To reach the Palagano livestock firm you have to leave Latronico and take a mountain road dominated by Mount Alps, and from its top “Santa Croce”, says Ruth Palagano, “you can see in the dawn of a clear day, the two gulfs by the sea far away.”
We are in the district of Pargo, in the Pollino National Park, and along the way you will find the first herds of “Podolic cows” owned by the company, which is located at 963 meters above the sea level.
Ruth is a young 34 year old entrepreneur with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a thesis on Podolic Cow, now manager of the family business for over a year. From an early age a strong passion for the countryside and the animals animated Ruth. “Going with my father on the farm is one of the most beautiful memories related to my childhood. With my cousin, who has the same age as me, we used to get ready, already dressed, at 6 in the morning. Sometimes I was able not to sleep overnight otherwise my father, in fear of waking me up, wouldn’t bring me with him. Years later, the pleasant memories of her childhood have materialized and become a full time job.
“Mine is a family of farmers, we could count at least three generations until 1890, when the great-grandfather bred a few specimens of Podolica.” This is well reflected in the corporate brand, but also in some photos, yellowed by time, that Ruth shows us proudly. The pictures depict the locations of the company, as it once were, and his family: his grandfather, her parents, boyfriends at that time, and also uncles and aunts. Now the whole family is dedicated to the company. “My father takes care of the farm along with my uncles while my mother, my aunts and cousins work with me in the butcher shop we opened in Latronico in 1986”, says Ruth.
In the butchery the mark of the Consortium of the High Quality Italian Beef Breeders (CCBI), is widely displayed. This is a warranty of the high quality of the Podolica meat offered to people who come to Latronico to shop and enjoy the local spa and thermal baths. The butcher sells Podolica meat, lambs and baby goats of their own production as well as pork and chicken in much lower percentage, purchased from third parties but worked by the family. The precious traditions are kept alive in the manufacture of cheeses and sausages sold directly in the butchery. “The sausage is made just with pork, salt and ground “Crusco sweet pepper”, a Lucan speciality, with no preservatives at all,” while in the “sauzizzone,” says the mother of Ruth,” we add clean blanched pork rind, and ground fennel seeds for those who asks for”. This year, their fresh goat cheese made with raw milk has been awarded in the international competition for the best cheeses called “Rome Prize”.
In the management of the company, the transmission of knowledge and traditions are combined with the most innovative aspects. Ruth plans to restructure the cattle farm, to expand and diversify the production of goat cheese and to implement an educational farm, having already obtained the necessary certificate from ALSIA. The project also includes the imminent opening of a bed and breakfast in the main town square, with a restaurant below, where Ruth’s aunt and cousin will work as soon as he will completing a Ph.D. program in Parma. In the dining room will find a place a sculpture in wood made by a craftsman from Rotonda, another nice village. The sculpture reproduces a photo of his grandfather with the plow and two Podolica cows and witness the encounter between tradition and innovation.