Here the mafia did not win! Pietro shouts it loud and clear and clear as soon as we arrive in Toro district, in the countryside of Cerignola, near the colorful building that houses the Laboratory of Legality ‘Francesco Marcone’, a confiscated property to the mafia.
Welcome to your home
Pietro Fragasso is the president of the Pietra di Scarto Social Cooperative, which since 1996 has been involved in the promotion of social and economic justice and since 2010 manages the Laboratory of Legality entitled to the memory of Francesco Marcone, Director of the Office of the Foggia Registry killed by the mafia on March 31, 1995.
The lands around here, abandoned for ten years, now give “Bella di Cerignola” olives and tomatoes and one day, who knows, wine from the rows of vines that the guys wanted to plant more so as not to leave space for the weeds that here have proliferated in the past.
Accompanying us in the walk between the fields Pietro and Giuseppe welcomed us saying “Welcome to your home” and they explain that the deeper meaning of Law 109/96 has really been put into practice here: transforming the symbols of mafia power into revival workshops social and economic, bringing them back to society. In fact, at the Laboratory, boys work with a past, but also a present, difficult to be “retrieved” and in turn work so that once grassy and desolate land will come from flowers and fruits.
Since the Laboratory has begun its activity, Giuseppe Mennoni, current Cooperative director who does not hesitate to be a boy from the troubled past, says with just pride, already 81 people have gone by: letting their contribution through work and collaboration and taking their future forward.
Is there an anecdote at the basis of the birth of this love for legality, social justice, and of course for the territory? – we ask Pietro.
“The anecdote is linked to the name: the scrapstone, just that set aside by the builders who then becomes the cornerstone, as it is told in the New Testament. So we think that all people in difficulty, if helped, can redeem themselves in a sharing and growth path. We also do this through the recovery of the land, the same land confiscated by an affiliate, the accounting officer Rosario Giordano, of one of the Foggia clans of reference in the 1980s, that of the Piarulli-Ferraro active also in Milan. On these three acres the cooperative now produces “Bella di Cerignola” olives and tomatoes”.
Pietro continues, catching everyone’s attention in an almost unreal silence: “At the end of 2013, the idea of involving Pietra di Scarto in the cultivation of tomato solidarity, in full respect of the rights of workers, chosen among the migrants who lived” the margins “in the many ghettos of the area”. This is how Pomodoro revolution, the fundraising campaign promoted by the cooperative Pietra di Scarto, with the support of Banca etica for the realization of an ambitious project that started with the call won by the cooperative and promoted by Fondazione con il sud, with which manages and closes the whole production chain. Including the disadvantaged and exploited workers, the small market-makers and the 100% biologic tomato transformation in the laboratory right inside the confiscated property, the Laboratory of Legality “Francesco Marcone”.
“It will be possible to contribute to the success of the project by going to the Banca Etica network and paying their own contribution for the good cause until December 24th”, adds Pietro inviting everyone to visit www.produzionidalbasso.com.
But Cooperative initiatives do not end here because it is also a member of the Consortium Altromercato and manages a Bottega del Mondo in Cerignola, as well as realizing initiatives of the Libera network and promoting activities aimed at “marginalized near and far”.
You’re not scared? It’s the last question. Pietro borrows Gioavnni Falcone’s words: “It is important not to determine whether one is afraid or not, is able to live with his own fear and not be conditioned by it. Here, courage is this, otherwise it is no longer courage, it is unconscious”. And in support of this, he informs us that in Cerignola, a town that is sadly famous for its high crime rate, five properties were confiscated and all were assigned: that’s enough to tell not only a ransom economy, but the will of many people say no to the mafia.