Many people may not know that near Bologna there is a place dedicated to the preservation of more than 150 old varieties of fruit and that 500 trees of apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums and cherries have been planted there. The "Pomario", the orchard of the Museo della Civiltà Contadina (Museum of Rural Civilization), covers an area of 9000 square metres in the park of Villa Smeraldi (Smeraldi Mansion) located in the Municipality of Bentivoglio. The “Pomario” is a truly open-air museum wanted and managed by the Villa Smeraldi Institution, set up in 1999 by the former Province of Bologna, now the Metropolitan City, and supported by the Municipalities of Bologna, Bentivoglio and Castel Maggiore to manage the “Museo della Civiltà Contadina” and the complex of buildings, the Mansion and the Park, in which it is located.
The “Pomario” is one of the results of the project of the former Province of Bologna for the protection and enhancement of biodiversity, financed with funds from the Regional Rural Development Plan, carried out in collaboration with the University of Bologna - Department of Tree Crops.
The orchard-pomarium offers students, teachers, families and visitors the chance to appreciate the shapes, sizes and colours of fruit and vegetables from the past - such as fruits that are now forgotten but which had a long-standing reputation in the Bolognese area and were common in markets in the Nineteenth and much of the Twentieth centuries - and to rediscover the customs and flavours that today's distribution and commercial chains are not always able to offer.
Preserving these ancient fruit plants also has a genetic, economic and ecological significance as a reserve of biodiversity. The fruit is a source of genes that can be used to recover traits that have now disappeared and ancient virtues such as resistance to pathogens, environmental adaptability, etc...
The Orchard is divided into two compartments and contains, for the “Pomaceae”, 42 varieties of apples and 33 of pears; for the “Drupaceae” 34 among peaches, white and yellow, peaches nuts and flat peaches, 20 cherries, 13 plums and 5 apricots.
For some time now it has been possible for everyone to support the project by adopting or giving away a tree with the #ILOVEPOMARIO campaign. With an annual contribution of € 30 you can have a nameplate on the tree with the name of the adopter and you can take part in the guided fruit harvests that are organised during events, accompanied by activities and workshops, or you can book to harvest on your own on other days.
The campaign continued even during the periods of containment measures for Covid-19 but it was not possible to carry out collective harvests of fruit. It was therefore decided that adoptions made in 2020 are extended to the whole of 2021 without the need for further contributions.