The strawberry is a niche crop in Sicily. Traditionally, this fruit had been grown on almost the entire island, but today cultivation is concentrated between Marsala (TP), Cassibile (SR) and the Etna area. All strawberries have their own distinctive organoleptic characteristics. The assortment was recently enriched by strawberries from Castronovo di Sicilia, where the crop is grown at more than 500 metres above sea level.
Irene Miceli Soletta
Irene Miceli Soletta, head of the family business that has been growing white-fleshed peaches and pears for years, explained why this strawberry is so special.
"We only started growing strawberries a few years ago, but we wanted to do it right from the very beginning. We have equipped ourselves with high-tech greenhouses, we grow above ground at a height of 1.25 meters to prevent contamination through the soil and to promote the well-being of the grower, who does not have to pick with his back bent."
The taste and texture of this strawberry are mainly due to the special environmental conditions, given the unusual altitude and the irrigation water with a conductivity of over 1700 µS. These salinity values would be quite extreme for a strawberry, but are supervised by Irene Miceli Soletta.
"We currently grow the strawberries on half a hectare, but we plan to expand this soon, because thanks to the quality and the unique and excellent taste, these strawberries are very much appreciated by our trading partners. Encouraged by its success, we have renamed our strawberry La Fragola dei Monti Sicani."
This year, we introduced the Melissa and Marisol varieties, are flowering again and which are not only very productive but also ripen just in time for harvest, namely from December to July. This anticipates the season by two months. Formally, we are subject to an integrated pest management system, we do not use synthetic crop protection agents, but beneficial insects and predatory mites to control plant diseases. And we have bumblebees for pollination."
"Our market is currently mainly regional and the strawberries are primarily sold to the Horeca, confectionery and ice cream bars. Our crop is available in 250-gram trays, placed in 30x40 boxes, ten per box. The quantities will reach 25 tons this year and the prices are in line with the market," said Miceli Soletta.
The company grows fresh summer fruits such as the white-fleshed Montagnola peach and pears on a total of 20 hectares for a quantity of 200 tons per year.
For more information:
Irene Miceli Soletta
Azienda Agricola Miceli Soletta
C.da Piano Ristagno sn.
90030 Castronovo di Sicilia (PA) - ITALY