Socio-Economic Integration of Migrants and Sicilian Youth through Organic Products
Sicilia Integra aims to support the socio-economic integration of migrants arriving in Sicily through sustainable community and agro-ecology capacity building activities with the view of creating an alternative trading platform for the commercialisation of Sicilian organic products in European markets. Furthermore the project aims to foster the professionalisation of migrants and unemployed youth, create new jobs opportunities in regenerative agriculture, while contributing to the development of a circular economy in Sicily.
The initiative has been developed by Gaia Education and the University of Catania in partnership with the Don Bosco 2000 and I Girasoli migrants welcome centres, Organic Farmers Cooperatives and European ethical organic food companies.
- Creating Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) learning pathways to support migrants and young Sicilians’ professionalisation in the emerging European organic food markets;
- Building an inclusive, decentralised and transparent system of governance and long-term relationships among the different stakeholders;
- Establishing circular economy schemes connecting Sicilian regional food systems with European organic food buyers and markets.
- Promoting humanitarian values which will inform the actions aimed to address complexities deriving from historic cultural, social and religious differences;
- Conducting the vertical integration between the project and the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, COP21 accord, EU2020.
Milestone 1 - Design for Sustainability and Organic Food Systems 5-Week Course
The 5 week learning journey developed and conducted by Gaia Education in partnership with the University of Catania provides the knowledge and practical skills on regenerative and organic farming techniques in the context of the three dimensions of sustainability– environment, society and economy, with culture as an underlying dimension. 17 migrants and 2 unemployed Sicilians were trained in the first course which took place in Piazza Armerina in Spring 2016 with all of them preparing to enter a 6 month training-in-the-job apprenticeships starting during the Summer 2016. See the transformative impact the first course as told by the participants themselves.
The training activities are structured in order to achieve 4 possible scenarios in the short-medium and long-term:
- migrants who will work in the Sicilia Integra partner farms
- migrants that will create their own social enterprises in partnership with Sicilians
- migrants who will return to their countries with new skills and capacities
- migrants who will become educators of other migrants
Milestone 2 - Training in the Job
The training-in-the-job began during Summer 2016 with 5 trainees working in two partner farms where they are learning the agricultural skills alongside organic farmers. Tasks included livestock husbandry, feeding chickens, cows and pigs and learning to graze sheep as well as the production and packaging of milk and yoghurt products.
These practical skills will build on the theory learned in the five week training course including team working, and regenerative and organic farming techniques while all the time improving their language and integration skills. A further group of 3 are due to start at a third farm in the Fall.
Cheikh, Bandiougou, Muhammed and Sambou are working in the Forno Santa Rita bakery alongside Sicilian master baker, Maurizio Spinello.
They are learning the art of making organic pasta, which will be sold through a newly formed social enterprise, and other bakery products.
In preparation for the launch of the social enterprise, Siaka and Alex have formed the communications team, researching various aspects of new business start-ups and assisting with the dissemination of information on Grani di Gaia products.
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