“Le Forme dell’Anima” is a social agricultural cooperative established in 2011 by a group of 27 persons aiming to create an instrument for this community of people who for years have chosen the overcoming of individual property, believing in the importance of the universal value of spirituality, in the rediscovery of the soul and the body through the psychic arts, and in energy and food self-sufficiency. It is near Amelia, south part of Umbria, and is constituted 16 ha with fruit groves, olive trees, vegetables, legumes, old cereals, dairy cows, and beekeeping. Multifunctionality and experimentation in social agriculture have always inspired cooperative activities.
- Name and Surname: Damiano Stufara.
- Birth Year: 1978.
- Gender: Male.
- Education: High school.
- Address/map: Loc. Pozzarighe di Amelia, Strada del conservatorio 4, 05022, Amelia (TR), Italy.
- Farm Area (in ha): 8 ownership + 8 ha rented arable land (organic agriculture).
- Date of establishment of the social farm: 2011.
- No of workers: 7.
Farm general description
It is a social agricultural cooperative that produces organic foods and carries out social agriculture activities such as social-work inclusion of disadvantaged people, therapeutic agriculture (such as “cow cuddling therapy”), and educational activities through a kindergarten, a pre-school, and a private elementary school organized by the cooperative. The farmhouse has been completed and it is used for living by cooperative members and their families.
It offers social-work inclusion of disadvantaged people, as a project of common and community life; depending on their interest, persons with behavioral and social disorders can be trained for a large kind of skills and be involved in several activities (work in open fields, greenhouse and stable, in the farm shop, in the bread-making laboratory, and in the social dairy). Therapeutic agricultural activities (such as “cow cuddling therapy”) are organized too.
After building adequate places, educational and didactic services (a kindergarten, a preschool, and a private elementary school) are offered by the cooperative to different children age groups. In the private elementary school, the usual school subjects are added activities and experiences in nature and cultivated nature.
The cooperative has re-established and/or planted and it is cultivating most of the tree crops, olive trees, fruits, orchards, vegetables in the greenhouse or open fields as well as cultivating the arable land for the production of cereals from old varieties and legumes. It managing also a cow breeding and one of a bee.
Through an external transformation service, the cooperative process Durum wheat in pasta, bread, pastry, and milk in different cheese and yogurts. A farm shop and milk and bread transformation laboratories within the cooperative as well as a vegetable garden will open in 2022.
Main farm brand productions are vegetables, fruit, legumes, honey, and wheat meal from old varieties to produce pasta, bread and cakes, milk, yogurt, honey, and cheese. Essential oils and other cosmetic products are produced too. All of the farm products are certificated organic.
Social Farm Manager Role
The cooperative’s profile is strongly focused on the community and on inclusive and sharing paths among its members so it strongly characterizes the dynamics of management and decision-making within the cooperative. The division of work and roles ensures that responsibilities can be shared and knowledge transferred. The specialization of the various tasks does not imply permanence in the respective roles. Management is therefore collective and decisions are taken with the consensus method, not with majority voting.
Social Farm Tutor Role
Depending on the work inclusion activities of the trainees or disadvantaged people or collaborations through volunteers involvement, the best tutors are identified from time to time with respect to the specific context.
Concerning all didactic and educational activities organized (a kindergarten, a pre-school, and a private elementary school) the specific tutors are identified to stay with and teach to the children with the different aged groups.
Relationships with Social/Health Services
For years, debates and collaborations have been active with the social services of the municipalities of Narni and Amelia, where the cooperative is located. These relationships were articulated in terms of the education in nature, with educational services offered to those who are recommended by the services, such as children with disadvantages; moreover, the cooperative offers therapeutic internships for users in conditions of mental distress (both Italians and asylum applicants) recommended by those municipalities.
Relationships with families
Periodic meetings are held with the families of our users and intense collaborations and voluntary activities have been developed with some of them in support of the life project that the cooperative is carrying out.
Relationships with Social Agriculture Networks
There are many common projects and collaborations with the local and regional networks of the third sector and with agricultural associations.
In particular, the cooperative is a partner of the PEI-AGRI AgriSocial Network project in which experiments and innovative services are shared with Umbrian actors engaged in social agriculture and with the University of Perugia.
The cooperative’s vision is part of a community life project. This means that the bonds of belonging and mutual mutuality are particularly strong and the boundary between work and daily actions and the activity of the social cooperative is very thin.
The social farm development plan has foreseen to develop more the education sector in nature, to complete the investments functional to the growth of “cow cuddling therapy” and the social dairy, to achieve complete food and energy self-sufficiency, and to offer hospitality to as many people as possible for short or long stays. Moreover, the cooperative wants more experiment life models far from consumerism and based on the rediscovery of the soul of each individual.
Suggestions for managing a social farm
According to the members of the cooperative, all actions for the management and development of a social cooperative should not necessarily be part only of the dominant economic canons.