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Valelapena: an Italian way to foster convicts’ re-integration in the society

When social agriculture creates job opportunities

Valelapena: an Italian way to foster convicts’ re-integration in the society

Claudia Astarita

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Valelapena (or "it's worth it" in English) is the name of the wine produced with the grapes grown by the convicts of the prison Giuseppe Montaldo in Alba (Cuneo). In partnership with the Oenological Institute Umberto I from Alba, 1.400 bottles of wine are produced every year by convicts who are willing to get involved in this project.

In particular, the initiative includes 15 convicts a year, who are enrolled in a specific course to get the qualification of " agricultural operator". After that, they start growing of local grapes. While the first phase of grape selection and growing is completely given to convicts, the Oenological Institute intervenes in the process of vinification, bottling and labelling.

Valelapena has great social significance for the re-integration of the convict in the society. In fact, the project was warmly welcomed by institutions. Andrea Olivero, vice-minister of Agricultural Policies, stressed the pivotal role of welfare initiative like Valelapena, where "the integration of agriculture, ethics and legality can give birth to a new season of rights and civic conscience". Valelapena is an example of social agriculture the vice-minister has strongly supported because of its great potential for convicts. They are involved in a process of training and skills acquisition, which can be essential to find a job once they are out.

In order to promote Valelapena wine, the leadership has launched a barrique limited edition, with the label designed by the famous Italian cartoonist Giampiero Casertano. Bottles can be purchased both from the Institute and from the prison. All the revenues are devoted to Valelapena, ensuring its continuation for the following year. Active from 2006, Valelapena gives the chance to convicts to acquire professional skills and to be ready for labour market once out.

Other actors have believed in the validity of the project, putting their skills at stake. Among them, Syngenta providing specific products, resources and skills necessary for the complete protection of the vineyard.

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