Rustic and austere: the perfect combination of Cascina Lago Scuro.
Cascina Lago Scuro was founded more than two centuries ago and was recovered in 1990 by Fabio and Paola, Luca Gresselli’s parents, with the precise idea of protecting the rights of nature, safeguarding its freedom of growth and promoting the creative autonomy of the individual.
The naked, raw beauty of the manor house takes the rusticity of the context by the hand. Classicism, elegance, and nature fit perfectly together intending to create a simple and genuine product. The rooms are divided between the main villa, the kitchen, the vegetable gardens, the animals, the farmers’ houses, and why not, a nursery, or rather, to stay in theme, an agrinido. Nothing better to create a whole community aimed at protecting the environment, sustainable food production, the healthy growth of tomorrow’s future minds, as in the past, but in a whole new way. Today it is Luca and his wife Federica who manage it with their super team.
What is the story of Cascina Lago Scuro? How was it born?
I studied philosophy in Milan for five years and then attended the Master of Gastronomic Sciences at Pollenzo in Food Culture and Communication; from then on, I decided that this was my way, investing in the Cascina.
The company has always been in the family, and in 1990 my parents took it back into management. When they decided to change their life by coming here, they started by taking the cows for milking. The idea was to produce everything organically. So, we started with the animals and a small kitchen, then slowly from what comes what: the dairy, the vegetable garden, and all the individual activities. Now we are 15 people to manage it together with me, my wife and the activities have been developing more and more from eight years ago until now.
What is the soul of Cascina Lago Scuro?
Mainly I would call it a seaport, with people coming and people going. We call it “the backwash,” in the sense that it is a place that is home to many people and many different souls, first of all, for us who work there and then for the people who come, who pass, who leave something of themselves. The idea is that it is a place where people can express themselves, because, for me, the client must also express himself, in the end this is a home, for better or for worse. When people are here I always say that they don’t have to judge only the dish because it’s only a part, but that they have to understand the project in its entirety: food, in the end, is just a filter to then talk about something else, about family, work, culture.
What are the products you produce?
Mainly raw milk cheeses, bread, preserves, vegetables, biscuits, salami for own use, eggs (we have about a hundred laying hens grazing), cow meat, pork: the idea is to be multifunctional, with many products. The farm, in general, is spread over 36 hectares of which 14 are just for grazing, which works with the New Zealand method, where every three days the animals move around the plot (at least three days pass before they return to the same field), so the grass has a way to grow back each time. We haven’t been plowing for practically 20 years. Then there are 2 hectares for the vegetable garden; the rest is forage for the cows, with which we produce the hay; finally, we grow wheat, rye, monocoque, to make bread. Everything we produce we use for the consumption of Cascina Lago Scuro.
How would you define your production methodology?
Chaotic, first of all – he says, laughing. Then undoubtedly multifaceted and multifunctional. The idea is to start from the raw material and get to the finished product, even if this process is sometimes unsuccessful: for all products, these are complicated processes. But it is a real process; we want to be as authentic as possible, where possible.
We have been certified organic since 1990 on all products.
Are there any other activities related to Cascina Lago Scuro?
We do markets, tasting evenings, organic fairs, and finally tastings with the producer when it happens. On wines, we work with external producers. I like that it is a place with a very open soul towards the outside world.
What inspires you to do what you do every day?
We work a lot on weekends with hospitality, evenings and lunches. I would like to make a place that is a shop, a bakery, and a restaurant; the future project is to create a new location in the farmhouse to gather people.
On climate change, have there been events that have changed or affected your production?
Not directly, for example, the cow is an animal that adapts: by making it live in the pasture, it also adapts a lot to climate change because it can find its peace and development even in environments different from those to which it is accustomed. If you create a place that produces little of everything, you develop with the environment, you try to find solutions to the problems, and it is also easier. But if you make big numbers and developments, when climate change shows up, it’s more evident and complicated to move around. Our methodology is more accessible: if we do little of everything, one thing helps the other. These are realities that help each other, and that adapt, and it’s easier to adapt if you stay small.
Have you adopted climate change mitigation strategies?
We use a lot of glass, we try to recycle, reuse. There is a project on plastic-free, but it takes a little while before we implement it.