Trentino apples, a challenge won by a community

Non and Sole Valleys: did you know that in the last century, thanks to an exceptional apple farming the valleys avoided depopulation due to poverty and emigration? This is the successful story of a territory and its own families.

Watch the videointerview

Apples and salvation

Apples tell us of the last two centuries in Trentino. Now, you can listen to their stories. At the end of the 1800s, apple farming turned out to be e real salvation for the Non Valley community. In those years, many families had to necessarily emigrate for a severe grapevine and mulberry disease (the most important cultivations at that time), increasingly depopulating the valley. However, some families tried to resist risking their business into a new adventure: apple farming. Until 1850, there is no trace of such cultivations in the area, perhaps just some wild variety. The challenge turned out to be a winner. Not only harvest was abundant but also exceeded the community’s needs, so they began to export. Non Valley apples immediately received international acknowledgement and prizes, starting from the World Exposition in Vienna in 1873 where it was awarded for its remarkable quality, foretelling their great future. Non and Sole Valleys discover that their altitude, climate and exposure created a simply perfect ecosystem, the only one in Europe, and particularly indicated for apple farming.

A changing landscape

At the beginning of the 1900s, the old landscape, characterized by mulberry trees, vines, buckwheat is replaced by orchard meadow farming. Today, few of these cultivations are still visible in some parts of our territory where part of the land is turned into orchards, with tall fruit trees very distant one from the other (the so-called patriarchs), the rest is left as meadow and used to provide animal fodder. Towards the end of the 1930s, 40% of the fruit cultivated in Trentino came from the Non Valley, and 70% of this was being exported. But this was just the beginning, after the Second World war cultivations become more and more intensive, and the apple business was definitely launched. Different factors contributed to this situation, but above all the passion and hard work of the farmers, who became more professional and started working together creating the first cooperatives.

Apples bring wealth

The boom arrived between 1960 and ‘70. The success of the Non Valley apples brought jobs, wellness for everybody and the towns started to be repopulated. The landscape changes again: because of the increasing temperatures, cultivations are moved up to 1,000 m of altitude; mechanization requires larger portions of land; smaller plants and closer to each other, drip irrigation, anti-hail netting. The orchards lose their idyllic look of the “patriarch” trees in the middle of meadows. But just like those first great plants saved their valleys from depopulation a long time ago, today, modern apple-orchards tell us the story of a community, and the deep relationship between the land and its farmers that cultivate and protect their fruits, for the wellbeing of all.