GAL Carso – LAS Kras includes 12 municipalities and is an agency for the economic and social development of the territory between Karst and Istria. Founded in 2008, it has two main tasks: to help private individuals and companies by fostering interaction with institutions, and supporting them in planning and developing their future. At the beginning of the lockdown it couldn’t back out and close its doors to all the producers who were living through the crisis. David Pizziga, GAL Carso President, tells us how their e-commerce project was born, networking with consumers and producers, and helping both to cope with a unique moment in the history of mankind.
A city of sea and borders, Trieste is one of the most fascinating cities in Italy, a crossroads in the geographical sense but also culturally and historically. The area that overlooks the sea is multiethnic Mitteleuropa, where small-scale producers make extra virgin olive oils, cheeses, honeys, cured meats and especially wines.
“All of this, on March 10, 2020, had definitely taken a back seat,” says David Pizziga, President of the GAL. “From one moment to the other we found ourselves locked in our homes, not able to go to school or work, not able to see our friends and colleagues, forced to do sports from home, to study through a computer. We found ourselves unable to enjoy our city and the greenery that surrounds it! And of course we worried above all about the things we just can’t do without: our food. We found ourselves thinking over and over about the many aspects to it, from production to processing, from supply to consumption. And as GAL Carso, we couldn’t stand idly by. We asked ourselves what we could do, how we could organize to help local farmers.”
In this confused and fearful climate David Pizziga, Enrico Maria Milič, Aleš Pernarčič, Gregor Vizintin and Robi Jakomin, with outside help from Ures-Sdgz, Bunker Wine, TriestePrima.it – CityNews and Delex Digital Agency, rolled up their sleeves and decided to help local farmers.
“The spark that started our project,” says Pizziga, “was the distress being felt by a family of farmers and local breeders who were wondering how they’d pay their bills, buy fodder for their animals and pay their employees. And with everyone having to stay indoors, no one could stop by to buy their produce. So we decided to help local farmers by promoting free home delivery services for their food.”
“On March 13, 2020, just three days into the first lockdown, the GAL offered this service to all producers in need. Only a few of the local farmers had a structured commercial network to support sales. For most of our farmers, direct farm sales represented their main livelihood and the help of the GAL was therefore fundamental.”
“The response from farmers was extraordinary. On March 17, only a week into the lockdown, we started promoting home delivery of local food and wine! The response from local people was exceptional, above our most optimistic expectations, so much so that the family of local farmers and breeders, which I mentioned earlier, begged us to stop the promotion because they could not fulfill the dozens and dozens of orders they were receiving every day! A smile in a dark time! We worked seamlessly in the first weeks of the lockdown to the support of farms, to create a basket of genuine products and thus allow people locked in the house to do their weekly shopping, as well as to enjoy various local specialties being delivered to their homes!”
From the early stages of the project a website was born: Trieste.Green.
“We are happy with this experience through which we helped more than 20 farmers and local producers, and we hope that a pandemic will never hit us again. The good sailor, however, proves himself in the storm and, in this terrible, complicated time we, an agency that deals with the development of a rural area, thought it was the right thing to do. We didn’t hesitate for a moment, though we weren’t clear which path to take, but we certainly were clear about our goals! And with a hint of pride, we can say we did it!”
An example for many institutions to follow.
“It’s not difficult, but in our view there must be at least three fundamental conditions for such an initiative to be successful. First of all, having a group of people who are prepared and ready to accept the challenge. Then, understanding the timing: when the best moment is to start the project: our initiative proved to be strategic and effective for the farmers involved, because they were able to face the various restrictions in place at that time. Finally, the activities must go toward solve the everyday problems of the producers in an immediate and concrete way.”
An analysis of the initiative is available at this link.