The farmers of the Bormida valley

Years ago, when large factories such as Ferrero started up in Piedmont and a thriving glass industry developed, many farmers left their farms to get a permanent job in the factory.

Locals say that the farmers near the Ferrero factory were told by their boss that their land was valuable too and that they should not neglect their farm. Fortunately, because that area is now famous for its Barolo wines.

Unfortunately, this was not the case in the Bormida Valley. The only ones who continued to work in agriculture and live in the countryside were those who were unsuited for anything else. They were therefore considered to be losers. “Farmer” almost became a swear word and the Bormida Valley slowly but surely emptied out.

You would think that that mindset has changed in the meantime. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. For example, last summer a local woman told me they were not invited to a family member’s wedding because her husband was “just a farmer”.

Until recently, Italian city people felt sorry for those who lived in places like ours, in the middle of nowhere. Now, with the corona crisis, that has suddenly changed. People from the city suddenly discover that their expensive apartments with balconies are hellish, while the “poor farmers” enjoy the space around them and the freedom that such little inhabited valleys offer. Of course, even if they are allowed to farm, it’s a real challenge to get their products sold at the moment.

But who knows what the future will bring. Maybe Italians will fall in love with their less populated, green valleys again and new opportunities for the farmers in our area will arise. I really hope so !

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