The Ferrari Farm project and hydroponics in Italy
Ferrari Farm is the first European company to have sterile, hermetically sealed greenhouses for hydroponics in all of Europe! Learn about their work in this interview!
On a beautiful 30-hectare estate, located on the scenic hillside overlooking Lake Salto, is Ferrari Farm, a perfect environment to reconnect with nature. So, what’s special about it? Its incredible products are produced using an ancient technique that has futuristic potential: hydroponics. We spoke with Giorgia Pontetti, the owner and an electronic and aerospace engineer, who, together with her sister Valentina, has created something that inspires consumers, scientists and future generations by blending their family’s passion for the land with the technical and scientific skills derived from a lifetime of study and research.
Again this year, Giorgia Pontetti will participate in Maker Faire Rome 2023 to promote her farming technique and share the culture. We had the pleasure of interviewing her about her Ferrari Farm.
The origins of Ferrari Farm
Ferrari Farm was born from an unconditional love for nature that has its roots back in the 1920s. This bond comes from the family’s grandfather, a farmer originally from the Cicolano area, who passed on his agricultural knowledge and, above all, his respect for nature to the entire family, emphasizing the importance of feeling a connection with what is on the table every day. Taking a leap forward in time, it was in the early 2000s that Ferrari Farm, a certified organic farm, was officially founded. It proudly boasts being the first farm with the only plant for hydroponic cultivation in sterile and hermetic greenhouses in all of Europe. At the helm of this reality are sisters Giorgia and Valentina Pontetti. Giorgia, an aerospace and electronic engineer, is the originator of this innovative idea. She says she had an epiphany: if surgeons operate in clean rooms and microelectronics are developed in similar environments, why not also grow plants in such conditions to avoid pollution, both environmental and food? Thus began this extraordinary adventure that continues to this day.
Innovation starts with tradition
At Ferrari Farm, they have designed and built a hydroponic cultivation system that is unique in Europe. It is hermetic, sterile and fully computerized. By growing in these greenhouses with this type of system, there is no exchange with the external environment, thus allowing for the production of food independent of weather conditions and environmental pollution. Moreover, by growing in absolute sterile conditions, Ferrari Farm can avoid the use of phytosanitary treatments, having completely eliminated the problem of diseases and pathogens at the source. We had the pleasure of interviewing Giorgia Pontetti, who told us how she got started in this work, what it means to be a woman involved in agriculture thanks to science, and what is involved in starting such a business in Italy.
What does it mean to be a woman forging a path in agriculture by using science?
“Let’s say it was not easy at first, due to prejudices and old legacies that make women with scientific culture an exotic “character”! I learned, however, that all it takes is the right determination, a little tenacity and believing in your dreams to get the same chances as men. Technological innovation generally creates awe in its own right, let alone when applied to a thousand-year-old industry like agriculture with the vision of a woman! It’s the disruptive mix our country needs.”
Can you tell us about your project? How do hydroponics work at Ferrari Farm?
“We have designed and built a unique hydroponic growing facility in Europe, which is hermetic, sterile and fully computerized. Our facilities consist of two glass greenhouses, which use sunlight, and a phytotron vertical farm that is fully LED-lit (with special lamps designed and built by us), for vertical hydroponic cultivation. Growing in these greenhouses with our facilities, there is no exchange with the external environment, thus allowing production independent of weather conditions and environmental pollution. Moreover, growing in absolute sterile conditions, we can avoid phytosanitary treatments, having eliminated the problem of diseases and pathogens at the source. Our peculiarity is the ELECTRONIC CULTIVATION RECIPE: at all times, every day and throughout the life of the plant, the automatic computerized system commands and controls the entire cultivation.”
What do you currently produce and what are the Farm’s long-term goals?
“Starting with the highest quality raw materials that it cultivates, Ferrari Farm brings to life a collection of organic and hydroponic products characterized by an aromatic palette of authentic and natural flavors. Produced exclusively from the raw materials of our 100% organic crops and our sterile and hermetically sealed hydroponic crops, they are marketed in glass jars to ensure the freshness of authentic flavor without any alteration. We currently grow CEA tomato, basil and micro-greens hydroponically. For our long-term future plans, we are working on a project to reuse tomato leaves, which are considered waste for our activities, to create new health products also for pharmaceutical purposes. We also continue to cultivate the dream of building space greenhouses and vertical farms domestically and for large cities!”
Today Ferrari Farm produces many hydroponic products, making them accessible to everyone, such as hydroponically grown tomatoes from the most advanced technology or tomato puree, a real delicacy. An interesting product for lovers of Bloody Marys, their tomato nectar is perfect for this cocktail or in vegetable smoothies and juices, add just a pinch of salt and pepper to make it your own. This is just one example of what Ferrari Farm has managed to accomplish over the years. We asked Giorgia Pontetti one last question.
What do you expect from your project’s presence at Maker Faire Rome 2023?
“Like every year, we fervently await the start of Maker Faire to popularize and promote hydroponic CEA cultivation to a wide and diverse audience to share agri-“culture” and teaching of techniques and innovative products we commercialize.” Come learn about the work of Giorgia Pontetti at the Life area of Maker Faire Rome 2023, from October 20-22 at Fiera di Roma.
Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition has been committed since its very first editions to make innovation accessible and usable to all, with the aim of not leaving anyone behind. Its blog is always updated and full of opportunities and inspiration for makers, makers, startups, SMEs and all the curious ones who wish to enrich their knowledge and expand their business, in Italy and abroad.
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