26 June 2017
A network of solidarity between companies and volunteers offers to 15 refugees and migrants from various reception centers in Bolzano to engage in the cultivation of a 3,000 square foot garden.

"Having nothing to do is one of the inferior things, because it does not hold dignity and hope for the future - explains Heiner Oberrauch, President of the Salewa-Oberalp Group and founder of Orto Salewa - I have tried to propose to local associations and institutions Of activities destined for refugees and migrants, but I did not succeed. I think politics can not solve everything and that it is a civil duty to engage in a person first. Agriculture is an integral part of the culture and life of our community and so the idea of ​​Orto Salewa is born".

Stephanie Völser, Executive Assistant for the President and Project Manager, has been engaged since the beginning of 2016 in the Binario 1 movement, an organization that provides assistance and support to refugees and migrants who came to Bolzano. Through this experience he has developed the belief that integration can only be achieved if accompanied by active employment. So he convinced his chairman to make available a vast area of ​​land in front of the modern seat of the group.

Beginning in March, preparatory work has begun, and now, around 3,000 square meters of the garden, fifteen are involved with refugees and migrants, intending to grow more than thirty quality vegetables, herbs, blueberries and raspberries. Their activity is followed by a number of volunteers, such as Caroline Hohenbühel, who put the experience of Binario 1 and Josef Zemmer, a master craftsman in cultivation, who is sending them the techniques of organic farming.

The original Orto Salewa has also created new partnerships with some local companies that have joined the project, creating a large network of solidarity around workers. Gregor Wenter and Egon Heiss, respectively owner and starred chef of the Bad Schörgau restaurant in Sarentino, have been alive to ask to become customers of the Orto Salewa products. Egon Heiss has also provided organic fertilizer that, along with the compost provided free of charge by Bioenergia Trentino, is an indispensable element for the sustainable cultivation of the soil.

The agricultural tools were provided free of charge by the Bolzano Agricultural Agro-Consortium and are currently deposited in a container made available by Niederstätter, which deals with rental of construction materials and equipment. In addition, the Gardencenter Biasion is instantly passionate about the project by offering all the seedlings for the garden. Finally, a key requirement has been solved by collaborating with the social cooperative OfficineVispa, which has allowed to overcome some of the bureaucratic obstacles by integrating refugees and migrants as members of the cooperative.

Employees of the Salewa-Oberalp group have also become supporters of the initiative. Every year a Christmas is organized a charity lottery that allows you to choose between four social projects to finance. The amount collected is then increased tenfold by the company, and in this way over 7,000 euros were collected for Orto Salewa.

The Orto Salewa has now begun to give the first fruits. The products are delivered, a front of a free donation, at the Bad Schörgau Restaurant, at Salewa Bivac Restaurant Bar and Salewa employees. The proceeds of the donations are intended for the 15 refugees and migrants who are actively engaged in the Orto Salewa.

"The learning aspect of agricultural and economic techniques is obviously important - concludes Stephanie Völser - because social dignity also passes through a partial economic autonomy. But the greatest value of the project is the possibility of leaving the reality separate from the centers of Welcoming and getting in touch with the community around them. We do not expect this project to be resolved, but we hope it can make a positive contribution to the lives of these people and perhaps also be inspired by such projects".

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