da new life in the Apennines, imagining a model of sustainable and non-predatory development that respects nature, stops depopulation, creates a new idea of community that acts as a driving force for the territory and reactivates abandoned activities. A goal that is not impossible to achieve if the protagonists are young people, with their innovative ideas, enthusiasm and energy. And if the young people are women, then these projects have something extra, because they reflect the feminine gaze «generous and generative», as Francesca Campora, general manager of Edoardo Garrone Foundation which gave birth to ReStartApp.
Since 2014, the Foundation has organized 12 editions of ReStartApp, open to 150 selected mountain entrepreneurs under 40From these free summer residential campuses, 54 companies have so far been born in various Apennine regions, of which 26 are run by girls. “We started thinking that the ecological transition is not just decarbonization, but enhancement and protection of the ecosystem,” explains Campora. «Our Apennines, full of resources, are the ideal place to experiment with ways to enhance them. We wanted to make a contribution». Among the winners of past editions there are girls like Chiara Spigarelli who founded in Friuli Agrivello, a start-up that recovers wool – coming from local farms – and transforms it into pellets without additives. A success of the system, which was also born thanks to the collaboration with the University of Udine and some local consortia. Or guys like Riccardo Arletti, founder of Typesan Emilian company that builds glamping tents using textile waste and collaborates with small accommodation facilities, from Piedmont to the Marches.
The ReStartApp 2022 edition was particular, because it closed with a exclusively female podium. The fourth ranked company, which was awarded an annual consultancy, is also led by a girl. “We believe that while in more controlled areas, such as digital companies, gender stereotypes tend to reproduce themselves, where instead we start from scratch, and everything has to be redone, it is possible that there will be reversals” says Campora. «The wide gaze, capable of holding together different aspects of reality, is a typically feminine quality. What works in other areas – being focused and hyper-specialised – has no reason to exist here. The opposite wins.”
Women and work: female employment numbers are improving
Entries for the 2023 editionwhich will be held in Sassello (SV) are open until 12 May. We met the four winners of 2022. They told us about their ambitions. Very concrete.
«Working in the pastures gives me so much freedom»
Elisa Pisotti 22 years old, Barchi di Ottone (Pc), 2nd prize of 20 thousand euros for the artisan dairy of the princes
«I was the last producer of a historic cheese, Mulan-na. It’s me, alone. In the family business in Val Trebbia we have about a hundred cows, of which, however, only four are used for milking, and about twenty goats. We currently produce a few wheels a day, for the family. But I would like to expand, open a dairy with a regulated production, with our company brand in order to obtain, in 10 years, the qualification of Slow Food presidium. I would take care of cow cheeses – but I should have more garments – my sister of goat ones. I am young but I have clear ideas about my life goals. I’ve been a singer and a pastry chef, but they’re not jobs for me. When I graduated in Agriculture, I had actually already chosen, even if I wasn’t quite sure yet. After high school I went to Piedmont to specialize in dairy techniques, it was a huge training opportunity. That was the turning point, I realized that I would never go back.
Working with animals is very demanding, there are no days off, there is no tiredness that stops you, and you are tied to milking times. The closest village has 25 inhabitants; a number that is even growing, because there have been new arrivals after Covid. Loneliness? In the Apennines you learn to deal with it since you were born, and then you don’t notice it anymore. There is nothing in the world that gives me the same sense of freedom as being in the pastures and working on the family farm. And if I want to go to the disco in the evening, I finish taking care of the animals and go, no one prevents me ».
«With ReStartApp, a glamping thinking of my grandfather»
Serena Cerullo 34 years old, S. Angelo a Scala (Av), 3rd prize of 10 thousand euros for Parthenium Glamping
«Together with my partner, I bought an olive grove that had been abandoned for 30 years, and we are starting to fix it. I would like to give it a new life by creating a glamping (from the fusion of glamor and camping, ed) that would be completely innovative in Irpinia, where the few existing structures are traditional. We are in a fortunate position: at an altitude of 550 metres, on the slopes of the Parthenio regional park, 13 km from Avellino and half an hour’s drive from Salerno. We are surrounded by woods and vineyards, because three DOCGs are produced in my area: Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo and red Taurasi. Quality wines, which should be better known and valued. In my glamping I would start with 4 barrel-shaped wooden houses, for 8 beds. A particular hospitality proposal, which I chose for the strong bond with the family: my grandfather was a cooper, I still remember the scent of the boards when he worked them.
I’d like to offer a quality itinerary in the area, with events and visits to cellars. There will be a small spa with a wood-fired hot water tub like the sauna. My guests will have a complete experience. Thanks to the ReStartApp award I can start taking my first steps. I’m starting from scratch but I would like to participate in the call for young entrepreneurs from the South of Invitalia, I need funds. I hope in a couple of months to be well advanced on this front».
«My cosmetic products from the fields»
Iolanda Bernardo 26 years old, Benevento, 1st prize of 30 thousand euros for Terre di Janara
«I’m a pharmacist, and in my parents’ pharmacy I started making product prototypes some time ago following the recipes of my grandmother Anna, who did the same job. It’s about solid cosmetics, a shampoo, a conditioner, a facial cleanser, created using raw materials from the agricultural supply chain of the area: extra virgin olive oil, grape seed oil, annurca apple extract. They are solid because I have decided to limit the use of water to a minimum, which today is precious and should not be wasted. The idea is mine, but luckily I was able to count on the support of my parents, my partner and my sister, who takes care of the administrative part. I called the line Janara from the name of a witch from Benevento who, according to local legend, created magical potions, while the shampoo and conditioner have mythological names, such as Panacea and Hebe. There is nothing similar in the Campania hinterland as far as the sector is concerned, only traditional products.
From my parents’ pharmacy, where I made my first experiments, I moved on to an agri-cosmetic laboratory which, thanks to the ReStartApp award, I will be able to expand to finally move on to marketing, strictly maintaining the controlled supply chain of the territory. I think I’ll need a year or so.”
“The dream? Thanks to ReStartApp, a kindergarten in the woods»
Leonarda Luciani 28 years old, Capistrello (L’Aquila), special mention with 12 months post-campus consultancy for Casale Tascone
«My grandfather Leonardo was a shepherd, and today my father alone continues to raise sheep and goats, he has 350. I left the farm to go and study at the University of Bologna, where I graduated in Educational Anthropology. I never thought I’d come back. Instead, when with Covid I found myself alone in a city that didn’t belong to me, I began to reflect on my goals. I finished my studies, worked in a kindergarten in the woods, then made my way home. My father is a farmer, my mother takes care of the dairy, we have a sales outlet on the farm. However, in addition to expanding the business, I would like to diversify it.
First of all, I would like to renovate my grandfather’s barn and make it a classroom for children and a multifunctional and technological space for coworking. Indeed, I would like to be able to offer a complete package to families, with hospitality, the possibility for parents to work remotely, and for children to attend kindergarten in the woods. One of my sisters, who is an interior designer, will take care of the renovation, while the other will be responsible for marketing our products. We are at 750 meters, in a mountain landscape but close to L’Aquila, Avezzano, Sulmona. The whole family is involved in the project and I really hope to live up to my parentswho made so many sacrifices for me and my sisters”.
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