra Association organises five markets a month and has the strictest protocols in Rome for its produce. Each vendor displays a certificate to testify to the ingredients, the technical process used in the production and the fact that everything on the stand is grown and processed by the farmer.

Enrico Gallinaro produces olive oil and wine and belongs to the Terra Terra Association. He stresses the importance of product traceability; a benefit of shopping at smaller farmers’ markets despite minor inconveniences of slightly higher prices and location.

Gallinaro points to the purity of his olive oil by contrasting it with the major counterfeit olive oil case recently uncovered in Italy by the daily newspaper La Repubblica. The scam involved Spanish, Greek, Tunisian and Moroccan oil being mixed with beta-carotene and chlorophyll to mask its colour and taste, then being re-bottled and labelled extra vergine.

He boasts his oil is freshly squeezed within 24 hours of harvest, and contains no additives. He says the other benefits of shopping at farmers’ markets include the clear difference in the flavour of food, and the protection of the labour market and environment.

The Terra Terra Association markets take place in four different locations at Largo Spartaco, Casal Bertone, S. Paolo and Forte Prenestina and are bustling not only with honest and tasty products, but also with live music, art vendors and homemade meals.

The Mercato Trionfale, one of the largest markets in Rome located near the Vatican with over 250 stalls, has just a few stands that adhere to the farm-to-market practice. They are easy to find and can be distinguished by a bright sign featuring Albo Produttori Agricoli in Vendita Diretta.

By law, every neighbourhood in Rome must have a fresh market or a mercato rionale. However in the face of increasing industrial farming, it is important not to be shy when shopping at your local market and ask the provenance of your produce and how it was harvested if you wish to avoid consuming Chinese chestnuts or Romanian porcini mushrooms.

Theresa Potenza

Side notes:

Farmers’ Markets

  • Biomercato alla Città dell ’altra economia, Largo Dino Frisullo
  • Campagna Amica, Via S.Teodoro at Circo Massimo, Saturday and Sunda
  • Campagna Amica, Via Passino, Garbatella, Saturday and Sunday
  • Campagna Amica, Auditorium Parco della Musica, Viale Pietro De Coubertin, First, Second and Third Sunday of the Month
  • Mercato Trionfale, Via Andrea Doria 3,, Monday-Saturday Organic Producers ’
  • Association of Sana Pianta, Vicolo della Moretta,last Sunday of the month
  • Terra Terra Association, Casal Bertone, last Sunday of the month
  • Terra Terra Association, Forte Prenestino, third Sunday of the month
  • Terra Terra Association, Largo Spartaco, second and last Saturday each month
  • Terra Terra Association, S. Paolo, third Saturday of the month

www.mondobio.net/mercatinibiologici-di-roma-e-del-lazio.

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▶ Promotion of Agriculture Unit (U.O. Promozione dell’Agricoltura) is a city hall department that promotes agriculture with activities and services related to farmers’ markets, agriculture companies, urban gardens and environmental education programmes.

▶ Coldiretti (Confederazione Nazionale Coltivatori Diretti), with over half a million members, is Italy’s largest trade association of independent farmers, which now also includes agritourism. It promotes sustainable agriculture as a human and environmental resource.

▶ Campagna Amica is a new initiative of Coldiretti. Its aim is to bring the country to the city by promoting local products and food made in Italy. It protects the quality of products and encourages developments to protect and enhance the environment. It also supervises labelling and advertising.

▶ Terra Terra Association is a programme organised by farmers whose markets are based on the direct relationship between producers and consumers. Their markets consist of about 50 producers and craftsmen from central and southern Italy. Their motto is to respect the land and dignity of those who live and work on it, and promote agriculture without exploitation or chemicals such as pesticides and insecticides. www.terraterra.noblogs.org.