Germinale is a cooperative for community agriculture in Valle Stura, Italy. Community agriculture is small-scale agriculture that is strongly integrated into the local community and based on local natural resources. This project is open to all people interested in agricultural production, with special attention paid to those in situations of marginalisation and vulnerability.
Issue/challenge and goal/assumption
Valle Stura is one of the Alpine valleys of the Province of Cuneo, Italy. Characterised by high levels of depopulation, this area is facing an increase of agricultural land being left uncultivated as well as a weakening of social and community ties. In addition, the opening of a reception centre for asylum seekers in a nearby town has led to feelings of confusion and suspicion arising in the local population.
Germinale is based on the conviction that agricultural activity and preservation of the environment must be pillars of the community. Through these principles, the project aims to strengthen social ties and valorise local agricultural and environmental resources.
How does it work
Started in May 2018, Germinale is the final step of an initiative that began in October 2015 when the Association Insieme… Diamoci una mano received 5,000 square meters of mountain land plots from the Municipality of Demonte. In making this land productive again, the project aims to valorise local agricultural knowledge and to exchange these practices and experiences with asylum seekers, allowing them to be part of and to help build social and economic networks in the community.
The project began with five locals and four young asylum seekers. The asylum seekers came from Central African countries, and they were hosted in the reception centre (CAS) of the nearby town of Festiona. Together they worked to develop the land into a productive agricultural venture, paying respect to the local environment.
Germinale employs an alternative model of agriculture and food distribution called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Under the CSA model, members of the community support the farm and, in return, receive regular deliveries of the farm’s products based on what is being harvested at that time.
The project has transformed the previously unused land plots into a social vegetable garden that produces potatoes, corn, wheat, buckwheat, vegetables and herbs, involving asylum seekers in the recovery of abandoned land and allowing them to develop knowledge of the agricultural practices of the region. The association has developed a local purchasing group and tries to involve public institutions and NGOs. The project also collaborates with the Nuto Revelli Foundation of Cuneo, promoter of the Mountain Farming School.
Solidarity, exchange and mutual assistance are core principles of this project. Buyers of the agricultural products are involved in the project’s activities and play a role in the development of the local community. The project teaches customers about the value of agricultural production and of its difficulty in mountainous areas.
By allowing longtime residents in the area to see the work that the project and its migrant participants have been doing in the fields, at markets and through public gatherings, the project has created opportunities for the local population to get to know asylum seekers, see their commitment and abilities and their desire to work and be part of the community. This contributes to the easing of doubts and suspicions that residents may have towards the newcomers.
Thanks to their participation in Germinale, 3 of the 4 asylum seeker participants were able to provide evidence of their integration and therefore received residence permits on humanitarian grounds, with the fourth application pending. Moreover, all four of them have completed internships with small farms in the area.
The Association Insieme… Diamoci una mano has been awarded the 2016 Green Flag of the Caravan of the Alps initiative of the NGO Legambiente. The project Germinale is a winner of the Alpine Pluralism Award 2018, an initiative of the PlurAlps programme to develop and promote a welcoming culture and improve knowledge and awareness regarding the integration of migrants in Alpine areas.
Who will benefit?
This project is open to all people interested in agricultural production, including those who have uncultivated land they would like to put into production, with special focus on people in situations of marginalisation or vulnerability.
Source of funding and Resources used
In the beginning, the Association Insieme… Diamoci una mano provided € 5000 in equipment.
The project provided self-financing from two activities—the sale of agricultural products and money received for care of Parco Borelli, a castle and grounds in Demonte.
In June 2018, the project launched a crowdfunding campaign. Thanks to the resources collected, the project has been able to increase the amount of lands and chestnut forests they rent.
- Germinale Cooperativa Agricola di Comunità
- Giulia Jannelli