Immagine Castelbuono, lives up to its name

Castelbuono, lives up to its name

12 July 2019

There is a place in Sicily where a slow-moving but rock-solid revolution is underway. Some years ago, Castelbuono, a small town in the province of Palermo with just over 8,000 inhabitants, was identified by the CON IL SUD Foundation for its significant potential to start a local community development project.

In the cool of the Madonie Mountains and a few kilometres from the sea, this Sicilian village has long embraced social innovation. It is no wonder that for more than 10 years now, the somewhat authentic and eco-friendly door-to-door recycling project has been successfully managed with the help of donkeys and the involvement of underprivileged members of the community.

Castelbuono is a go-to holiday destination for the people of Palermo; a place with excellent cuisine, great cultural zest and a one-of-a-kind product. Manna is a miraculous sap, collected in the summer only from local ash trees by using ancient harvesting methods. It is a precious and a very expensive substance with a thousand uses in cosmetics, in pharmaceutical, and in confectionery products and a truly unique resource also for the development of the region.

Manna that doesn’t fall from the sky! In the last decades, the harvesting and processing of this precious sap has been gradually diminishing, and it has been practiced only by a few “old enthusiasts”. After all, in Italy’s South, many young people have decided to emigrate. The real risk of forgetting and losing an important tool for development, carefully handed down for generations, has been curbed thanks to the call for proposals by the CON IL SUD Foundation. The project brought together four cooperatives (three of which are social) in a single consortium. It employs over 40 farmers and has trained about 30 young ash grove cultivators. The hope is to build a future here. Today this hope has become a reality.  Indeed, so far 60 hectares of uncultivated ash groves have been recovered and over 1500 kg of manna has been produced in just two years, hence creating employment and opportunity for growth.

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