Young farmers and dedicated courses
It is no longer unusual that in Italy there is a host of young farmers who have decided to pursue the dream of working the soil, investing resources and ideas in projects that are slowly renewing their approach to the trade, in the name of innovation paired with environmental and economic sustainability. Even in a tragic year like 2020, the data shows to be positive, with a 14% increase in young agricultural entrepreneurs under the age of 35. Increasingly attracted by country-living to the detriment of other productive activities, there are over 55,000 young people at the helm of companies and farms, a number that puts Italy as the leading European country in agricultural projects conducted by young people. And if interest in the farming profession is growing so much, merit also goes to foundations, associations and institutes committed to bringing value to the sector. The Edmund Mach Foundation of San Michele all’Adige Agricultural Institute, for example, is dedicated to scientific research, education, experimentation, consultancy and service for companies in the agri-food sector.
Silvia Anselmi and the mobile chicken coop
Silvia Anselmi, food science and technology graduate at the University of Parma, is one of the many students who have chosen to specialise through the Foundation’s two-year program: a 600-hour study course open to people under 40, who will eventually obtain a farming entrepreneur license. She manages the family farm in Val di Sole, complete with a zootechnical-fruit farm with an ever-widening offer thanks to her research work. The vegetables are all grown organically and now there is also a chicken coop that was tailor-made for animal welfare. It’s in fact a particular chicken coop built on wheels, which moves to allow the hens to always have fresh grass to eat: so even the eggs are tastier, and above all healthier. Something already done by Joel Salatin at Polyface Farm in Virginia, with the “Eggmobile”. “After the positive results of last year,” the twenty-six year old told Giornale Trentino, “now I want to continue with vegetables and expand the business with the greenhouse.” Her younger brother, who is attending the second year at EMF, will soon join her lending his support.
A not so unusual choice, considering the role that agriculture plays today, but still brave and in this case also original: the mobile chicken coop is an innovative, reasoned idea, the result of study and research. Her passion for nature moved Silvia, but also the distance from her land due to her studies, “which made me rediscover the paradise of my valley and the beauty of agriculture.” She returned home just over a year ago, and she started working in the company, for which she has many projects in store. Surely, priorities such as attention to the environment and the territory will always be high, sustainability is one of the key points of her philosophy, but the goal is also to make the inhabitants rediscover “our agricultural roots.”
The farm eggs
Meanwhile, she devotes herself to vegetables and chickens, which scratch around outdoors without the presence of a rooster, free, so as to have fun hunting protein-rich insects and at the same time keep the soil clean, as Silvia explains on the company’s Facebook page. Eggs can be purchased locally, but they also arrive directly at home thanks to a delivery service that, again, pays great attention to sustainability: packaging is plastic but consumers are invited to reuse it over and over again, paying only a small deposit of 2 Euros on the first purchase. The number also varies: not the classic carton of 6 eggs, but rather 8 per pack, at a price of 3.50 euros.
by Michela Becchi