Isabella Dalla Ragione. Archeologia Arborea Foundation (Non-Profit Organization of Social Utility) President
SAN LORENZO DI LERCHI, Italy — There are probably few places as tranquil as the languorous hills that surround Umbria’s Città di Castello. But on her farm, Isabella Dalla Ragione pursues a personal mission — saving ancient fruit trees from extinction — with a strong sense of urgency.
Rescuing vanishing varieties is a race, she says, “and lots of times we arrived late.”
If a plant dies, basta, it’s finished,” she adds. “You can’t preserve it.”
In that race, she picked up the baton at a young age from her father, Livio Dalla Ragione, who began scouring the surrounding countryside decades ago, searching for neglected fruit trees that no longer satisfied changing agricultural trends, market demands and modern tastes.
He collected branches with fresh buds and grafted them onto rootstock to create an orchard of endangered cherries, figs, apples, pears, peaches, quinces and other sundry species in a farmyard belonging to an abandoned church that he had bought in 1960.