Ten stories of circular agroecology: renewables, zero km and no pesticides

In Italy, albeit decreasing, CO emissions2 related to the world of agriculture are still around 9%. However, this sector has a number of critical issues, from the use of pesticides to antibiotic resistance in farms, which without revisions risk jeopardizing the country’s natural resources and biodiversity for a long time. And yet, from the potential of agrovoltaics (to obtain clean energy and cultivate crops), to the rediscovery of organic farming and zero kilometer farming, much can still be done to direct this sector onto a more sustainable path.

To the National Forum of Circular Agroecology from Legambiente, which has just ended, we talked about this: organic at the center, made in Italy supply chains, environmental, energy and social transition of the agricultural model. Which means “insisting on agrivoltaics, a 62% reduction in the use of synthetic chemistry, a national strategic plan for the CAP in line with EU strategies, the adoption of a new NAP and the approval of the law against agromafias” the association explains, indicating the objectives crucial.

In addition to the requests addressed to the government for a necessary change of course, it is however good to both encourage and take an example from the positive realities that already exist, those that Legambiente defines as the visions of “Ambassadors of Agroecology”, stories of administrations and rural realities to be taken as models of good practices. At the end of the forum, 10 particularly virtuous companies were awarded. Here are their stories.

Claudia Antonucci – Orsogna Cooperative – Orsogna (CH)

This cooperative in the province of Chieti, which brings together companies dedicated to sustainable production and certified organic, has made the protection of the territory and health its principles: since 1995, when there were about ninety members, today it has even reached 400 members. While the number of aggregate realities grows, so does the need for new projects linked, for example, to social issues: “Today, the cooperative is also alongside women through the project “Eva – empowerment towards the autonomy of women with experiences of gender-based violence ” with interventions and concrete actions for job placement, at the end of an internship period, which has proved to be a wonderful opportunity for rebirth” says Legambiente as he awards the prize to the Orsogna Cooperative.

Valentina Avvantaggiato, mayor of Melpignano (LE), with the president of Legambiente Stefano Ciafani

Valentina Avvantaggiato, mayor of Melpignano (LE), with the president of Legambiente Stefano Ciafani

Valentina Avvantaggiato – Mayor of Melpignano (LE)

If there is a laboratory place of the future in southern Italy, this is it for sure Melpignano: in the town of the Notte della Taranta, good practices are carried out that pass through the energy community, diffusion of water in glass and urban redevelopment projects that are attentive to social and environmental issues. To the mayor Valentina Advantage, which promotes “the policy of care”, and aims at a “circular and inclusive economy, capable of stimulating the micro-entrepreneurial fabric, of relaunching food and wine riches, of promoting slow and seasonally adjusted forms of tourism” was awarded a dedicated award to all of Melpignano. In particular, applause goes to the commitment to ban the use of plant protection products in urban areas and to the “Ethical Canteen at Km0”, a “guarantee for small fellow citizens and an incentive for organic production for young farmers”.

Silvia Chirico – Chirico Estate – Ascea (SA)

Even in the heart of the territory that is the promoter and defender of the Mediterranean Diet, Cilento, we are working for a healthier future. For instance Silvia Chirico in its Chirico estate – family business immersed in the hills of Ascea – for 30 years it has raised cows, goats and buffaloes whose products are skilfully transformed into buffalo milk mozzarella, cow cheese, smoked provola, yogurt and buffalo milk ice cream always with respect of the most authentic traditions. Also in this case the focus is on a short supply chain and circular economy, also looking at energy and emissions: the company has in fact paved the way for the production of energy from renewable sources with the first Cilento biogas made in 2013.

Rita De Padova – President of the Siniscalco Ceci Emmaus Foundation – Foggia

From the recovery of ancient grains to the commitment to raise funds to be allocated to the world of minors in difficulty and to hospitality, the Siniscalco Ceci Emmaus Foundation di Foggia aims to combine “respect for social values” with “paths of organic farming” developed in 500 hectares that extend between Foggia, Nocera and Manfredonia and which have been enriched over time also thanks to the synergy between local farmers. The Foundation, with the award given to Rita De Padova, was rewarded precisely for its determination in respecting its values.

Loredana Lucentini – Az. Agr. Under the Poggio – Orbetello (GR)

Defenders of a product increasingly in difficulty amidst the climate crisis and loss of biodiversity, the honey that bees produce today in smaller volumes, are Loredana Lucentini and her husband John. In 2013 Loredana, after having lived in Piedmont, returned home to her Maremma to take care of the family farm between Capalbio and Orbetello. Here, with the utmost attention to the environment, the couple is carrying out a project – which is already a model of good practice – based on bees and the valorisation of honey within an aware and responsible supply chain.

Fulvia Mantovani – Organic Iris Cooperative – Calvatone (CR)

Inside the Oglio Sud Natural Park there is a cooperative that has a precise mantra in mind: only organic and healthy. There Iris agricultural cooperative it carries out an “exclusively organic production since its foundation and is located in an oasis rich in biodiversity” specifies Legambiente. In this company hedges and rows of trees have been planted to surround the cultivated fields, and the irrigation ditches have been naturalized to allow insects and amphibians to reproduce. Furthermore, “organic pasta is produced from the cultivated wheat, the waste of which, combined with the company’s corn and barley as well as the waste from vegetable processing, is used to feed the pigs reared in the wild”. A fine example of agriculture and circular economy and enhancement of the territory.

Anna Nardi – Perlage Winery – Farra di Soligo (TV)

Between the increasing demand for wine and an increasingly popular product in the world, those who decide to produce organically in an area suited to prosecco production then it can be said that it is truly “in constant search of positive economic models, based on innovation”. This is the case with Anna Nardi than with his company Perlage it prepares for the future also thanks to technology: the use of innovative sensors and meteorological stations equipped with webcams for the detection of increasingly specific field indicators are the basis of its vision. The goal – explains Legambiente who awarded the company – “is the prevention of adversities in agriculture, which today is increasingly difficult to manage also due to climate change. From organic grapes we also obtain vegan and sulphite-free wines to meet the needs of a heterogeneous public increasingly attentive to their own health and that of the environment”.

Serena Peveri – Az. Agr. Ciaolatte – Borghetto, Noceto (Pr)

Wedged perfectly in the Po Valley and in the lands of milk, cheese and cured meats, the company Ciaolatte-Borghetto from Noceto in the province of Parma is an example of “sacrifices and great satisfactions”. Serena Peveri she is the administrative and commercial manager of a company considered today “a flagship of national organic animal husbandry; certified organic since 1998, committed to guaranteeing the entire production chain, from the farm to the table” explained by Legambiente. Here the focus is on organic production, animal welfare and the transformation of the milk that takes place inside the owned dairy.

Edoardo Prestanti, mayor of Carmignano (PO)

Edoardo Prestanti, mayor of Carmignano (PO)

Edoardo Prestanti – Mayor of Carmignano (PO)

In Prato province there is a mayor who does not stop and continues to experiment with courage: stop glyphosate for the defense of the environment at the municipal level, Pact for local sustainable development to create a bio-district, multifunctional management of the territory, recovery of the countryside , enhancement of sustainable tourism. Bases on which Edward Prestanti, mayor of Carmignano, chosen among this year’s “ambassadors of agroecology”, has set up his mandate. The aim is “to open up to the future without forgetting one’s origins, to redevelop the existing to thus seize new development opportunities”.

Franco Vita – Mayor of Nepi (VT)

Also to Nepian area of ​​hazelnut groves that upset territories and the environment in the name of industry and commerce, there are those like the mayor Franco Vita chose to change: stop glyphosate, a stop to neonicotinoids, integrated agriculture and the birth of the bio-district through an act undertaken with the aim of maintaining biodiversity in the countryside, as well as policies to reduce land pollution and above all safeguard the health of citizens. For Legambiente, mayor Vita “understood that his territory was enduring a situation of strong pressure caused by agriculture aimed at maximizing yields rather than making production more efficient and he acted firmly with a change of course”. And for that he was rewarded.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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