`Restoring the Dignity of Mafia Lands - Olive Oil Times

Restoring the Dignity of Mafia Lands

Aug. 31, 2015
Ylenia Granitto

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August, for Italians, means one thing: vaca­tions. The coast is crowded with tourists from all over the world who enjoy care­free and relax­ing 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 man­age the pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion of Libera Terra prod­ucts that, since 2008, con­nect qual­ity and an eth­i­cal com­mit­ment.

Libera (Freed). Associations, Names and Numbers Against Mafia Organizations” is a net­work that involves more than 1,600 region­ally-based asso­ci­a­tions, groups, and schools com­mit­ted to con­struct­ing polit­i­cal-cul­tural syn­er­gies and spread­ing a cul­ture of legal­ity. It was cre­ated in 1995 by Father Luigi Ciotti with the pur­pose of sup­port­ing civil soci­ety in its fight against orga­nized crime.

In 2012 Libera was on the list pre­pared by The Global Journal” of the one hun­dred best NGOs — the only Italian com­mu­nity empow­er­ment orga­ni­za­tion and the first non-profit orga­ni­za­tion on the list.

This first project in 2008 gave birth to Libera Terra Mediterraneo (Free Mediterranean Land ), a non-profit con­sor­tium that involves social coop­er­a­tives and other oper­a­tors that share the prin­ci­ples of legal­ity and equity. It man­ages prop­er­ties con­fis­cated from the mafia accord­ing to the Law n. 109/96 on the use of real estate con­fis­cated from orga­nized crime.

Libera Terra’s goal is giv­ing dig­nity to ter­ri­to­ries char­ac­ter­ized by a strong mafia pres­ence, through the cre­ation of autonomous and self-sus­tain­able coop­er­a­tives, in order to pro­vide new jobs and cre­ate a pos­i­tive and vir­tu­ous eco­nomic sys­tem based on legal­ity and social jus­tice.

Highly qual­i­fied pro­fes­sion­als from dif­fer­ent back­grounds work to pro­duce and sell qual­ity goods, with a great price/value rela­tion­ship includ­ing wine, pasta, honey, sweet and savory pre­serves, Mozzarella di Bufala (buf­falo moz­zarella), and EVOO.

Cooperatives can be vis­ited accord­ing to the cri­te­ria of respon­si­ble tourism and they are acces­si­ble to hun­dreds of peo­ple each year through vol­un­teer camps that offer envi­ron­men­tal and farm­ing edu­ca­tion, in addi­tion to an ethics train­ing based on joint respon­si­bil­ity, civic engage­ment and com­mit­ment against cor­rup­tion. This sum­mer 52 such camps are work­ing all over Italy.

Three dif­fer­ent EVOOs are pro­duced and sold in the most pres­ti­gious dis­tri­b­u­tion chan­nels, both in Italy and in many for­eign coun­tries.

In Sicily, Libera Terra’s farm­ers super­vise young olive groves com­posed of Nocellara del Belice, Biancolilla and Nocellara Etnea allo­cated between the province of Catania and the Province of Palermo, pre­cisely in the Alto Belice Corleonese area. They com­bine these vari­eties with Cellina di Nardò, Ogliarola Salentina and Leccino from Salento, to cre­ate the extra vir­gin olive oil Libera Terra.

A sec­u­lar olive grove con­sist­ing of Ogliarola Salentina and Cellina di Nardò grown in the sandy and cal­care­ous soil of Brindisi area is exclu­sively ded­i­cated to the pro­duc­tion of Libera Terra Secular” EVOO.

The flag­ship prod­uct is the DOP Valle del Belice Libera Terra which is ded­i­cated, accord­ing to the Libera Terra web­site, Barbara Rizzo, Giuseppe and Salvatore Asta, who were killed by a car bomb intended to assas­si­nate a judge. It is pro­duced with young plants of Nocellara del Belice from the tuffa­ceous soil of Castelvetrano, Sicily.

The olive groves are all cul­ti­vated under dry land con­di­tions and the farm­ing sys­tem is clearly organic, accord­ing to the basic prin­ci­ples of the project.

This out­stand­ing union of ethics and qual­ity trans­mits the great mes­sage that you can reach high qual­ity through an equi­table and fair approach. As if to say that the suc­cess can be achieved if the resources and the meth­ods are fair and hon­est.


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