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The Farm at Brunnenburg, South Tyrol

Sharon Palmer

I had an amazing experience studying about sustainable food systems at Brunnenburg this past summer. I learned about the local food traditions, the history of agriculture, and how to operate a mixed, organic farm at Brunnenburg Castle, located in South Tyrol, Italy. The castle is managed by the family of Ezra Pound, who wrote his classic pieces of literature during his time living here. We stayed in an old farmhouse in the estate of the 13th century castle, which was restored by Pound’s daughter Mary (who, at 93, still lives at the castle) and her husband. Now, her grandsons Michael and Nik operate the farm, agricultural museum, and the castle, with scholars coming from all over the world to learn more about their farming style. Check out my educational experience at Brunnenburg here. And take a journey with some of the photos of life at the farm and castle.

A glimpse from the South Tyrol valley, viewed from the castle kitchen balcony.
Brunnenburg Castle, with the old farmhouse—which now serves as student and guest housing, in the foreground.
Stained glass windows of the castle.
Inside the castle.
One of the fields at Brunnenburg is dedicated to the potato, with a variety of rare, potato varieties planted in rows radiating out from the center—like beams from the sun.
Nik—great grandson of Pound—runs the farm at Brunnenburg. He also makes the wine, beer, spirits, and cooks! Here is giving a tour of the vineyards, which are based on disease resistant varieties that are not sprayed with pesticides.
Mary still walks up the steep hill from the castle into the nearby town. She enjoys talking to the visiting students, frequently opening her home to tea.
Apples are the biggest crop in South Tyrol—here they are growing on the farm.
The Williams pear is prized in South Tyrol, so Nik’s local pear juice is a real treat.
Chickens are a part of the daily life at the Brunnenburg farm.
The geese enjoy their pretty pond at the farm.
Goats thrive on the steep terrain of the farm.
The farm hosts this variety of black sheep with corkscrew horns. Farm animals in South Tyrol sport bells around their necks to help lead them. The tinkling of bells is a pleasantry on the farm. 
Siegfried (Sizzo) de Rachewiltz—grandson of Pound—created this agricultural museum on the castle grounds, as he started collecting historical artifacts related to farming. It’s a fascinating part of the life at Brunnenburg. Sizzo guides us on a historical tour of his current exhibit on the potato.
Sizzo guides us on a tour of agricultural tools in the museum.
Our group of students enjoying a break at the castle.
We enjoyed two farm-to-table dinners at Brunnenburg, with ingredients harvested mere hours before the meal. This zucchini soup with tomatoes and pesto was such an example.
One night farm-to-table dinner was focused on some of the copper age menu items which was enjoyed by early man in this region.

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