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Biodiversity? Did you say biodiversity?

We are looking at a shameful manipulation of reality. More and more architects and engineers are making the effort to create areas containing traces of eco-friendliness. Milan now has the vertical wood in the Porta Garibaldi area. Other buildings (banks, public and private offices, …) contain trees, plants, shrubbery. But what about soil? It appears to be no longer necessary: all one needs nowadays is substrata, to which add water and nutritional elements. Those in charge will monitor plant growth and their development. As a result, two questions may arise: 1. Why all this? And 2. How much will it cost? Answers to these questions evoke safeguarding biodiversity alias plant, insect and animal biodiversity protection and net improvement of air quality. Costs are high and afforded by … those that have money! We are not sure that those plants, especially those in a closed building, help in protecting biodiversity and clean air. In the end, it is clear that normal people without high revenues cannot afford it.

We would therefore like to tell you about an initiative, which is also a challenge in itself:

“Biodiversity: a way to cultivate it home, every day”.

Last October the Friends of Cuirone Cultural Association – a member of the SIP Forum – set up an exhibition in partnership with Slow Food Condotta (Varese) in the small hamlet of Cuirone di Vergiate (Varese) to bring people closer to what nature has to offer. The message is clear: we do not need to go very far, we are surrounded by land – or mother land as St Francis of Assisi used to say – which gives us the opportunity to discover the balances of nature. These balances are biological diversity awareness, which includes land, plants, animals, and insects, all of which work hard to create and support life on the planet.

Let’s take a look at an example of this type of discovering this diversity, happening very close to our homes: the earth, hedges, the plants – even types of weed – are home to vermin, insects, ants, spiders, butterflies, small and large animals, birds, in other words… life!

This is a ‘minor’ biodiversity, but that we should try and reproduce in other, even urban, areas, arouse curiosity and the pleasure of observing all things of the nature.

What proposed by Mario Mamone and Manuela Campagnani – who passionately “cultivate” biodiversity in their courtyard in Cuirone – can therefore be a preparatory tool, and the exhibition talks us through their work. During the guided tours – free-of-charge and which around 300 children and teens from the nearby schools have attended – it isn’t easy for Mario to explain (particularly to adults) that even tiresome little parasites are necessary. If they are in excess is due to a lack of balance, and that getting rid of them by using toxic products can lead to the destruction of other elements, which are on the other hand necessary. It is also difficult for him to explain that bats are not vampires and that the best way to keep mosquitoes away is to keep one under your roof… one alone can eat over 2000 mosquitoes in one night!

By all means, with patience and perseverance, biodiversity in our homes could improve and bring nice surprises: from insects living and reproducing in the ‘insect complex’ who then pollinate flowers aiding nature’s life cycle, to beautiful butterflies bringing colour to our days, to nestfuls of birds who had disappeared for a long time being born again.

No special effects, only honest answers and a few suggestions on ‘what you can do’ in your own garden, patch or your balcony.

During the tour, which ends at the old bakery in San Materno Street, Alberto Senaldi tells the story of how a little seed turns into bread, and why… not all types of bread have the same impact on health. He explains how some food intolerances come from the lack of quality flour used during the industrial processing… He explains how intensive and monocultural production lead to the abandonment and gradual disappearance of certain plant species, which are important to guarantee biodiversity and a healthy human diet… He explains many other things…

Food is such a wide topic that cannot be fully discussed in just a few lines. Let’s just think about potatoes – which count over 5000 species all over the world of which only 6 are produced in Italy – potentially a point of discussion on the importance of biodiversity and on what we can do, in terms of making ‘biodiverse’ choices.

To sum up:   biodiversity – soil – food.

The exhibition is held in Spazio Giorgio Ostini in via San Materno 9B and will be open to the public during spring season with free entry on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 1pm and from 3pm to 6pm. During week days, schools and local associations can book guided tours both for the exhibition and the old bakery (tel. 0039 331946645) and why not even for a delicious snack at the Vittoriosa Cooperative (0039 331946102).

To complete the guided tours – preferably on foot when accompanied by teachers or by “birota” when accompanied by parents – the association provides free documents in digital format for potential applications for academic purposes and to develop new ‘private’ or ‘group’ networks for local biodiversity.

The online pamphlet is free of charge and can be requested by contacting:

Miranda Baratelli Ostini: amicidicuirone@gmail.com

For further information: www.cuirone.net