“Agricoltori custodi” (Custodian farmers) is a network born on the initiative of the Gran Sasso Monti della Laga National Park, in the Central Apennines area. The geomorphological structure of the Park determines a noteworthy climate-vegetational diversification and therefore a remarkable variety in the agricultural landscapes. Nevertheless, in the last years agriculture has dramatically declined. In 2008 the Park began to promote a strategy and a program for enhancement and conservation of the local activities.
At very beginning, the network started to work on old cereals. Day by day the numbers and categories of plants increased (beans, vegetables, fruits, wild species) together with the interest from local young inhabitants. Today about 80 farmers, distributed in more than 30 different municipalities, are involved.
The members of the Custodian Farmers network are committed to: participate to conservation programs of local agricultural varieties, through the development of contacts and seed exchanges with others farmers of the network; preserve the seeds entrusted to them, through cultivation and all related necessary cares; contribute to the growth of culture and natural, historical and anthropological knowledge concerning the local crops and, in particular of the entrusted cultivation.
The Central Apennines Seed Bank controls and guarantees the quality and the seeds sources, in collaboration with the University of Camerino. The National Park entrusts the members of the network and assign them an exclusive permission to use the specific park label and hence to use for their product the typical geographical indication. Some products are recognised as Slow Food Presidia.