Integrating in a small community with less than 800 residents wasn’t easy. To many of them, you are and always be the city dweller that is playing being a farmer. If you are a woman and you happen to have a degree, things are even worse. You have to prove your value in the field. Literally.”
In the 1980s, Alice Liguori used to spend her holidays in Rocca Sinibalda (Rieti), in the Rieti Apennines. Her grandfather lived in this village, located in the Turano Valley, almost six hundred meters above sea level. This is where her mother was born. «I am from Naples, instead. My grandfather died when I was 5 years old, leaving some relatives and his house. When I enrolled at university to study Environmental and Marine Science in Viterbo – which is relatively close – I started frequenting the village again».
In 2017 Alice decided to live in Rocca Sinibalda and to establish the farm Azienda Agricola Colle Berardino with Federico Porro. Before, she was a researcher and a member of the technical crew on oceanographic research vessels. She was in charge of the analyses on the quality of water on behalf of the Italian National Research Council (CNR, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche) and of the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA – Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale): “It was a challenge, in a very competitive environment where the presence of female workers was regarded with disfavour”, says Alice. Alice and Federico, who has a degree in Agriculture, embarked upon their adventure in the Apennines by taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the RDP (Rural Development Programme) Call for Proposals issued by the Lazio Region. “When we started, all we had were a half-hectare olive tree grove I was given by my mother and some bees. The grants we received for the first settlement amounted to €70 thousand. These financial resources enabled us to purchase one hectare of land, a tractor, and the bee equipment, and to set up our website”, continues Alice.
Within the framework of the Rural Development Programme (RDP), the measure known as “first settlement” envisages aid for “setting up young farmers”. This measure is aimed at encouraging generation renewal in the management of farms and at sustaining the settlement of young entrepreneurs, as well as increasing the businesses’ competitiveness.
The public Call for Proposals is open to people aged 18 to 40 years. Those who apply for the grant commit themselves to setting up a detailed business development plan, which is key to gain access to the available funds.
In 2017 Alice also took part in the “on campus” course ReStartApp: “Among our first friends here in Rieti were Miguel and Alessandra from Tularù, who had told us about their experience with ReStartApp in 2014. Later, Federico took part in a meeting of beekeepers in Sansepolcro (Arezzo), where he found a brochure describing this project. That’s how we decided to enroll».