The producer of the award-winning Laudemio brand teaches the art of making great olive oil to inmates serving sentences in the penal institution of Sollicciano, in the suburbs of Florence.
The idea started with the development of a winemaking program on the island of Gorgona, the model prison where inmates live in open air and are employed in agricultural projects including the production of olive oil. The good results led to extend the plan Frescobaldi per il sociale (Frescobaldi for social) to other penal institutions.
“The activity at Sollicciano is part of our desire to provide a professional opportunity for detainees,” Lamberto Frescobaldi, the pioneer of the project, told Olive Oil Times. “There was an olive grove in the garden of the prison, with plants that had been recently planted and left unmanaged,” he explained.
“We know a good extra virgin olive oil is the result of a sound management of the trees which involves adequate agricultural practices and treatments. Our agronomists supported the inmates and last year they produced a very good product.”
After an initial good harvest that boosted the work, this year has been more complicated due to the need for several treatments. Nevertheless, the production has been extended to a new olive grove located on a hill outside the prison, where inmates have the opportunity to go for during the harvest period.
“They are employed and rightly paid,” Frescobaldi pointed out. “This makes them return to work again, while they become independent and able to help their families.” Work and personal commitment dignify the detainees, who are also gratified by the creation of a high-quality product. “If the extra virgin olive oil is good, those who have purchased it once, will buy it again, and not only for charity. We want the detainees to be proud of their work and the consumer to be impressed with the intrinsic quality.”
Consisting of Moraiolo, Leccino, Frantoio and Pendolino which are pressed at Castello di Nipozzano estate, the blend takes its name from the area inside the prison called Giardino degli incontri, or Garden of reunion.
Designed by the architect Giovanni Michelucci, it is a dignified place where detainees meet their families. “When the time came to pick a name, I thought about this place because good extra virgin olive oil brings people together,” said Frescobaldi. “I hope that our EVOO will be used by people to spend good time together, sharing its quality and confidently looking into the future.”