Ogigia Wood, communication starts from the land

Ogigia Wood, a project to communicate on matters relating to the environment, farming and sustainability, is the brainchild of two journalists, Francesca Della Giovampaola and Filippo Bellantoni. The starting point was their personal account of cultivating a small plot of land (see photo), on the principles of permaculture. The land is being used to develop a food forest, which is a form of mixed cultivation that imitates the woodland ecosystem, in which there grow trees, bushes, vegetables, and everything that is needed to satisfy human needs, not just for food. Communication about the project on environmental themes is carried out through social media, mainly through videos that reach a large audience, with the aim of increasing public awareness of protection of the natural world.

The project arose out of Francesca Della Giovampaola’s interest in permaculture, a system which originated 40 years ago in Australia with the aim of halting the degradation of natural ecosystems caused by human activity. The word is a blend of the two words “permanent agriculture”, but can also refer to “permanent culture”. In the early days, permaculture was focused above all on farming, whose modern methods were accused of causing irreparable harm to natural systems. Soon, however, the attention of permaculturists widened to include other aspects of people’s lives, from the places we live in to social relationships. At a time of acute environmental, social and economic crisis, the messagge of permaculture is a positive one: our planet can continue to sustain us, provided we stop putting so much effort into opposing nature and instead start working in harmony with it. The application of the  principles and ideas of permaculture offers concrete answers to many of the urgent questions posed by our age: from the prospect of fossil fuels running out to climate change, from the population explosion to poverty.

Francesca Della Giovampaola says: “I like writing about the natural world, farming, healthy food, and respect for the environment and I thought that to do it better I would have to get my hands dirty because theory needs practice just as practice needs theory. In 2015 I took the Italian Academy for Permaculture’s 72 hour course, and I have carried on learning by doing a Diploma in Permaculture Planning. Ogigia Wood is my outdoor lab, my escape, my larder, my gym, my library and above all a place that is close to my heart”.

The preservation or recovery of the soil’s fertility is at the heart of every permaculture project. In Ogigia Wood, before cultivating plants, they cultivate the soil.  On this plot of land, which is located in the province of Siena, they are trying out new and old methods for increasing the humus and the vitality of the soil. The skills gained on the land are useful for the work of communication. The website www.boscodiogigia.it deals with subjects of great interest today: how to produce high-quality food, protecting health, the energy crisis, climate change, pollution and so on. There is expertise, but also humour. Using videos, articles and other content, the site suggests ways of changing individual behaviour that can gradually be scaled up to achieve the much-hoped-for environmental sustainability. To support the project and follow the progress of Ogigia Wood you can follow them on Facebook, YouTube e Instagram, where they already have around 50,000 followers.

To contact Francesca Della Giovampaola and for further information: boscodiogigia@gmail.com

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Putting down roots in “Le Macere”

Our article in the last newsletter on soilless food production provoked some interesting reactions. However well we look after an uprooted plant – cutting it, pruning it, watering it – it will wither and die. So we have to start by planting or sowing it and allowing it to form roots in the soil. Only then will life flow through it. These simple reflections are equally valid for human beings, who not by chance are advised to stop moving from place to place and “put down roots” if they want the chance to build a harmonious future life for themselves.

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the hardest to put into practice. If we so desired, all of us could produce most of the food we need by growing it in pots on balconies or terraces or in gardens.  This is not a fanciful idea, indeed it is increasingly common in our crowded towns and cities. On the other hand, in the face of the multinational food companies whose monopolies impact all our lives, these small measures resemble the actions of a hummingbird that tries to put out a forest fire by carrying single drops of water to it.  Fortunately, the situation is not exactly like that. The food giants have feet of clay and can be brought down quickly. We only need to think of the many food scandals we have already experienced: mad cow disease, eggs contaminated with fibronil, blue mozzarella, wine contaminated with methanol, contaminated flour, bread and pasta, bird flu, contaminated yogurt and baby milk, extra virgin olive oil that isn’t, “Chinese” tomatoes: the list goes on and on. Continua a leggere “Putting down roots in “Le Macere””

Draft Law AC 63 !!!

We didn’t have to wait for the new government in Italy to be sworn in! As soon as the two chambers of Parliament took office, the Draft Law AC 63  of the Italian Chamber of Deputies was officially registered. Its title is “Measures to halt soil consumption and to reuse urbanized Soils”. The text is almost identical to that of the SIP Forum’s Draft Law published at the end of January!

When we spoke to representatives of the 5 Star Movement, as we did to other parties before the elections on 5 March 2018, they showed interest in and support for our proposal. And they followed this up as soon as the Italian Parliament started sitting by adopting the text and presenting it officially on 23 March as a Draft Law in the Chamber of Deputies, stressing that the 5 Star Movement “… is very pleased to accept the initiative of the voluntary sector by putting its name to the draft law put forward by Salviamo il paesaggio”. Then comes our text, with some minor changes that are completely in keeping with the spirit of the original text, bringing it to the immediate attention of all the political parties. Continua a leggere “Draft Law AC 63 !!!”

The importance of defending the land

Ours is not the only Forum that is engaged in matters of the land. The need to come together and to break down the ideological or psychological barriers that lead us to act “alone” has become an urgent necessity. This was the conclusion reached by a group of university researchers and interested individuals brought together in 2015 by the Fondazione Basso in Rome. A series of meetings led to the creation of the “Forum Diseguaglianze Diversità” (Forum on Inequality and Diversity or Forum DD). Officially active since October 2017, the forum held its inaugural conference in February 2018.

Why are we telling you about this?

For two reasons. The first is that we can and must work together (as stated in the proverb at the top of this newsletter); the second is that early research by the Forum has identified land use as one of the most important influences on inequality and poverty  Continua a leggere “The importance of defending the land”

Can we live on agriculture in small-scale spaces?

Filippo Dattola had worked in in IT in Bologna (Italy) for 10 years. He landed in Brussels nearly 8 years ago, where he developed an interest in soil, became a fan of urban agriculture and began to look for answers to the question: ‘Can we live on agriculture in small-scale spaces?’.

After some research he realised that the only possible way to answer to this question could be found by creating projects, examples that could speak more than thousands of words. Action was needed, an example of which is one of the greatest drivers of change. In 2012 he launched his first project via an association: a biological garden on the rooftop of the Belgian National Library, 50 metres above land and at the very heart of Brussels (see picture). Produce never made people wait too long: 500kg of vegetables in 500 bags, each with a depth of +/- 30 cm and full of earthworms. After only 2 years, he was able to make do without the public subsidies allocated to the project, and he was able to pay his volunteers with the direct sales of the vegetable production. This shows that soil can even be generous in “precarious” situations: where there is earth, there is life! Continua a leggere “Can we live on agriculture in small-scale spaces?”

A guide to social agriculture in the Lazio region (Italy)

The article on social agriculture in the previous newsletter caught some of our readers’ eye. We were forwarded a book published by the Lazio region, which contains important information on social agricultural communities in Lazio, starting with the famous Capodarco. The new version of the “Guide to Social Agriculture – Lazio” dates from 2015 and shows how much this practice has increased compared to 2011. Starting from 36 in the previous version, the current version presents a total of 96 established communities (not counting an extra 50 or so, who did not respond to the questionnaire). This shows that many young people have returned to agriculture. People who, perhaps due to the economic recession, make social agriculture into an occupation and at the same time are motivated to protect soil, land and values of a human and supportive society. Continua a leggere “A guide to social agriculture in the Lazio region (Italy)”

Mondeggi – turning the “soil, common good” concept into reality

Those of you who have read Marco Cappato’s recent book entitled “Credere, disobbedire, combattere” (Believe, disobey, fight) you will have seen examples which reflect the saying “obedience is no longer a virtue”[1]. Our current society, one steered towards profit, needs to develop courage to prove that “another world is possible”. Putting ideas that are seen as idealistic or visionary and aimed at preserving human dignity into practice, is the real challenge we must face, and that future generations must solve.

“Soil, a common good” is one of these concepts: it is abstract on the outside, however it sums up its crucial impact on our lives. It indicates how a sustainable use of soil is a matter of urgency. If we want a society, which can be economically viable in the short run and sustainable in the long run, biophysical and socio-economic factors must inevitably go hand in hand. Human beings have full responsibility for this approach, as future soil degradation as well as its protection both depend on it. Continua a leggere “Mondeggi – turning the “soil, common good” concept into reality”

Soil is Life! – World Soil Day in Brussels

Soil has always been regarded as a specialists’ matter. Its “World Day” sees a series of initiatives in which only those who “work in the area” tend to participate.

The SIP Forum together through its Soil Europe Group opted for a different approach this year. They presented soil to those who do not know anything about it, by using simple language and clear means of communication.

Thanks to the availability and support of the Italian Institute of Culture (IIC) in Brussels, an event based on storytelling, videos, music and experiences took place. Professional and amateur actors, researchers, volunteers: a group of over 10 people took the floor of the IIC theatre. Spectators were encouraged to take part in the performances. The idea was to communicate via discussion and laughter, by exploring possible solutions and not constantly sharing catastrophic numbers on the soil’s condition. The event was therefore divided in two main parts: describing problems related to soil; and considering possible solutions and practical examples, some of which exist already and are not very well-known. This latter part was led by a series of youngsters who practice highly sustainable agriculture.

Further details: https://goo.gl/kfNsF4

Event Videos: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC1LOG1_txKvqwqSc05LxG8T5VQvDztib