The Cuscusa farm

by admin on 10/10/2013

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The farm of Michele Cuscusa is situated on a hill near the village of Gonnostramatza.  His ancestors were mostly shepherds and peasants raising sheep and goats. His father was a shepherd doing transhumance, that is moving mainly sheep to the mountains in summer and to the lowlands in winter, and arrived at Campidano for the first time on horseback. In 1979 he and his family decided to move to Gonnostramatza and buy a property of 109 hectares and increasing it gradually. Michele and his brothers were entrusted with looking after flocks of sheep at a young age, making them good sheep farmers.

Now the Cuscusa farm extends to 168 hectares and renting 70 hectares of fertile terrain particularly suited to raising sheep and it is well provided with whatever is required for running a farm like shelters for the animals, a milking room, a room for sheep-shearing and a farmhouse dairy for producing organic cheese from raw milk.

Michele Cuscusa and his 3 brothers are cultivating fodder, maize and alfalfa or lucerne organically with the objective of improving the selection of the sheep at the farm with the inherent advantage of better cheese and in the course of several years due to only letting sheep with good qualities breed with high quality rams, the sheep of this farm all have pedigrees.

The Cuscusa farm is continually expanding and it is really a multifunctional enterprise: in addition to raising sheep and goats, they are also raising pigs and horses with which they arrange riding trips and they have a large restaurant where they serve their guests courses from the farm.

Michele is a man with lots of passion for agriculture and he told us how, during the boom in the 60s and 70s, peasants were advised to leave their farms in order to work in factories. Instead, he remained a farmer and he is convinced that industrialisation in Sardinia has led to very little, whereas agriculture is still wide-spread in the whole island.

Being a very active man, Michele told us about an interesting experience of his by letting two young Japanese men, Yiuchiro e Yoichi, work as apprentices at the farmhouse dairy. Obviously, they wanted to learn how to make cheese in a small dairy from a master cheese-maker. An article in Italian describes this experience further.

What Michele has found very interesting is the interaction between two different worlds, on the one hand the Japanese, most of  who know very little about cheese and how it is made, on the other hand the Sardinians who have been farmers and shepherds for ages.

The Cuscusa farm has a close bond with an Italian-Japanese organisation, which is called The vegetable garden of dreams or l’Orto dei sogni, which receives groups from Japan. Moreover, Michele participated actively in a yearly festival for good food at Siddi, called Appetitosamente.

Michele has also participated as speech holder at Siddi Wine Festival regarding how to make cheese. He has organised, among other things, a seminar on the low price of milk and he has held a speech at a Slow Food event in Oristano regarding cheese-making.

He is also the chairman of a major wine producer: Cantina di Mogoro.

Our impression of the Cuscusa farm was that it looked well integrated in the area, they are always trying to diversify their production with particular attention to making high quality products, but always connected to the traditional, pastoral way of Sardinia.

We thank Michele for his hospitality and for setting aside time for us.

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