The field she is talking about, a few hundred metres from the town centre, is two and a half hectares large. In autumn 2018 Sandra sowed Reseda on one hectare. The plant lifecycle is quite long, it lasts six months; after being cut – between the end of April and the beginning of May -, the plant is dried and subsequently stored, in Sandra’s case in a barn that ColorOff has available just out of town.
Every year, Quarantini keeps some seeds that will be needed for the next harvest. “Over the last three years the dyeing plant market has grown considerably. There is a large demand for Reseda, which is appreciated especially because it allows to obtain a bright, vibrant yellow” – she says.
After three years, production is still at an experimental stage. There are many questions that Sandra, used to doing research in a lab, is still trying to find an answer to: “How to combat weeds without using chemical herbicides? What is the best harvesting method? The only machine that can do it is manufactured in Singapore and is very expensive. How could some currently-manual processes be automated?”.
At the moment, agricultural activities, i.e. growing, processing and selling Reseda, are the main source of income for the farm. In ColorOff’s laboratory Reseda is used roughly cut, but when it is sold to private customers it comes in a special cut called “herbal tea” cut. The machines that turn a rough cut into a “herbal tea”, more refined, one are extremely costly. This is why Sandra has the plants ground by third-party businesses, particularly those members of FIPPO, (the Italian Federation of Officinal Plants Producers), whom she met for the first time during the ReStartApp training course.