Credits: © Enrico Adragna – Bio Viola
How to become agricultural entrepreneur it is not just an interview with a young man who has chosen a difficult but also fascinating path. It is also a small guide for those who want to work in a reality that is increasingly loved by many young people.
In an era when technology seems to prevail over everything, there are those who have the intelligence to look beyond. And if this vision is implemented by young people, born in beautiful but complex land like Sicily, there is a need to dwell on these life stories that, to change and improve, choose to go back to the past by applying the benefits of contemporaneity. All this without difficulty but with the awareness that love is the key to overcoming any obstacle.
Here my intervierw to Enrico Adragna, a young Sicilian agricultural entrepreneur who chose to enter the organic family farm, leaving a well-paid job, and today talks about his satisfying experience in contact with the nature.
When and how did your company start up?
The farm is born with my grandfather. It is enough to think only a few decades ago: the peasant who, every Monday, with its mule or bicycle, at dawn, went to work in the country, accompanied by a loaf of bread that had to be enough until Saturday when he came back at home. That’s my grandfather.
With such a father, who spits the family thanks to the work in agriculture, it will not be difficult to understand the love transmitted to the three sons, Francesca (my mother), Antonino and Vincenzo.
The children grow up and make a bond with this wonderful land, Sicily, which gives so much and so little receives. How to best respond if not with respect? If not with organic farming?
In 2007, thanks to the psychological support of Giuseppina (Antonino’s wife) and the young ideas of my brother Davide, we decided to make our raw materials (quality grapes but sold at the slaughterhouse of the cellars) and pack our first two wines, catarratto and merlot.
“Bioviola” produces olive oil from Cerasuola olives and other 3 wines: Nero d’Avola, Rosé di Nero d’Avola and Alcamo DOC Grillo. There is also a pastry of dried tomato of Pizzutello, an antique Sicilian wheat flour, 7 pasta sizes and a new plant of Perricone.
For a year also a point of sale of organic and typical Sicilian products, a vegetable garden and a tasting room.
What do you cultivate?
Our, is a company of about 30 hectares, all cultivated in the highest respect of nature and man.
The vineyards are of five varieties, divided between Catarratto and Cricket with white berry and Nero d’Avola, Perricone and Merlot with red berries.
The only varieties of olives are Cerasuola and two Sicilian antique grain varieties, Biancolilla, as hard wheat, and Mallorca as a common wheat.
Today, the choice of organic cultivation brings together the consensus of even the most skeptical consumers. What are the characteristics of organic cultivation and, why, should we eat organic food?
Unfortunately, only recently the spotlight has focused on organic farming, which has always been reputedly expensive and uncertain.
We cultivate land with the organic farming method since 1991, we know what it means and we can say that not always the costs are higher but above all we can state that there is no comparison when it comes to protecting the health and flavors.
We also studied the varieties to produce: the Biancolilla, produced on the same grounds already by my grandfather; native vine varieties; the Sicilian breeding hen, the tomato “pizzutello”. Finally, the selection and knowledge of the products of third parties that are inside our shop, which is called “Sicily”.
We like our work and do not want to stop at the seller / buyer relationship, we also want to be consultants.
Your day in the countryside?
Unfortunately, I can spend less time than I would like between nature, but the working day never bore me. I do not have a day like this, I divide it between email, retail sales, conferences, campaigns, tastings and bureaucracy.
What advice would you give to those who would like to start a company like yours?
The first suggestion is determination. The journey that divides organic farming from the conventional takes a moment, I suggest never to miss the goal and, once achieved, to immediately fix another one that makes you always dynamic.
I advise you to be well versed in the products, regulations, rights and duties governing organic farming. Training on it is never enough! I would like to invite you to move from the country’s library, to talk to your grandparents, to shred as much information as possible on native products and to specialize on them.
I would advise you to surround yourself with people, guys who have the same ideas and to make a group, today cooperation is paramount.
As mentioned, I was born into a family with a distinct agricultural vocation and this I think is one of my greatest fortunes.
Living in agriculture makes you grow faster, makes you understand how much work you have to make to get to the crop, it makes you realize how much you have to sweat to get a profit that some vintages will not even arrive. It grows strong!
Already, during the studies I started working to be independent of the family, and to have an autonomy that would allow me to give me some non-essential good or service.
I drove dozens of pizzerias, restaurants and reception rooms, always giving a hand when needed in the countryside throughout the high school and university period (which I could not finish with great regret).
I have worked for years in the world of communication and graphics, designing and creating advertising and political spots at national level, a fun and never static work but to my brother’s proposal to actively participate and live daily at BioViola I did not know give up.
So I left a job that I enjoyed, well paid, for something that initially made me afraid but at the same time would give me the chance to bet on my person again.
Today, I’m happy with the choice made.
I love my life because it does not divide between work and fun but combines them!