The Del Conca Group will allocate their 2016 Christmas gift resources to offer a future, purchasing products that would otherwise remain unsold, from farmers and livestock breeders hit by the earthquake in central Italy. The quake caused numerous victims and the destruction of many buildings. Many families lost their homes, jobs and businesses. All products purchased were donated to Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII to provide food assistance to over three hundred halfway houses and shelters.
A SUPPORT PROJECT FOR AREAS HIT BY THE EARTHQUAKE
The shock in the hamlets and towns in the epicentre and surrounding areas has been extensive. Many have lost their homes, and several have seen their own production facilities or commercial premises damaged. Indeed, this area, while marked by small villages surrounded by unspoilt nature and traditional farming, also features a high concentration of craftsmen and small businesses, most notably in the food farming sector. The greatest fear for those living the Marche region who were victims of the earthquake is precisely that they will have to leave, not just their homes, but their production businesses as well, which are often next to their living quarters, and which for them are an integral part of life itself. Because of the season and in anticipation of the Christmas holidays, even the smallest producers had already invested many resources in raw materials, semi-finished goods and the start of winter production. The earthquake has in some cases damaged the laboratories or warehouses of these businesses, forcing them to budget for extraordinary maintenance, or operations to restore normal working conditions. The most significant damage, however, is the fall in demand that these small producers have suffered, related to the fact that the historical centres of the towns that were hit have been evacuated, small businesses and restaurants have been forced to suspend activities or close, and consequently many speciality food producers, who were normally geared towards a limited local market, have suffered drastic reductions in demand or cancelled purchase orders.
BUT WHICH PRODUCTS AND PRODUCERS FROM THE EARTHQUAKE AREA?
Tasting Marche located and spoke on our behalf with a few craft producers who have directly suffered material or immaterial damages from the quake, and from whom to purchase the products.
- Società Agricola F.lli Angeli (Angeli Brothers Farm company)-Pievetorina
This is a family-run business located in Capriglia, a small hamlet part of Pievetorina, in the Monti Sibillini National Park. They produce legumes, cheeses, pastas and flours, preserves, juices and other farm products. They raise cattle and sheep. The company suffered structural damage from the earthquake, which severely damaged the barns and living quarters (roof). They have already applied for forms for the animals, which otherwise risk dying of cold in the winter. The shop next to the cheese factory has already halted sales because no one comes by any more. They have been evacuated to Recanati and Porto Recanati, and travel 3 hours a day to tend to the animals and farm.
- Salumificio Monterotti (Monterotti Salami factory)-Saranano
Over the course of many years, they specialised in the production of cured meats made from pigs raised in the Marche hinterland, all of excellent quality. For over 40 years, they have been producing prosciutto, salami, cured wild boar, roast pig, pork loin, “ciauscolo” PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), a local salami, and other cured meats. During the recent earthquake, they suffered some structural damage to the barns and family homes, but mostly they saw a sharp slowdown in orders, since many of their customers (small local restaurants or shops) are currently not fit for use and, at least for the time being, have closed for business. The company, in spite of this period of hardship, lets a local salami factory, also damaged, do their curing on their premises as well, thus sacrificing this space for their own production and curing. They therefore need faster stock turnover, all while respecting curing times.
- La Pasta di Celiano (Celiano’s Pastas)-San Ginesio
The farm and the pasta factory are owned by Diego Luciani, and are located in Celiano, an ancient hamlet part of Vallimestre in the Town of San Ginesio, just outside the Monti Sibillini National Park. They produce traditional egg pastas, short, long and for soups. Near the historical centre of San Ginesio, the company also runs a farm holiday operation. The earthquake has turned the historical centre of San Ginesio into a red zone, and slightly damaged their small laboratory next to the walls of the town. In their case, the greatest damage concerns the cancelled orders for pasta already made and not yet collected (they have pallets ready but they’re not going anywhere, as customers cannot and no longer wish to collect them), and a sudden stop in new orders from small local businesses and restaurants. The company has given us the names of at least 10 customers who cancelled orders that were already completed and ready to ship. (they can get us some photos of the damages and the San Ginesio red zone).
- Caseificio Di Pietrantonio (Di Pietrantonio Dairy)-Belforte del Chienti
Very close to Belforte del Chienti, a small town with a medieval urban layout, this cheese factory belongs to the Di Pietrantonio family, with, until recently, a history of transhumance in the search for better pastures. They have several facilities, with their own animals, and a variety of small livestock farmers from whom they get their milk, in the hills around Belforte del Chienti and Serrapetrona. They have a cheese factory with a shop next door in Belforte del Chienti, and their own shop in the centre of Tolentino. They suffered damages to one of their barns, their homes (part of the family sleeps in the caravan in front the cheese factory parking lot), and their Tolentino store has seen a drastic reduction in their takings, such that they’ve had to move one employee (there used to be two) because “to keep it open, when no one stops by, even one person is too many”. One big issue is that the animals, shocked by the earthquake and continuous tremors (which are still ongoing), have dropped their milk production by over 50% and so, aside from the produce they currently have, they’re very worried about their future.