The Montebello Cooperative - now Gino Girolomoni Cooperative - in Isola del Piano, in the province of Pesaro-Urbino, is headquartered in the ancient eponymous monastery and is the cradle of organic agriculture in Italy, of which Gino Girolomoni was a forerunner. In 1970, Girolomoni was elected mayor of Isola del Piano and his political and private mission was to protect the identity and culture heritage of the small town he was responsible for. In 1977, he and his wife Tullia founded the Alce Nero Cooperative, Italy’s first organic brand, which was sold in 2004. The Montebello farmland are a laboratory for a brand of agriculture that incorporates the ultimate in farming technology and an utter respect for the environment, in a spirit of global sustainability. These are the core values of a type of production which Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2092/91 indicated as organic. After Girolomoni’s passing away in 2012, the Cooperative is run by his children Samuel, Maria and Giovanni Battista, who is also the president.
The development of the Montebello Cooperative
The renewed cultural, farming and economic boom occurring in the past 40 years has persuaded an increasing number of farmers to resume their activities and to turn the desolate farmstead into guesthouses. The cooperative covers an area of 150ha crops surrounded by nearly 2,000ha state forest. The premises of the old monastery comprise guest rooms, meeting rooms and an ethnographic museum, warehouses, animal sheds and a pasta factory. All the electricity comes from renewable sources.
Beyond organic cereal farming
30 associates, 37 employees and a 10 million Euro revenue are only a few of the figures that describe the success of the Montebello Cooperative. In addition to cereals, the cooperative produces a wide array of organic foods, which include sauces, legumes, balsamic vinegar, coffee, couscous, various types of flour, rice and olive oil. Each stage of the production is strictly regulated and controlled.