Just over a month has passed since our first visit to Orto 133, a plot located in Strada Monte Piazzo, in the Vandorno area of Biella. On that occasion, we got to meet the people who animate the project, who told us about the peculiarities of the piece of land from which Orti del Biellese has taken shape, an initiative born in the wake of the projects Let Eat Grow and Terre AbbanDonate, and thanks to a loan from the Cassa di Risparmio di Biella Foundation. The plot where the fruit and vegetables for the home-delivered boxes are grown was in fact found through the project Terre AbbanDonate. The products are then delivered at no extra charge to the home/work address (within the province of Biella) of those who have joined the project.
Video credit: LASKA.
Behind the scenes is a ‘temporary purpose association’ made up of four local organisations: Let Eat Bi, Harambee, White Rabbit Event and the BiCiclo Social Cooperative. Each of these has a specific role: Let Eat Bi coordinates and manages the project Orti del Biellese, Harambee Aps runs the social gardens, White Rabbit Event Odv is in charge of the communication and Biciclo takes care of the distribution of the boxes. In this regard, fundamental was the call Im.patto by Nova Coop, which Orti del Biellese won as part of the project Sapori Biellesi and which subsidises the home delivery of the boxes.
As mentioned, in mid-May we went to the garden to document and promote the new project. Now, after just over a month, the initiative has developed in all its aspects: the impression is that the fruit and vegetable plants have grown in parallel with the project, certainly thanks to the skill and professionalism of those who are farming the plot. But we like to think that there is something more, that that green paradise has been thriving also thanks to the energy and passion of those who have been looking after it and the people of Biella who first believed in and supported the project.
Mauro Lombardi, president of Harambee Aps, one of the key figures in the project, has made an initial assessment: “The project is progressing very well, also thanks to all those who have bought the boxes and to the volunteers who are helping us in the fields. But we are only at the beginning: the busiest months are yet to come”. July and August will in fact offer a new selection of fruit and vegetables, always seasonal and natural: “In all likelihood we will be able to offer our baby watermelons, – he anticipated – which are growing really well. Soon the time will come for tomatoes (cherry, beef, datterini, costoluto, Roma) and basil: we have planted them together to create a synergy, because farming them in the same plot makes tomatoes taste unique”.
In light of the large crop expected for July and August, a period that often coincides with people’s holidays and trips, the organisers of the project will provide options for all members: if for any reason they are not in Biella, they will be able to suspend the subscription without losing their weekly box, which will simply be delivered at a later date; as an alternative, they can offer their weekly box – already paid for – to a family member or friend as a gift, by simply communicating their address.
With the view to develop it further, all those involved in the project Orti del Biellese are looking for additional people to work alongside Mauro Lombardi: “Anyone who wants to help out – explained the president of Harambee – is welcome. Here in the gardens there is no lack of moments of conviviality and socialisation, all while being immersed in greenery and quiet”. In this regard, among the ‘new entries’ in the project is Jenny Aguilar (first on the left in the cover photo): “During Nova Coop’s tasting on Saturday 19th June at Cascina Preziosa as part of ‘Sapori Biellesi’ – she revealed – I learnt about the project of the vegetable gardens and I was pleasantly surprised. So I subscribed to the service and decided to help out in the fields: not having my own garden, I felt the need to work with the land, see the plants grow and eat something that I could ‘produce’ and take care of myself”. Her words were echoed by Mauro Lombardi’s: “Those who help us or buy the boxes – he concluded – are not only getting healthy and natural fruit and vegetables, but are supporting a territorial project of social gardens”.