Reducing Food Dependence

Many governments are talking about reducing dependence on fossil fuels and thereby increasing the state’s autonomy but I have a new idea. Why don’t we try to produce 80% of our own food by 2013?

What is we started making preserves and other foods to last through the next winter? We could grow basil and make pesto, we could jar our own applesauce, etc. and we could then use these to barter for the things we don’t have, like eggs.

If we get a goat we could make goat’s cheese and trade that for mountain herbs with Maurizio up in his chalet. We could then trade the herbs for other things we need.

The easiest way to translate labour into tangible objects is by producing food. Food can be traded for other commodities based not on monetary value but on personal value. You could then trade your labour for pasta from a local producer of pasta, or we could even start making our own pasta!

Wednesdays the town square is filled with traveling vendors, what if we could set up a stand on another day trading what our community produces with other producers of surplus commodities.

The value is in the ceremony of the exchange when currency is taken out of the equation. Get to know the producer and the food will be infinitely more valuable than any packaging could ever imply. The producer has a vested interest in feeding you good food because in this case the consumer is not separated by thousands of miles.

Rifugio Angelo Sebastiani

Near the top of Mount Terminillo there is a mountain refuge which is presided over by Maurizio S. Maurizio came out smiling and gave us two coffees. We told him we were making a community down in Posta and then we had a discussion about art. Maurizio told us he wants to start growing vegetables and we said we have some land to do so. He said he has no time to come down from the mountain (a very long trip), but he was very interested in creating a currency free trade zone. We told him we could grow the veggies and exchange them for the rare mountain herbs that he has access to.

Yesterday Enzo told me he was going to give me some very valuable cooking ingredients. He too is not interested in receiving money for this service. I find these all to be good indications that maybe, with a bit of energy and effort, we could form a finance free network around this area.

Later we went to lunch in Villa Camponeschi where we met the former director of the largest bank in the region. He said that this area was one of the poorest both financially and culturally because of its geographical position. Being surrounded by mountains and cut off from all communication for centuries, these little towns have become quite insular and, he claimed, self interested. He said there is nothing uniting the inhabitants except greed. He then took my number saying that he could find a way to help us by providing extra accommodation should our group require it… for a low price.

I have found in life that usually when people claim a society or a group of people are a certain way they are often speaking for themselves… without knowing it.

Hiking to Monte di Cambio

Today we hiked about 3/4 of the way to Mont di Cambio. We couldn’t get all the way to the top because we got a late start and the sun was already setting when we got to Monte Iacci. The trails around this area are well marked and one could go hiking for several days, staying in refuges and passing through small towns and villages. Perhaps in the winter we could start snowshoeing.

The mountain paths are all maintained by CAI, the Italian Alpine Club. They have meet-ups and excursions in the area, the most recent being a trek for chestnuts in Antrodoco.

Hiking and mountain biking appear to be popular sports in the Apennines as many organizations and individuals maintain very informative websites about outdoors activities in the area.

Antichi Mestieri

There is a lot of talk in the Italian media these days of “ancient crafts” that have all but disappeared from everyday life. A widely publicized story involves Marco Grazietti, a 27 year old with a degree in Biotechnology who opted for a career as a shoemaker. Another article is about a Peruvian shoemaker who took over for a retiring Italian because no else wanted to continue the business (The Peruvian man hope to hand the business down to his son someday). There are many such opportunities all over Italy.

Despite the “crisis”, many consumers are now opting to spend more for quality foods and products. Perhaps we have learned our lesson that by saving a bit of money and buying corporate, in the long term we helped eliminate many craftspeople’s livelihoods while inflating multinationals and in the end getting a less durable (IKEA) or processed (insert corporate food chain) meals. In addition we lose contact with our community and send money across the globe that just winds up in shareholders’ bank accounts.

In Borbona this morning, the local pastry chef’s wife was lamenting the fact that many people want their pastries, but they don’t have the energy to keep up with the demand. They use no preservatives and the croissants are perfect, but they only make a very few of them each day because the pasticero is 70 years old and doesn’t want to get up at 4 AM any more.

Some bloggers have even claimed that becoming a shoemaker (or any other of these ancient crafts) has become the fashion. In Posta, there are many of these professions that are dying out because no one wants to do them. Perhaps we could start filling in these positions with foreigners afflicted by the crisis? I already have my heart set on becoming an arrotino! -(Just like Spinoza)

Market Day

Wednesday is market day when all the vendors come to the main piazza to sell their goods. The best time to stock up on veggies is therefore Wednesday. There are also people selling housewares, clothing and shoes. 

Aida, who needed help carrying her groceries home, filled me in on all the gossip that concerned me as we walked to her house. Aida, it turns out, was Serena’s uncle’s girlfriend back in the day.

Speaking of gossip, Emma at the little shop in Bacugno, said there is a lack of it since the arrotini have disappeared. An arrotino is a person that travels from village to village on a bicycle that is fitted with a grindstone. As he arrives in the village he announces that all the women should grab their knives and their scissors because the arrotino will sharpen them on the spot, and if you have a small gas leak in the kitchen or if your kitchen ventilation is blocked, the arrotino will fix that too. Needless to say there are countless stories about the arrotini quite similar in nature to the milkman in English speaking countries. 

Emma also spoke of how the arrotino is essential to the community because they encounter many people in any given day and they are really representative of the community and also have all the gossip!

I think that PostaHouse should be equipped with an arrotino bicycle and I will now take “mountain bike” off the wish-list and replace it with “grinder’s bike”.

As I exited Emma’s shop I was accosted by locals who were informing me of new tricks for roasting chestnuts and recipes to get rid of all these apples in the kitchen.

Road to Bacugno

On second thought, maybe we could get an arrotino/mountain bike hybrid. Otherwise how would one get from village to village on these roads?

Halloween in Posta

Unfortunately Halloween has even arrived here and just like we used to do in our small town in the States, the local children get a big kick out of playing “Ding-Dong-Ditch” or “Ring and Run” depending on the area you grew up in. I am sure there are equivalents in every language.

It started earlier than I expected, which is why I fell for it the first three times (okay, it was 5 in the afternoon). As it got dark out I could here them coming down the street (the only street in Posta) and they were all shushing each other. Then the doorbell rang and everyone scattered, expecting me to lose my temper and chase them away with a burning stick perhaps, but I just sat here finishing an article that was due a week ago.

By about ten o’clock at night and after about the 20th ring and run I began looking for a stick to light in the fireplace. Thankfully they stopped and probably had to go to bed. They were laughing so much as they ran away, I remember when we used to get such a rush from such innocent pleasures…

As soon as we get our pet goat, we will train it to defend us from such intruders!


 Or perhaps not…

Sagra della Castagna

Today in one of the neighboring villages (Micigliano) they had what is called a sagra. A sagra is small fair that usually celebrates a natural bounty, in this case the chestnut.

The town of Micigliano.

In the main square of the town they have communal tables set up for eating. then they have a ticket desk where you pay for what you want. Then you get in line. You wait in line for your turn to get some food.

A typical scene at a sagra.

A sagra is a chance to get some of the best local food produced by the townspeople (collectively) for the enjoyment of everyone. Usually you need a car to get to a sagra, or in my case a bike, because they are held in small town that are off the beaten path.


Today Serena and I had a chat about the budget. I have been keeping track of about how much it costs to run this place and, of course, the more people we have the less it will cost per person. This is what it comes down to:

To cover the costs of heating, electricity, internet, municipal taxes on the house, etc., we ask for a donation based on the number of people that are in the house. Therefore if there are only two people in the house it will be a donation of €10 per person per day. If there are three people it will be €8 per person per day, and so on. This is only to cover the everyday running of the house (and heating which can be a bit pricey), so it does not include food.

Also, to keep the house running smoothly and to make sure we all have time to work on our personal projects while also improving the quality of life at PostaHouse, we ask that everyone contribute at least two hours a day five times a week. These two hours will be spent preparing meals, cleaning, etc. This comes to a total of 10 hours. We would also like that guests/participants contribute at least six hours a week toward community projects (i.e.: construction, building, repair, research, IT work). This comes to a total of 16 hours weekly between chores and community projects. That leaves everyone ample time to work on their own projects and also to enjoy the countryside, walks, etc.

Serena Anderlini writes:

The destiny of Posta House is manifesting at this momentous time in human and planetary history. As a Love Art Exchange Lab, the facility will host the first ecosexual intentional community in central Italy. It will inspire diverse people to come together in peace, joy, and sacred unity to experiment with collective, interrelated ways of living.

We are transforming this ancestral home into a space equipped for collective living and a love art laboratory with multiple activity rooms for workshops in the arts of creative expression, loving, and living consciously and in harmony with nature, the past, the future, and our own nature as a highly creative, imaginative, sensuous, and gregarious species.

We are creating an ecosexual art colony for creative people willing to offer inventiveness, creativity, and good stewardship. The structure will function as a contact zone where people of diverse backgrounds, languages, origins, colors, orientations, genders, age groups, and cultures will meet in mutual respect and good listening.

We will activate the facility on multiple levels: fix small glitches from recent usage, configure areas for collective use, equip an art lab and a workshop room, install a flat-screen visual and sound system, and put garden space to use for production of healthy food.

We are looking for talented people to join the team! Are you a good repair person, gardener, administrator, driver, decorator, carpenter, plumber, performance artist, Italian speaker, cook, spiritual leader, yoga teacher, systems engineer, maintenance person, artisan, wood carver, tree lover, website builder? Let us know. We can use all of these skills and more! We will make a plan with you with a timeline and specific commitments.

We offer hospitality and a place to live in a charming, fully-equipped home in a restored 18th century building that interfaces with the town on the one hand and the land, garden, valley, river on the other. The facility is equipped with pellet furnaces for heating, fireplace, a fully equipped modern kitchen and dining room, several beds over several multiple use rooms, a full and a half bath, a large library, charming decorations and art work, a fully functioning high-speed internet system with wi-fi in every room, water, electricity and all other utilities. The drinking water from nearby mountains is delicious.

We expect maximum respect for all project participants, property, building, and equipment. Flexibility. Inventiveness. Collaborative skills. Willingness to honor your commitments. Payment of a deposit for 300 Euros to be returned at end of stay minus eventual unpaid bills. Payment of utility bills and pellet fuels, plus personal necessities and food. Work toward established goals in collaboration with team. Willingness to be coachable and stay on course in the face of difficulties.

We expect to launch the Love Art Exchange Lab in the summer of 2012 with a diverse calendar of events. Participation in the project team equals priority in choice related to the use of the facility.

What’s your dream? Let us know and maybe we can make it happen together!

You can also request a hang-out session on Google+ or Skype with Jeffrey and the owner, Serena Anderlini. Both will also answer questions as they post on the PostaHouse wall. Our local networks in Italy may offer support too, please ask if interested.

Donations to the project are welcome at 3WayKiss.




In Ancient Greek, the term oikos means both household and family. All the people living under one roof make up the oikos, and they are not all related. There would be a mother and father, but there would also be numerous other individuals living in the house. Their collective goal was to improve the life and increase prosperity for every member of the oikos.

I think that community is a bit like an oikos. All the people living together and contributing what they can in order to make the collective enjoy life more.