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We came from one of the many human traps, one of the too many city-madness around: traffic jams, bypass, condominiums, reassuring office jobs at fixed hours ill-conceived for slaves: a silent crowd already dead inside before they never start to live.

Love and courage to the right doses, that’s the ingredients that have matured the getaway from that city-trap, rising this decision as a natural bread - the bread of life – mixed with toil, sacrifice and feeling of freedom.

Was the spring of 2004 between Pisa and Florence, landed in the hills from the commune of San Miniato intrude in the Val d’Elsa and Siena, once there, we didn’t grow any other doubts that this was our land and we stop so to cultivate Her to love Her enclosed in such a beautiful landscape.

Though, we get started with medicinal plants: rhubarb, mint, thyme and saffron of course which boasts noble and ancient glories as well attested by the DOP of the border territories.

In the “Groves of Acacias” we then brought beehives to produce honey and implemented a small orchard of quince, green apples, pears.

It’s not more than 3 hectares (7 acres and half) and they are already more than enough not practicing us intensive techniques or invasive methods but everything it is growing almost exclusively manual in all stages.

So let’s spend few words about this: collection by hand. Come rain or come shine, for four or five weeks (between mid-October and late November), we’re up and stands by the bed which is still dark and we need picking flowers; Saffron is photosensitive like a vampire and very often it is a reckless race against time attempting to tap, to dry the stigmas of this vegetable-Count Dracula before the sun rise up. Who wants to know, knows that quality and substance costing much dedication, anxieties and physical exertion to no end. In two weeks though, the collection are indeed organized in two teams: the collectors and the ”spillways”, changing part and shift every hour because the land is low and back shouting: revenge!

Very easy would be the use of chemicals, but not within our thought patterns, chemicals are completely excluded from our intellectual and moral vision of the world: never any pesticides will be sprayed at our plants, that means it will struggle more us of course, but who cares? It is only by doing so that in addition to protecting ourselves and who takes the fruits of our production, we also guarantee the authenticity of the entire production-chain, being ourselves kind of custodians of the area in which we act and we breathe every single day of the year.

Small numbers, many sacrifices, few products but great satisfaction, that’s our marketing refrain!

Unfortunately or rather fortunately, Earth is the Master who teach you what to do or not, and you could do very little if you do not agree, so, constant attacks of insects, pests, ravenous moles, they silently ”suggested” us to transplant the Saffron plot out soil to protect them from any other sort of natural sores. The priceless bulbs are transplanted in little bowls resting on the ground, every summer get away the corms to control their health, we clean them of old tunics by separating the cloves from the bulb then put fresh mother dwells in new land by the end of August.

Imagination and desire to experiment together linked with our thirst of knowledge and the willpower to spread more awareness on food, clarifying the culinary and medicinal properties give-off by our daughters-plants, make us proud of immediate and public usefulness, very proud to give back to as much people as possible one essential message: authentic and genuine food is much much better than industrially processed food adulterated by the chemical farms of mass retailers.

A never ending curiosity, spirit of research, desire to dare, we created our own preserves, jams, jellies, Saffron pâté and honey, seasonal fruit, butter, salt, cheeses to delight the palate more accustomed to encourage the started, to brighten up the perplexing.

Much of the raw material is produced on the farm, but for  some of the ingredients (pulp and rabbit liver, butter, parmesan, buffalo milk, salt, sugar) for obvious necessity, we’re forced to make commissions from outside sources. If and when possible we prefer to talk directly to the manufacturer so it is essential for us personal relationships with business partners who will respect our same quality standards; Fair-trade market is an excellent alternative when we don’t have the chance of direct relationship with producers just said. The search for what we consider to be ”the best” is maniac and constant, the same respect that we devote to raw materials cultivated by us we know there will also be part of our final customer vision-of-life conceding he finished equal dedication to our products in the purchase and use of it.

About the product packaging, everything is handmade by favoring sustainable materials (paper and glass), limiting the stickers only for seal and eliminating permanently plastic materials.

The company is a former complex, constrained under the Beaux Arts regulation. In compliance with current health procedures we rely so carefully chosen external, certificated laboratories  of great value for the processing of our products.

Most recipes sprout from the imagination of Gabriela, a few, very few-actually, pop up from my thought, the rest finally come-out from a ten-year cooperation by now established with other talented chefs, restaurateurs and caterers that we consider our close friends.

In short, by the complex yet simple ”ground-processing”, we know to have grown, making construction errors, correction strategies to continue to evolve, reconsidering to improve together with our friends without whom this would not have been possible path, a path of sensory experiences increasingly intriguing, nuanced that rare-gold-vegetable which is the Saffron we are pleased to be humble servants and overseers.

Crocus and Smilace are in Greek mythology the two children symbolising the myth saffron metamorphic: a young mortal and a nymph transformed into small flowers with envy of the gods.

Two of us though, Toni and Gabriela, we’re mortals instead, but modestly alive, kicking and smiling to sweep the envy of men and women already dead inside before they’re going to be off.

 

Writer: Gaetano Saccoccio – Natura delle cose

Lo zafferano di Croco e Smilace