JOURNALIST AND ENTREPENEUR
"I think farmers are actors who play on a stage of unequaled beauty, their land. They know where they come from and they always know where to return. "
In your opinion, what is the relationship between agriculture, culture and creativity?
I think farmers are actors who play on a stage of unequaled beauty, their land. They know where they come from and they always know where to return. They have a deep respect for this stage, they care for it and stand in awe of it, and, above all, they feel a deep love for it. On this stage they perform creative acts which give the landscape new shape. What is more creative than generating and regenerating plant and animal life? Producing healthy and authentic food is a really creative act, which requires a "toolbox" full of knowledge, skills and experience in the field. In other words: culture.
What is, for you, social and cultural innovation in agriculture?
I think social and cultural innovation is the transfer of this love for nature to anyone willing to listen. It is inventing new ways of practising traditional crafts with a watchful eye on technical and scientific achievements, new requirements on hygiene and food safety, and new demands in terms of transparency and authenticity of what you put in your shopping trolley.
How do you experience the dialogue between the rural world and creativity during the Festival of white beans and red aubergines of Rotonda?
In mid-August, Basilicata celebrates the beginning of the harvest of two PDO horticultural products of the Valle del Mercure, in the heart of the Pollino National Park. A real and true, welcome feast that the farmer members of the two Producers Associations offer to old and new friends. They start organising its program well in advance in order to add, from year to year, new ingredients to the now well tested recipe of the White & the Red festival. Three days in the company of musicians, writers, film directors, editors, botanists, tourist and environmental guides, sportsmen and women, photographers, chefs, journalists, delegates of institutions, entrepreneurs in the fields of agribusiness, renewable energy, retail trade, catering and lodging. A real graft of talented, generous and curious people who become great and valuable ambassadors for POLLINO, a territory made up of beautiful humanity, culinary delights and breathtaking nature.
As an agricultural entrepreneur, you implement and support many cultural and social initiatives. Could you tell us about some of them?
I especially love GiocaGiulietta: more fresh milk, more books. It is a collection of caps of milk and yogurt “Fattorie Donna Giulia” that magically turns into lots of picture books for children aged three to ten. Every school year, the first thirty schools to complete the GiocaGiulietta collection, apart from receiving the 36 volumes up for grabs, can also choose a big additional prize: an educational visit to our oasis of milk in the Vulture area, a meeting with great authors and illustrators, or a workshop on the creative reuse of caps and other packaging. This initiative was devised by the publisher Lavieri, the cultural associations “La Luna al Guinzaglio” of Potenza and “Il Marsupio” of Matera, the lithography studio “Litostampa Liantonio” and “ProgettoArte - hand-crafted tuff”. Learning how to choose short-chain, local products from the shelves, spreading the love of reading and illustration, explaining that through imagination even an object that, at best, ends up in the plastic recycling, can become an opportunity for fun. That is all we need for feeding the mind of joyful and lively children.
Furthermore, recently we have been happy to support the campaign PRONTO ALZHEIMER, organised by the Alzheimer Association of Basilicata, by using milk bottles from “Donna Julia” as a vehicle to introduce into the houses of our clients, a precious freephone number, allowing the families facing this disease to feel less lonely. The bottle label is a sticker which revives vivid memories: "In the past, we used to play with little, but all together", "At that time, we cooked what we had in the home, now everything has to be made classy" or even "We used to play war with stones and slingshots ". In this way, we wanted to thank, and make ourselves useful to, associations which actively work in the social and health fields and are pioneers in our region. A food company can also do that.
A recipe, a place, an opportunity from the rural world
Don Mimì's lamb with thistles, the Easter dish of Saraceno's house, has the flavour of friendship and affection. The lamb is an extremely appreciated gift from some lamb breeder friends. Easter day begins with a rich breakfast of boiled eggs and brawn, and then we all go together to the torrent of Atella to collect wild thistles. And awaiting the homecoming, there, in the kitchen with a large hob is Don Mimì, my dad, who does not want an assistant. Everything says “rural”. The farmhouse is surrounded by dairy cows and framed by Mount Vulture and the Castle of Lagopesole, my dad's special recipe; the ingredients, even the centerpieces and placeholders are made with branches, leaves and flowers from the surrounding woods, even the lampshade of the ecumenical table: an old plough.