The word Avella is derived from the latin root Abella, meaning – BEE. I personally have chosen this name for the farm due to where my Great Great Grandparents came from in Southern Italy. They left the small farming village of Avella in the early 1900’s and landed on the East Coast of the US, making their way to Providence, RI. They proceeded to have an enormous family, giving birth to 15 children. There is much talk today in our circles about honoring our ancestors and to me this is a direct link back to the old people whom gave up thousands of years of connection with a land they were familiar with to cross a huge ocean and start a new life. I am fourth generation Italian American on my Fathers Mothers side and the connection to these ancestors seems like I almost know them personally through stories, pictures, and channeling their spirit through my own DNA. I grew up hearing much about the large Italian family my father and grandmother were part of, hearing about the gatherings, the communal living, and most of all the food.
I was raised on tradition; Italian swear words, huge family gatherings, and my personal favorite: the Sunday dinners. You knew that no matter who was around you could count on the pot of gravy being slowly cooked down to put over the macaroni. In the early days everything was made from scratch. Semolina wheat flour for the pasta, tomatoes and fresh basil for the gravy, and special recipes for the meatballs. These are the images that fill my childhood memories. Being a food lover and environmentalist it was only natural that when I came of age I wanted to become a farmer. My father raised my sister and I to know the basics about composting and growing food; knowledge passed down to him from growing up around his Italian uncles. There wasn’t a year we ever went without a garden, nor a time that all leaves or food wastes didn’t get turned into soil for growing the tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, and squash. Having this knowledge passed down to me seemed like a waste had I conformed to the modern ways of life. I took this ancient knowledge and expanded upon it, learning to save seed at around 8 years old, attaining wisdom about herbal medicine at 19 and cultivating vegetables at age 24.
I have been a farmer for most of my adult life, cultivating the soil mostly by hand, learning about the rhythms of the Earth to irrigate only with rain, and harvesting/growing medicinal herbs to keep the body healthy. The focus has been completely surrounded around the aspect of health, health for our bodies as well as health for the Earth. This has lead to the year round endeavor at two locations. Half the year is spent in Hiram, Maine and the other in Platanillo, Costa Rica. At Avella Farm the mission is to practice ancient agricultural ways of producing high quality herbs, veggies, and fruit in a permaculture environment. Sharing the knowledge through classes, demonstrations, gatherings, herb festivals, interns and farm stays is super important to the story of Avella Farm. We strive to keep everything as practical as possible so humans can take the knowledge back to their communities and spread it around like wild flower. I know my Great Great Grandparents would be happy with the life choices I have made. They would be happy that their Great Great Grandparents knowledge was not lost in our technological age.