LIVINGAGRO investigates ecological and agroforestry practices used to attract tourists looking for sustainable holidays: a case study from Sardinia


What are the ecological and agroforestry practices used by Mediterranean agroforestry entrepreneurs in order to attract tourists looking for sustainable holidays?

An interesting interview on the topic was carried out by LIVINGAGRO partner no. 5, ATM Consulting, to further investigate the context of operation of the transnational project aiming at identifying innovations for both Mediterranean olive multifunctional systems and grazed woodlands.

An interesting case-study was investigated in Ogliastra, where a tandem between a farm (Tenute il Maggese) and a French tour operator (Sardaigne en Liberté) was achieved.  In the heart of Sardinia, Tenute il Maggese is at the helm of a blossoming consortium of farms where ecological and agroforestry practices are used to attract tourists looking for sustainable holidays.

“We intend to compensate the fact that Sardinia is an island and to reach its shores tourists have to travel on very polluting transport means, such as the airplane, by offering them an unforgettable experience in accordance with the rhythm and laws of nature,” says Stefania Demurtas who runs the farm together with her husband Salvatore Marongiu.

Tenute il Maggese is based in Tortolì, a municipality in Ogliastra, east-central Sardinia, where saffron, ancient grains and legumes are grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Everything started after Stefania took over the farm from her parents and “since we intended to achieve food self-sufficiency, we started producing cultivars which need less growing treatments so that we would not be spending all our time in the fields”.

Since July 2021, Tenute il Maggese and other farms of the network, are hosting North-European tourists coming to Sardinia through the French tour operator Sardinia Fair Travel (Sardaigne en Liberté). “We planted around 50 fruit trees plus a number of support trees thanks to the donation from responsible tourists to produce biomass mimicking the way trees grow in forests,” Stefania explained. “Through this system that imitates the stratified development of trees in the wild, it is possible to more than double the number of planted trees, so that the plants needing less light grow below those which need more, ensuring that all of them are able to carry out photosynthesis. By doing so, trees grow more tightly together enriching overall biodiversity”. Other key points of the tree plantation technique include water management: in fact, trees are planted on level curves in order to favour the absorption of rain and the management of pruning.

The farm and the tour operator are, thus, providing tourists with a holiday offer that reduces their carbon footprint, even if they are not yet fully capable of quantifying the extent of such a reduction. Tenute il Maggese also regularly hosts courses on permaculture open to all those who are interested in the subject.