Coldiretti, with 1.5 million members, is Italy’s largest farming interest group and lobby.  (They are not a passive bunch.  In early July, thousands of members gathered at the Brenner Pass to protest the infamous blue mozzarella produced in Germany.  That the cheese was labeled with Italian sounding brand names was particularly rankling to Coldiretti members.)

coldirettis-green-oscars-encourage-agricultural-innovationWithin Coldiretti, there are a number of subgroups: for retirees, for women, for young people, among others.  Giovani Impresa, or Young Enterprise, is the group for those between 18 and 30 years of age.  Its purpose is to support and encourage innovation in agricultural pursuits and to that end, it holds a competition, the Green Oscars.

This year’s ceremony took place on July 15th in Rome.  Giovanni Geraci of Olearia Geraci s.p.a., located in Calabria’s Corigliano Calabro, was among the eighteen finalists in attendance.  Giovanni Geraci is a third generation olive oil producer.  Some 800 projects were reviewed by experts in the various fields and by panelists from Milan’s Boccioni University, Italy’s most esteemed business school.  Coldiretti’s Green Oscars is in its fourth year and prizes are awarded in the following six categories: Company Style and Culture, Beyond the Production Chain, Exporting the Territory, Local Development, Sustaining Climate, and Country Direct Selling.

It wasn’t because of the organic DOP extra-virgin olive oil that Geraci and his family produce from their 10,000 olive trees, but because of their use of olive oil byproducts that allowed them to make it to the competition finals.  They sell bags of “Made in Italy” olive pit pellets for use in domestic pellet stoves and make organic compost from the pomace, vegetation water, and leaves.  Giovanni Geraci was a finalist in the Sustaining Climate category, and ultimately second place winner.  Corigliano Calabro is not far from the coast and the Geracis use wind turbines for energy.  In Italy wind energy is called eolico, after Aeolus, the mythological Greek wind divinity.

Other participants in the competition included a man with a nursery stocked with plants that create the right environment for truffles; a Danish woman who is restoring the miles of walls and terraces of her vineyards in Liguria’s Cinque Terre; and a man who trains falcons to be used at airports to scare away flocks of potentially dangerous birds.

Coldiretti was founded in 1944 and its headquarters are in Rome, housed in the splendid 17th century Palazzo Rospigliosi.  With such sumptuous rooms, you don’t have to go hunting for meeting spaces (in fact, the venue is searched out by event planners) and it is here that the Green Oscar awards ceremony took place.  Oscar makes one think of the film industry awards in California.  Curiously, the Geraci business offices are on Corigliano’s Via Walt Disney, another flattering acknowledgement of California and entertainment.

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