Take a group of girls from various parts of the world, quarantined in Loppiano, to be precise the girls of the Youth Project, who live at Torrione and then, add an expert agronomist, Pietro Isolan, also from Loppiano, confined to work from home via “Zoom” and, last but not least, a large green space… What comes out of it? Of course, a vegetable garden!

“Give us a piece of land, a couple of hoes, rakes and that’s it: here’s our vegetable garden! Sweat, toil, laughter, desperation, this is the garden and much more. And what you receive is the fact that your efforts always bear fruit, that there is strength when you are united, and that there are those who believe in your ideas!”

Since the Youth Project was established at the Torrione, the idea of creating a vegetable garden emerged immediately. There was no lack of space, in fact, but there were many activities to be done and the right time had not yet been found to do so.

With the arrival of the pandemic and the compulsory quarantine, we found ourselves having to reorganize the day, to understand which activities to invest our forces. Each one of us had and has her own studies, her own passions to carry on but, at the same time, we shared the desire to get closer to nature, to reconnect with her. And the garden appeared to us as the perfect solution!

It was enough to share the thought with the focolarine who live upstairs and, within a couple of days, we found ourselves taking notes and organizing the work through video calls, under the guidance of Pietro Isolan, agricultural expert and educator of Rural Academy. He suggested that we create a synergistic garden. In essence, it is a garden that reproduces the mechanisms and balances of the forest.

Believing in the value of the land and its strength, we gladly accepted his advice and made it a reality by beginning to prepare the ground in a synergistic way. In no time at all, the necessary tools arrived and we all found ourselves, focolarine and us girls, working.

The atmosphere that the garden has created does not make it “just a piece of land” that requires effort and from which the various fruits grown are harvested, but it is a social expression that encompasses the interaction between us and mother earth and between us and the people around us. People who were strangers before, then became family, because they were there to support and encourage us, to make our dream come true.

And so, the mornings began under the spring sun, amidst laughter and toil, working on weekends, but without anyone having to overdo it.

The work in the vegetable garden has become a moment of sharing, among us of the Torrione, of rediscovering nature, even of ourselves within our limits and our physical strengths; but also of the love of the others who, at this moment, is not easy to perceive and to see, and yet it is there! It is found in different forms, out of the ordinary for example, the time that so many people have dedicated to helping us carry it through or the materials that were donated to us and the instruments that were lent.

Everyone is enjoying the experience of the vegetable garden, and the reasons are the most varied…

Getting your hands dirty gives you dignity, it engages you and forces you to go beyond yourself. It pushes you to ask for concrete help both from your neighbors and from those who are more experienced, to consult with them in order to understand how best to achieve everything. It is an opportunity to build social networks, it makes us truly present for each other, it allows us to help those who are beside us and who, like you, are experiencing something new. In short: Long live the vegetable garden!”.

The girls of the Youth Project
Working in the garden
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