I took on the commitment of running Cascina Oschiena in 2008. My name is Alice Cerutti, I am 38 years old and I am a farmer with a degree in Business Studies from the University of Turin.
At our farm Cascina Oschiena my family and I grow rice and emmer, but cultivation is not our only commitment. We are deeply involved in safeguarding the environment, and committed to biodiversity and conserving the historical landscape.
Over the years, we have made renovations to maintain the essence and character of the original structures, honoring a centuries-old history of our farmhouse.
With extreme care and attention, we have preserved all the ancient buildings.The drying kiln and the silos necessary for modern rice cultivation have been seamlessly integrated into the traditional architecture while the stables, which once housed carthorses, have been converted into storage space for tractors and other agricultural equipment, but barn owls keep on living in the ancient barns with lancet arches.
In 2012 we installed photovoltaic panels which have allowed us to reduce our energy consumption from non-renewable sources and to decrease our CO2 emissions, thus making the farm more ecologically sustainable.
We also participated in a project called ECORICE which is part of the European Life Natura 2000 program. The aim of the project is to protect the environment, encourage biodiversity and improve local ecosystems by recreating ancient rural landscapes. We have restored a spring through the widening of the outlet and the reforestation of the riverbanks and I have planted hedges and tall trees along the embankments of the rice fields.
Today we planted over 5000 trees and bushes recreating the ancient landcape as it was in the past centuries, just like I discovered from looking at old maps of the Farm.
Also thanks to our commitments to increase biodiversity and improve ecosystems, our farm has been recognized an Ecological Protected Area at European level. The fields surrounding our farmhouse constitute the last recorded Italian nesting site of the Black-tailed Godwit, this is one of the reasons that brought us create the Cascina Oschiena Nature Reserve by converting 60 acres (one fourth of the farmland) from rice cultivation to Natural Reserve and the Black-tailed Godwit became the symbol of our Farm and its Products.