Last December Social Farming in the Apennines was closed: it is the first call for proposals launched by Grameen Italia Foundation to be inspired by the Social Farm Model.

At the end of February, three projects were announced to be the winners of the 30,000 euro grant each, and they all have been presented by individual companies, cooperatives and non-profit associations from the hills and mountains surrounding Bologna.

The projects propose a social business model capable of offering training and work to disadvantaged people, protecting the territory with organic farming, helping the development of social and economic networks who are already active in rural areas at risk of depopulation and abandonment.

As our Social Farm Model suggests, these social business initiatives have the potential to act in the market for the benefit of the territory, supporting with their activities the economic processes and welfare interventions already implemented by public authority and companies.

The call for projects has been launched precisely for this reason: to financially support agriculture with a social purpose, which is virtuous because it is capable of achieving the social-working inclusion of disadvantaged people and of actively contributing to the revitalization of the Bolognese Apennines economy.

The projects will start in April and May 2018, when the six-month pilot phase will start. Fondazione Grameen Italia will support projects with a support and monitoring programm.

The “Social farming in the Apennines” call was promoted within the framework of the European Social Challenges Innovation Platform with the support of Aster, collecting the project proposals of twelve national and international participants.

The winning projects

 Seeds 4 Social Change (S4S) project aims to strengthen the social and organic agriculture sector in the territory of Bologna and has been proposed by the agricultural social cooperative “Coltivare Fraternità”, in collaboration with the social cooperative “La Fraternità” and “Local To You “, an e-commerce company for the home delivery of products from social agriculture.

S4S plans to employ eight people who live with economic and social disadvantage, and to consolidate the network of local producers, expanding the volume of fruit and vegetables of the Local To You portal, aiming to reach 500 families by 2018.

The eight people will be involved for six months in the work of Coltivare Fraternità, which has 9 hectares of arable land. The employees will be trained and included in the sectors of organic agricultural production, packaging and distribution.

The project will take place in the territory of Mercatale in Ozzano dell’Emilia.

The project A Nursery for Social Farmers will be launched at Lizzano in Belvedere (BO) to train and employ two asylum seekers, promote their integration in the local community and support the activities of the local companies that represent the excellence in the production of medicinal plants.

To achieve this dual purpose, Francesco Penazzi, owner of the company that presented the project, aims to create and test a social business model based on the “learning by doing” method, to teach the techniques of organic mountain agriculture to the two people who will work for six months in the company.

The training project involves the assignment to each participant of 200m2 of land to be cultivated in complete autonomy – to test and verify what they learned – and a course of 50 hours of theoretical teaching – to deepen the characteristics of the Italian agricultural sector, learn the main objectives of the common European agricultural policy and understanding the risks and opportunities involved in running a small organic farm.

The two asylum seekers will also be supported in their training path by other producers of medicinal plants, members of the local community. In this way, it will be possible for them to observe the variety of cultivable species, the diversification of agricultural techniques based on the specific characteristics of each company and the sales strategies that allow the marketing of their products.

Terzaccoglienza project consists of a work and training residential internship program in agriculture for migrant people. The two-year project will be carried out at the organic Spunzola farm located in the hills of the municipality of Pianoro (Bo).

The project was conceived by the owner of Spunzola, Paolo Ruocco, and the group of volunteers of the Bolognese association “Il Cerchio: Dalla Libia a Via Libia”.

The agricultural activities that the six people will carry out together with the farmers concern forestry, sheep breeding for meat production and beekeeping. In addition, training sessions will be offered to teach the Italian language, the fundamentals of business management and the basics of Italian and European legislation on agriculture and labor law.

The six migrant people will live at Spunzola, having the opportunity not only to experiment in conducting various agricultural and extra-agricultural jobs but also to share the management of common areas and to participate in family activities.

With the enthusiastic response to the first call, Grameen Italia launches its second call for proposals From job seekers to job creators on the European Social Challenges Innovation Platform. A call addressed to companies and social organizations active in the social inclusion and work inclusion programs of the most disadvantaged populations.