The cultivation of Leonforte Peaches began with the farmers who randomly and completely unplanned began to look after the small trees that grew spontaneously among the citrus groves in the area. The lateness and the taste of these small fruit attracted more and more the interest in the farmers until they began to plant trees in real specialised orchards. Unfortunately, with the increase in the number of trees, problems arose that plagued the precious fruit. They were attacked by the Mediterranean Fruit Fly.
This tested the patience of the farmers who saw their efforts vanish as soon as the peaches reached maturity. They came up with the idea of protecting each branch from this parasite with a large paper bag that allowed the passage of light and air without letting in the insects. This system, although it was effective in keeping insects away from the fruit, was inconvenient at harvest time due to the number of ripening peaches. The workers had to remove the bag, pick the mature peaches and put the bag on again to protect the unripe fruit. This practice was too costly from an organisational point of view and slowed harvesting operations.
The turning point came when the first farms began bagging the peaches individually with smaller paper bags. The bag also turned out to be a useful tool to protect the fruit from the weather. As the peaches ripen in the autumn they are exposed to the elements. Due to this particular technique of bagging and the lateness of the ripe fruit, the organic Leonforte Peach carved out an increasingly important sound slice of the regional market. With the growth of the yield, the production area expanded to neighbouring towns and the first producer cooperatives were founded.
In 1996, Dott. Giuseppe Trovati founded the Consortium for the Protection of Leonforte Peaches, with the aim of receiving the PGI, Protected Geographical Indication, Leonforte Peach.
In the new millennium, the Leonforte Peach has received several awards that have distinguished it as a characteristic Sicilian region product. Europe has recognized it as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) product. The Leonforte Peach is one of the 29 Sicilian Slow Food Presidium along with bread, olive oil and vegetables.
The Slow Food Presidium protects Italian products that are traditionally grown or reared over a long time in the production area. They have unique characteristics due to environmental and socio-economic links with a specific territory. They are produced in limited quantities according to traditional practices, by farms or small-scale processing of high organoleptic quality, but also qualitatively valid in the environmental and social sense.