The term “Olio Caldo” (Hot Oil) comes from a scene narrated in the “Myth of the Sapphire Masks”, a tale by Falco in which at some point, the characters are able to fight off the cold by spreading the magic of “Hot Oil” over their skin.

“Olio Caldo” is for us a synonymous with self-sufficiency, so self-produced products, ecology, sustainability, saving, and research: this goes for food and for all areas of our life, including culture.

How it all begun?

“Olio Caldo” was an experiment in self-sufficiency. In 1985, all citizens of Damanhur took turns experiencing a period in which we ate only self-produced food and wore only clothes and footwear that were made within the community. The means of transportation was limited to two old bicycles and a rickety hand-pulled wagon. For most of us, this experimentation period was short yet intense.

We milked a cow at six in the morning in order to have milk for breakfast. We washed our clothes by hand with ash (this is how clothes were washed in the past). We made clothing from fabrics that were woven on a loom then hand-sewn. We walked in homemade wooden shoes for miles and harvested cane to weave baskets for transporting chestnuts and other items foraged from the earth. We whisked the skim from the milk in a churn to make butter. We pedaled to produce the electricity needed to light the only light bulb in the house. We ate wild herbs and seasonal fruits that we harvested as our main meal, and much more. Needless to say, this was an adventure that changed the perspectives of everyone who experienced it!

Reaching self sufficiency

Today, in addition to self-sufficiency, we wish to expand the criteria for evaluating the quality of life to both material and spiritual aspects. The actual dimensions of the project are no longer those of the mountain chalet from thirty years ago. Since 1985, Damanhur has purchased many agricultural properties, renovated a farm where we produce organic vegetables and grains for 600 people, built greenhouses throughout the communities and much more. Thirty years later, the pioneering spirit that characterized the first experiment is alive and always creating something new.

Organic Nutrition

Damanhur’s organic agriculture can currently handle about 50% of the food needs for its 600 citizens. In addition to production, the goal is to preserve the quality of the food. After all, it’s important to eat healthy foods, and they should also taste good! All forms of agriculture, animal raising and food conservation are carried out according to organic criteria, avoiding any risk of GMO contamination. These days, perhaps the only guarantee of food authenticity comes from knowing where and how it was grown.

Damanhurian farmers have created companies that are involved with extensive crops, horticulture and livestock on behalf of the entire community. Smaller initiatives also exist in the various communities: orchards, vegetable gardens, vineyards and beehives, as well as raising pigs, chickens, fish and so on. Other agricultural activities also take place in Tuscany, where many Damanhurian Initiates live. Some produce their own organic and biodynamic wines, others caretake an olive grove that is owned by Damanhur. In general, Damanhur produces grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, eggs, different kinds of meat, cheese, olive oil, baked goods, wine and honey…and all of it is nutritiously delicious!

In order to distribute these food products to both Damanhurians and a wider customer base, the Tentaty market was opened in 1998. Tentaty is currently located in Damanhur Crea, where it serves as a distribution center for natural products-both Damanhurian ones and others that are certified organic.

A Seed Bank

The objective of the Seed Bank project is protecting plant biodiversity, as well as self-sufficiency with the production of seeds.
The increasingly common term “biodiversity” refers to varieties of wild plants as well as those cultivated for food. Many plant species have been developed over the centuries through selective intervention by humans and the environment. Today, intensive agriculture uses only a small variety of species because it is more profitable.

For human nutrition, only 150 major species are cultivated, and among these just a few of them account for 90% of the food produced. By 2050, an estimated 40,000 species will have disappeared, compared to the variety that was available at the dawn of agriculture in the beginning of human history. Basically, this is a disaster of epic proportions. Fortunately, many seedsavers are working worldwide to conserve seeds that would otherwise be lost forever.

The Damanhurian Seed Bank activities include researching local food varieties and their cultivation, and the production and conservation of seeds.
Currently, the Seed Bank has about 30 varieties of vegetable species, most of which are local, and a total of a few thousand seeds.
Over the years, Damanhurian farmers have collaborated with various seedsaver organizations, particularly with the “Associazione Civiltà Contadina” (Association of Rural Life), by creating working groups and exchange at a local and regional level.

Natural ingredients and good, wholesome, delicious food

Food that is grown and produced at Damanhur is all superb in quality and taste, because the Olio Caldo philosophy values naturalness and self-sufficiency, but never forgetting quality. Damanhur citizens love good food! After all, Damanhur is in Italy! We have recipes with the highest quality natural ingredients, always taking into consideration taste, aroma, color and presentation of each product or dish. Many of the products represent examples of excellent local cuisine.

For example, Scarabeo Rafano, the Damanhur cheesemaker, creates cheeses with milk fresh from cows in the local valley, and it is also integrated with other organic milks. Scarabeo recuperates traditional ways and also creates new recipes. He works with his partner, Visone Magnolia, who produces healthy and nutritious organic ice cream.

Honey and propolis produced by Merinos Timo Serpillo is obtained from bee families that are spread throughout the Damanhurian communities, where there are many varieties of plants and flowers that these industrious little insects can access.
Other local gourmet products include the cold-pressed olive oil from the Rimaggio olive groves made by Damanhurians living in Florence, Italy and the organic and biodynamic Tuscan wines made by Fattoria Castellina and Fratelli Falzari. Speaking of wine, red and white varieties of Erbaluce Aval wine are vintaged by the Aval nucleo community. The Pan mi Piace bakery makes fresh bread daily using various grains, and also delicious pastries and organic panettone cake during the holidays, as well as other treats.

Many of these products are available at Tentaty, while others are decidedly niche and not on the market. If you would like to make reservations to eat at the Tarassaco restaurant on our farm, you can enjoy some of the products. We are sure that you will appreciate their taste and substance!