In a world where small realities, slow but intense development, good company and the pleasure to collaborate together sound like something that cannot achieve an optimal level of gain or success, the simple and daily examples of innovation are making the difference, indeed. An innovative idea came across the mind of courageous entrepreneurs to push again forward the boundaries of social innovation. In fact, if it is possible to think about sharing a car or a bike, or even a meal, why do not think about sharing work in a farm while having your vacation?
This is exactly what is happening in some innovative Italian farmhouses where people can experience the beauty of farm life in exchange for room and board, as a free vacation. This is the new face of rural tourism, a way to rediscover regional traditions, to see how the products of excellence of our cuisine are born and grow, to learn what means the fieldwork. Some people prefer to live the experience with the whole family, staying in educational farms, designed to introduce children to the rural world and its rhythms, through play. Others decide to enjoy this adventure alone and to get their hands dirty. This is the case of the most extreme agro-travelers, who leave the city and go to the countryside to help the Bio farms for free, in exchange for room and board in Spartan facilities.
WWOOF (World Wide opportunities on organic farms) is the network that represents them and that connects organic farms and available volunteers, just called wwoofers. One more chance to know people, cultures, environments, regions of the world and especially the techniques of natural agriculture. It’s plenty of these examples all over the Italian territory. At the ‘Oasi di Galbusera Bianca’, not far from Milan, you can participate in the collection of pears, apples, plums and herbs, while staying in a sustainable agricultural village, restored following the principles of bio-architecture, and surrounded by woods, hills and streams. At the ‘Fattoria Lara’, in Castiglione del Lago (PG), there is no lack of work, as you can cut wood during the olive harvest, and then plant, prune, and experience all kinds of related activities. The use of a small apartment with bathroom and kitchen is granted for all travelers. At the ‘Valli Unite di Costa Vescovato’ (AL), there is always need of help: for the grape harvest, cheese production, in organic fields’ cultivations. In a farm and petting zoo, near La Spezia, there are also forests to clean, vegetable gardens to hoe: a project that gives the possibility to teach children the secrets of the garden.
There are also farms independent from WWOOF’s circuit, that during peak workloads do not disdain help in the campaign. All over Italy, from Lombardy and Piedmont to Sicily, there are many places that are happy to share with tourists their experiences and daily work, and where tourists can help and learn unexpectable things such as the olive harvest, but also take care of the animals or help in the kitchen for making jams and homemade pasta.
And for those who prefer to make this experience with the whole family? There is plenty of choices. There are about 2,500 educational farms around Italy. Here the children can understand the main priciples of food sustainability. They can also learn how to make pizza, to hoe and plant the garden, to feed the animals, studying their social life, hierarchies and behavioural codes.
Others instead prefer a softer experience in the countryside, learning something new, without sacrificing comfort and maybe staying in old houses or restored farms. You can then experience the collection of the delicate saffron flowers and of the olives, while participating in the harvest and in cooking workshops to learn to make bread or the ricotta for the cannoli.
Surrounded by a landscape of rolling hills and plains interspersed with narrow gorges, all these experiences and good habits can be seen as a unique, great benefit for all: not only a way of remembering tradition and values, but also, and most of all, to learn again the joy of sharing experiences and collaborate for a good reason. In that case, it is completely free of charge but enormously profitable, something new that finds its roots in the olden days, something that teaches to both children and adults how to develop and spread sustainability and sharing values. All this before the rooster crows, of course!
In un mondo dove le realtà più piccole, lo sviluppo lento ma intenso, la buona compagnia e il piacere di collaborare suonano come qualcosa che non può raggiungere un livello ottimale di guadagno e successo, esempi semplici e quotidiani di innovazione stanno facendo la differenza. Ad un gruppo di imprenditori coraggiosi è venuta in mente l’innovativa idea di condividere l’auto, la bicicletta. Perchè non pensare anche a condividere un’esperienza di lavoro in una fattoria mentre si è in vacanza?
E’ ciò che sta accadendo in alcune fattorie italiane dove la gente può sperimentare la bellezza della vita di campagna in cambio di un alloggio.