“Thanks to ReStartApp, I was able to develop the skills I needed to manage a business and optimise the value of a land that lends itself very well to traditional farming methods: the Molise Apennines”.
Born in Piedmont, in the Val Pellice, six years ago Michela chose to wake up to a different skyline: that of the Apennines. She moved to Molise, in the hills around Campolieto, in the province of Campobasso, 800 metres above sea level. “I decided to change my life mainly because I wanted to help my partner Nicola in a project he had just started” she says.
The project is Società Agricola Alba, a closed-loop multifunctional organic farm that was set up by Nicola Del Vecchio in 2012, on an 85-hectare plot, originally belonging to his grandfather. Michela permanently joined him in Campolieto at the end of 2014.
The couple had met a few years before, at the Pollenzo University of Gastronomic Sciences (in the province of Cuneo). Michela had enrolled in 2010, taking a course in Gastronomic and Tourist Heritage Management and Promotion, after completing a degree in Virtual Design at the Turin Polytechnic. When they met, Nicola was writing a dissertation on his future farming business: “It was based on the concept of systemic design, a notion I was familiar with because of my studies and because it was developed at the Turin Polytechnic – explains Michela – I was well aware of its industrial applications, as seen, for example, in the choice of Lavazza to use coffee waste to grow mushrooms, but Nicola’s innovation was that of applying this concept to a farming business, to convert waste into new resources”.
Systemic Design is a design and production methodology “seeking to manage all that is involved in a process, both in terms of quantity and quality, for the purpose of coordinating all stages of production, checking relations with other production cycles and avoiding any possible waste” reads the Treccani encyclopaedia.
An example of systemic design applied to a farming business such as Alba is the use of the residues left after processing milk into cheese to feed chickens. “The whey that is left after ricotta production is rich in nutrients. For cheese makers, that residue is normally a cost in terms of disposal, but we have been able to obtain a certification to use it as food for our chickens, making their eggs stronger due to the presence of calcium” explains Michela.