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rainwater harvesting

Zach Weiss and Lorenzo Costa break down the design and process for restoring the water cycle of Tuscany


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It’s not often I get to do interviews in person, and it’s not often that I get a chance to go to Italy to visit amazing farms and take a course on regional scale landscape hydrological restoration either. In fact this was my first visit to Italy at all. All of these fortunate circumstances came together at the end of November, a couple weeks ago, thanks to the incredible efforts and coordination by my friend Ed Cutler, the director of the Tuscany Environment Foundation.

Early on Ed invited me to come and assist on a four day course that he was planning with Zach Weiss from Elemental Ecosystems and Lorenzo Costa from La Scoscesa farm, and since I’ve been in Zach’s Water Stories course since the beginning I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go out and get my hands dirty with a few of my heroes while working on one of my biggest topics of passion.
So today’s interview is taking place up on Lorenzo’s farm a day after the course wrapped up with incredible views of the mountain valleys and vineyards around as the three of us discuss some of the most important learnings of the week. 

In that session we covered a lot of ground. Much like in the course itself we zoom in and out throughout the discussion to explore the challenges and opportunities for water restoration work at a large scale and in smaller and more specific examples. Lorenzo gave us great information and context on the history of land use in the Tuscan area as well as his own farm. Zach explained a lot of bigger picture concepts about working with water and the solutions for degraded landscapes and mismanaged infrastructure.

We also refer regularly to the farm that hosted the course of the previous days, Tenuta di Paganico, which I highly recommend that you check out. I’ll put the link to their website and social media in the show notes. Despite the challenges that they have with soil erosion and old water retention features that are no longer functioning, they are doing amazing work with forest management and grazing animals in silvopasture systems among others. I also highly recommend stopping by their farm store and restaurant if you ever find yourself near the town of Paganico. 

I know this isn’t a super detailed introduction to the interview, but everything is very well spelled out from personal introductions through the progress of the learnings from the course so I’m not worried that you’ll fall behind.

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Links:

https://www.instagram.com/lorenzo.costa1/

https://www.instagram.com/lascoscesa/

https://www.elementalecosystems.com/

https://www.waterstories.com/

https://www.youtube.com/@Water_Stories

https://www.instagram.com/tenuta_di_paganico/

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