8 municipalities & the Local Health Unit created a recreational place for people out of job. Over the years, the meeting point has become a market-oriented farm
8 municipalities of "Bassa Reggiana" (Emilia-Romagna) and the Local Health Unit created a recreational place for people with difficulties in working and finding a job. This space grew until it became the market oriented social cooperative “il Bettolino”. Transformation was achieved thanks to the agreement between municipalities and the inter-communal landfill of Novellara. The latter starting from the disposal of waste, generated gas that - if conveyed into engines – can produce electricity and heat. Greenhouses were built to disperse electricity and heat. Subsequently, the idea of producing basil has risen, as this plant requires many light and high temperatures. Therefore, the initial problem faced by the local administrations concerned social and labor integration of disadvantaged citizens; bedsides there was a need to efficiently manage the inter-municipal landfill through the re-use of the produced energy and heat. The greenhouses are heated through the recovery of the biogas deriving from the decomposition of the waste conveyed to the large engines that produce alternative renewable energy. This complex procedure lowers diesel consumption to a minimum level and ensures a reduction of the environmental impact. It can be stated that the public initiative generated an enterprise that maintains its social purpose and contributes to the environment sustainability. Actors: public bodies, private companies, retail trade. Beneficiaries: disadvantaged people, citizens

Resources needed

Public-private cooperation: local administrations grants 100.000/120.000 Euros per year through the agreements for work insertion, educational and social-health-care services; the private granted 14 hectares & buildings on loan for use

Evidence of success

Social cooperative “il Bettolino” is part of the market with a brand has the level of competitiveness of all the other producers; customers are the main players operating in the Italian national large-scale retail trade. 85,000 kg of basil per year, 50% of which is sold in bulk to companies and 50% packaged in trays and marketed with its brand by the largest retail chains. 52 employees (30 with disabilities), 73 members. Paid € 13,000,000 salaries in 14 year

Potential for learning or transfer

Social farming offers the possibility to develop innovative paths capable of holding together the wellbeing, social assistance, and economic development of the communities. It somehow represents a new model of welfare: an operational tool through which local/regional governments can implement social policies in their territories. Experience shows that it is possible to pursue social goals, improve and optimize food distribution, reduce environmental and social impact through the transformation and marketing of aromatic plants with high quality levels and attention to energy recovery. Social agriculture is also characterized by the presence of several stakeholders: business companies, social cooperatives, local health authorities, municipalities, associations, citizens, schools, public bodies, development agencies, training organizations, Universities. Thus, social agriculture facilitates the meeting of different social and technical needs with multi-functional skills and opportunities

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Main institution
Municipalities and Local Health Unit of Bassa Reggiana (Reggio Emilia - IT)
Emilia-Romagna, Italy (Italia)
Start Date
January 1989
End Date


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