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Agricultural value as a social driving force.
This is a must when working in the fields of Italy. For decades, cooperative companies have dedicated themselves to providing job opportunities for ex-offenders and for people with disabilities. But alongside this movement, through the years farming activity has also come to be seen as a stronghold of legality. Take, for example, Libera – an association founded by Don Ciotti which opened up new horizons with Libera Terra, using land confiscated from organised crime networks – from the Mafia to the N’drangheta – to lay the foundation for social farming enterprises. The key players in this restoration of legality through farming are young people from the south of Italy. Their example has been positively contagious, and now also in the north of Italy areas of land that had deteriorated (for example because of industrial pollution) have been restored for cultivation. This has generated an ethical economical system with farming as the cornerstone. From young people with Down ’s syndrome to ex-offenders, from people with mental disabilities to drug addicts, from women who have been victims of abuse to political refugees, the land has embraced all of them, opening up new horizons for them to build skills and professions. The Gorgona prison is a good example: it is the only prison in Europe where the detainees are free and where they cultivate the land of this wonderful island of the Tuscan Archipelago. It is important to note that these social and ethical farms are built on the principles of organic farming and sustainable development, creating a value-related context of “good land for a good life”. Private companies have since joined the system, contributing to society by employing and training disadvantaged people. All of this has increased the value of Italian farming, so much so that it has become an example for the whole of Europe. This is also due to the fact that the products of these companies oriented towards social issues, which range from livestock to beekeeping, grain farms to citrus groves, cattle sheds to dairy farms, often recovering forgotten cultivars and traditional production processes, are of an incredible high quality and are often sold directly or through alternative distribution channels that feed existing supply chains.