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Restoring the Dignity of Mafia Lands

Aug. 31, 2015
Ylenia Granitto

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August, for Italians, means one thing: vacaĀ­tions. The coast is crowded with tourists from all over the world who enjoy careĀ­free and relaxĀ­ing days on the beach from North to South. Nevertheless, the Libera Terra staff is busily at work until late in its offices in Sicily to manĀ­age the proĀ­ducĀ­tion and disĀ­triĀ­bĀ­uĀ­tion of Libera Terra prodĀ­ucts that, since 2008, conĀ­nect qualĀ­ity and an ethĀ­iĀ­cal comĀ­mitĀ­ment.

ā€œLibera (Freed). Associations, Names and Numbers Against Mafia Organizationsā€ is a netĀ­work that involves more than 1,600 regionĀ­ally-based assoĀ­ciĀ­aĀ­tions, groups, and schools comĀ­mitĀ­ted to conĀ­structĀ­ing politĀ­iĀ­cal-culĀ­tural synĀ­erĀ­gies and spreadĀ­ing a culĀ­ture of legalĀ­ity. It was creĀ­ated in 1995 by Father Luigi Ciotti with the purĀ­pose of supĀ­portĀ­ing civil sociĀ­ety in its fight against orgaĀ­nized crime.

In 2012 Libera was on the list preĀ­pared by ā€‹ā€œThe Global Journalā€ of the one hunĀ­dred best NGOsā€‰ā€”ā€‰the only Italian comĀ­muĀ­nity empowĀ­erĀ­ment orgaĀ­niĀ­zaĀ­tion and the first non-profit orgaĀ­niĀ­zaĀ­tion on the list.

This first project in 2008 gave birth to Libera Terra Mediterraneo (Free Mediterranean Land ), a non-profit conĀ­sorĀ­tium that involves social coopĀ­erĀ­aĀ­tives and other operĀ­aĀ­tors that share the prinĀ­ciĀ­ples of legalĀ­ity and equity. It manĀ­ages propĀ­erĀ­ties conĀ­fisĀ­cated from the mafia accordĀ­ing to the Law n. 109/96 on the use of real estate conĀ­fisĀ­cated from orgaĀ­nized crime.

Libera Terraā€™s goal is givĀ­ing digĀ­nity to terĀ­riĀ­toĀ­ries charĀ­acĀ­terĀ­ized by a strong mafia presĀ­ence, through the creĀ­ation of autonomous and self-susĀ­tainĀ­able coopĀ­erĀ­aĀ­tives, in order to proĀ­vide new jobs and creĀ­ate a posĀ­iĀ­tive and virĀ­tuĀ­ous ecoĀ­nomic sysĀ­tem based on legalĀ­ity and social jusĀ­tice.

Highly qualĀ­iĀ­fied proĀ­fesĀ­sionĀ­als from difĀ­ferĀ­ent backĀ­grounds work to proĀ­duce and sell qualĀ­ity goods, with a great price/value relaĀ­tionĀ­ship includĀ­ing wine, pasta, honey, sweet and savory preĀ­serves, Mozzarella di Bufala (bufĀ­falo mozĀ­zarella), and EVOO.

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Cooperatives can be visĀ­ited accordĀ­ing to the criĀ­teĀ­ria of responĀ­siĀ­ble tourism and they are accesĀ­siĀ­ble to hunĀ­dreds of peoĀ­ple each year through volĀ­unĀ­teer camps that offer enviĀ­ronĀ­menĀ­tal and farmĀ­ing eduĀ­caĀ­tion, in addiĀ­tion to an ethics trainĀ­ing based on joint responĀ­siĀ­bilĀ­ity, civic engageĀ­ment and comĀ­mitĀ­ment against corĀ­rupĀ­tion. This sumĀ­mer 52 such camps are workĀ­ing all over Italy.

Three difĀ­ferĀ­ent EVOOs are proĀ­duced and sold in the most presĀ­tiĀ­gious disĀ­triĀ­bĀ­uĀ­tion chanĀ­nels, both in Italy and in many forĀ­eign counĀ­tries.

In Sicily, Libera Terraā€™s farmĀ­ers superĀ­vise young olive groves comĀ­posed of Nocellara del Belice, Biancolilla and Nocellara Etnea alloĀ­cated between the province of Catania and the Province of Palermo, preĀ­cisely in the Alto Belice Corleonese area. They comĀ­bine these variĀ­eties with Cellina di NardĆ², Ogliarola Salentina and Leccino from Salento, to creĀ­ate the extra virĀ­gin olive oil Libera Terra.

A secĀ­uĀ­lar olive grove conĀ­sistĀ­ing of Ogliarola Salentina and Cellina di NardĆ² grown in the sandy and calĀ­careĀ­ous soil of Brindisi area is excluĀ­sively dedĀ­iĀ­cated to the proĀ­ducĀ­tion of ā€‹ā€œLibera Terra Secularā€ EVOO.

The flagĀ­ship prodĀ­uct is the DOP Valle del Belice Libera Terra which is dedĀ­iĀ­cated, accordĀ­ing to the Libera Terra webĀ­site, Barbara Rizzo, Giuseppe and Salvatore Asta, who were killed by a car bomb intended to assasĀ­siĀ­nate a judge. It is proĀ­duced with young plants of Nocellara del Belice from the tuffaĀ­ceous soil of Castelvetrano, Sicily.

The olive groves are all culĀ­tiĀ­vated under dry land conĀ­diĀ­tions and the farmĀ­ing sysĀ­tem is clearly organic, accordĀ­ing to the basic prinĀ­ciĀ­ples of the project.

This outĀ­standĀ­ing union of ethics and qualĀ­ity transĀ­mits the great mesĀ­sage that you can reach high qualĀ­ity through an equiĀ­table and fair approach. As if to say that the sucĀ­cess can be achieved if the resources and the methĀ­ods are fair and honĀ­est.

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