Economy of Communion in EA VIII: Case Study of Lopiano Prima in Firenze, Italy.

Spirituality and Economic Democracy: The Case of Loppiano Prima

Spirituality inspires experiences that can bring about a cultural revolution. Spirituality can also lead to  innovations within the economic systems. However there is still a struggle to develop a theory providing spirituality an opportunity to offer an explanation for its universal innovations and contributions to the common good of humanity.

From spirituality to experience: Community working in Loppiano Prima

Giorgio Balduzzi, General Director of the firm, was satisfied by a Board decision, to invest in new vineyards that would  produce red wine. The Board arrived to this decision after a heated debate because of the fact that the nature of the decision was quite delicate. The choice of planting new vineyards was important but also equally important was the choice between “white and red” vines. Another problem that compounded the decision making process was the fact that the board was formed by people of  different   generations. Some of the people in it had vast experience and were less inclined to undertake risks whilst younger members and technicians are more inclined to take innovative and riskier solutions.

A firm for community experiences

In May 1973 the “Loppiano Prima” Cooperative was established. This establishment gave rise to agricultural activities by way of buying and renting land. Apartments were put up which made the accommodation of workers possible. The ordinary activities of the firm included mechanical maintenance of farm vehicles.

Loppiano, is a few kilometers away from Florence, in Central Italy. In 2004 the cooperative had a revenue of 479.426,00 Euro, ownership capital   of 1.145.950,00 Euro. Lopiano also had 11 full-time workers. Loppiano has a spiritual community  inspired by Focolare Movement whose aim is to be a “small city of witness”! So people of Loppiano Prima are part of this community. This is considered to have been a great factor that enabled the growth of Lopiano Prima.

The firm’s primary activity is growing vines, olive trees and cereals. It also  produces honey and has other activities such as farm holidays; but the most interesting aspect is the way, such activities are carried out. It is important to note that, the entire organization and the Board of Directors get the inspiration of all their activities from the “scriptures”:  “First look for the kingdom of God and his justice, and all the rest will be given to you in addition” (Mt. 6, 33).

Considering that agricultural produce is a primary good, the wish of making the Gospel an integral element of the work requires strategic and productive choices inspired by the principle of “thinking of the human person’s health”.

The firm’s capital has always been sourced  amongst  people who wished to adhere to the principles and the ways of working and producing in the firm, which was inspired by the endorsement of community experiences. Indeed starting with 100 initial members, it has currently increased to include more than 4,000 members. Further to the moment of its constitution, the Loppiano Prima Co operative bought the “Tracolle” farm on January 12th 1974, effectively starting the agricultural activity. Later, the cooperative decided to hire farm workers (former sharecroppers), who had already been living on the farm land with their families more than a hundred years, therefore acquiring their invaluable knowledge and skill, past on to them from previous generations.

With those genuine relationships were created, in spite of different political and religious ideas and beliefs. To be honest, there was a special co-existence between believers and non-believers, and at the beginning of each day they met  to agree upon how to work during the day, which was quite different from the long history of unconditional submission to the landlord.

Paul Kisolo: Executive Consultant KARDS

Millicent Agutu: Administrator KARDS

Francis Owino: Administrator REG

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