In Italy, a fattoria didattica, or educational farm, is a farm which goes beyond food production to include educational and training activities for schools, families and groups interested in learning more about the rural world.
The educational farm is an integral part of the Borgo Basino project, which we interpret as a “folk school”: a school of practical knowledge, for everyone, not just for children. A school in which adults can also rediscover and learn, through direct embodied experiences, the ecological, cultural, social and economic aspects of the local bioregion.
Borgo Basino offers educational tours on the flora and fauna of the farm, wild plant foraging, cycles of natural resources and ancient local traditions. It also offers these courses in English and in Italian Sign Language (LIS). These educational workshops emphasize lived learned to build awareness about the regenerative potential of our surroundings.
The most requested activities include meeting our farm animals, learning about organic gardening and regenerative farming practice through the seasons with fruit and vegetable picking, discovering the world of bees and honey, recognizing and collecting wild herbs, flowers and small fruits, and scavenger hunting for natural treasures found on the farm. The farm also offers a beautiful path that runs along its perimeter, called the “path of the nests.” Walking in the woods, you can observe different types of houses in which native bird species can nest, accompanied by an explanation of their eating habits and behaviors. And if you want to discover the link between circular ecological systems and sustainability, you are invited to observe the aquaponics system: a closed loop and regenerative cultivation system that raises fish in large pool integrated with a hydroponic vegetable growing system. Plants take up carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus left by fish waste, filtering the water and fixing oxygen that is reused by the fish.
By observing nature and learning its cycles and movements, you can also learn a lot about yourself. With the orienteering path visitors are show how to orient themselves, not with the mobile phone as many do today, but using natural reference points such as landmarks and learning to move with simple tools, such as a compass. Learning to move with others and in your environment, you can cooperatively learn to listen to yourself and your surroundings to reawaken and “rewild” yourself.
Another invitation to learn more about the link between humans and this bioregion comes through the archaeology laboratory. The territory remembers our past and can resurface objects that speak to us of forgotten customs and traditions. With this laboratory, accompanied by expert archaeologists, you learn to dig in and get to know the soil, so vital to our food system, and discover small tools and utensils used in the agricultural methods of the past.
Experiencing the farm school at Borgo Basino means rediscovering hands-on knowledge as a bridge between past and future. Immersing ourselves in the present, rediscovering the beauty of ancient “craft,” we become more fully aware of our interconnection and wholeness.