Slow Food Stands Alongside Emilia-Romagna’s Flood-Hit Communities

23 May 2023

You too can help our struggling producers by donating to this dedicated fundraising account

We are once again witnessing the tragic consequences of climate breakdown and atrocious land management. Six months’ worth of rainfall in 36 hours, the insufficient maintenance of waterways and excessive soil consumption are some of the key factors that have led to floods in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna over the course of the last week, causing at least 14 deaths and leaving thousands homeless.

Once again, we look on in dismay at yet another natural, social, human and economic disaster. 

Flooding in the Emiglia-Romagna region of Italy submerges agricultural land and Slow Food Presidia

Flooding in the Emiglia-Romagna region of Italy submerges agricultural land and Slow Food Presidia

“We have started contacting producers from the Slow Food network in Emilia-Romagna who have been overwhelmed by the floods — Presidia, Communities, cooks and winegrowers  — to check on how they are doing,” said Barbara Nappini, the president of Slow Food Italia.

“The news that has arrived has been dramatic: landslides, rivers overflowing, flooded fields and destruction. Many producers can’t even reach their farms because the roads are still impassable. We still haven’t managed to contact everyone, but we want to express our sadness and, most of all, our solidarity. We are ready to help out in any way we can, either in person for those who are nearby or through a donation for those who are further away.” 

Slow Food Italia has launched a fundraising appeal for the Emilia-Romagna emergency. You can donate to its dedicated account using the following details:

Beneficiary: Slow Food Italia

IBAN: IT 73 B 03268 46040 0529044 02311

BIC: Selbit2bxxx

Banking Provider: Banca Sella

We will share more of the first-hand accounts over the next few days.

In the meantime, here are two from the Slow Food Presidia for artisanal Cervia sea salt and Vignola moretta cherries. 

Freshwater and mud swamp Cervia’s saltworks

South of the Po Delta Park, the salt pans of the Slow Food Cervia Artisanal Sea Salt Presidium have been flooded with freshwater and lie submerged beneath the overflow of nearby rivers. “Among these, in particular, is one that was still harvested by hand: the Camillone saltworks, which is now completely covered with mud,” Oscar Turroni, the Presidium producers’ coordinator, tells us. “We don’t know when we’ll be able to clean the salt basin, and we don’t yet understand whether, beyond this year, next year’s harvest will be compromised too.”

Cervia Salt, which has been a Slow Food Presidium since 2004

A Slow Food Presidium since 2004, the saltworks of Cervia Artisanal Sea Salt now lie submerged. Photo Credit: GaBer

This is the first time Cervia’s saltworks have been submerged underwater. But the damage done to salt production is just part of the bigger picture. The flooding has also invaded a natural environment of around 800 hectares which has long been a living and nesting habitat for many animal species and is recognized as a wetland of international importance.  

We can no longer spin the narrative that climate change is an external phenomenon, unrelated to human intervention. We can no longer pretend that disaster will strike sometime in the future: perhaps in 2030 or 2050. And we can no longer lament its effects without taking private and public responsibility for radically and significantly addressing its causes.  

Deluge damages the Vignola cherries

The rain is still falling incessantly on the hills around the city of Modena when we talk to Gino Quartieri, the leader of the Slow Food Vignola e Valle del Panaro Convivium. “The flooding is mostly in the lower areas of the province of Modena, but the production of the Slow Food Vignola Moretta Cherry Presidium has been greatly affected.” He explains that after days of constant rainfall, the trees are suffocating, their roots are rotting and the fruit has absorbed a huge amount of water, meaning they risk splitting open when the sun comes out. The harvest, which in any case is restricted to a month, will be further limited. 

Harvesting of Moretta Cherries in previous years at the Slow Food Presidium

Harvesting of Moretta Cherries in previous years at the Slow Food Presidium

“Our message to the Slow Food network? Don’t stop coming to Vignola. Even if there are fewer cherries, the best way to help is not to forget about us, but to keep buying moretta cherries from the Presidium producers. Every year our fruit attracts many fans and tourists. When the emergency passes, we’ll be here to welcome you.” 

Just like Gino and the Vignola moretta cherry growers, we know that our Slow Food Communities and Convivia will not stop their vital work, driven by the hope and conviction that together we can construct a better future.

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