Saving truffles and sustainable travel
Carlo Merenda is a 33 year-old expert trifulau from Alba who inherited three dogs with an excellent nose and the wisdom of a historic truffle hunter like Giuseppe Giamesio, aka Notu. Edmondo Bonelli is a 34 year-old naturalist who studies truffles, rocks and fossils. Together they have created Save The Truffle in the homeland of white truffles, Alba. The reasoning behind the project is simple, despite the product’s reputation in Italy it would seemingly be a useless motive. Lately, explains Merenda, “farmland has expanded, and with it the value of crops, but the truffle hunting areas have greatly diminished, by 30%”.
So the goal of the project is safeguarding the area’s truffle zones through a cultural approach rather than merely on a commercial standpoint. Sustainable tourism is on the other hand the instrument that best serves the project: with awareness of an area’s resources travelers can help protect the area’s truffle environment. “We aim to introduce the concept in schools as well as with tourists in the woods. Our job is cultural. Sixty percent of truffle hunters are over age 60, we have the need and the duty to preserve this recorded history”.
The importance of the woods
This work is not done merely with students and tourists. It’s also the land owner’s duty to understand the importance of truffle-hospitable wooded areas. In an area like Alba where wineries and farms have progressively expanded the surface cropland, there has been a significant reduction of forests. “We explain woodland owners the advantages of a sustainable approach. Wine estate owners can pair a vineyard visit to a walk in the woods”. He continues, “When a forest is well managed it brings advantages to everyone, even the adjacent vineyard, helping to eliminate flavescence dorée bacterial disease”.
Fundraising and the creation of a tartufaia
At the moment Save the Truffle is engaged in creating a tartufaia, a truffle bed where research and teaching can be carried out, something which is still missing in the city of Alba. After a series of soil studies a public area was singled out in the Parco di San Cassiano which is very well suited for truffle habitat. The remaining areas of the public park have been sown with mycorrhizal seedlings to help the development of truffles in the area. A fundraiser has been created to support Save the Truffle. Funds raised will be invested in repurposing four environmental areas of the region, including the San Cassiano one. Donations can be made until December.
by Francesca Fiore
translated by Eleonora Baldwin