A meeting was held on the 27 and 28 May in Loppiano (Florence-Italy) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Loppiano Prima Cooperative. Fifty years on from the 19 May 1973, the date the cooperative was set up, the event provided a unique opportunity to recall the founding moments, take stock of the journey travelled so far and re-launch productive and commercial activities, looking ahead to the future. We would like to share with you an interview with Maria Ghislandi and Giuseppe Marvelli who were two of its founding members.
“You cannot have a future without memory so it is crucial to go back to the roots, and in this break we wish to emphasize our ongoing commitment to recovering, reviving and translating into the present day context, the founding inspirations and prophetic sparks given to the Cooperative over time by Chiara Lubich”.
It was with these words that Beatrice Vecchione, the current President of the Loppiano Prima Cooperative, opened the weekend of celebrations entitled Love for Creation, a prophecy on the move, a special occasion commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Cooperative’s foundation that took place on 27 and 28 May 2023 in the Auditorium of Loppiano, the Focolare Movement’s international little town near Florence in Italy.
It was a weekend of exchanging and sharing ideas with a view towards integral ecology which revealed the heart of this pioneering experience of ecological agriculture during Laudato Sì Week.
“Loppiano Prima”, Beatrice Vecchione continued, “has its own physiognomy and typical characteristics well captured by the title and because it undoubtedly reflects five decades of “love for creation and of a prophecy on the move”, a prophecy of which, going back to the roots, Raffaella Pinassi Cardinali – one of the pioneers and someone who has always been a point of reference for the agricultural cooperative that was started in 1973 on the wave of a challenge – to support the construction and development of the little town of Loppiano.
Starting on 19 May of that year, with 8 founding members eager to put to good use the land in the Chianti hills of Florentine Valdarno donated to the Focolare Movement by the Folonari family, Loppiano Prima has become a cooperative with a widespread shareholding system that currently has 3,256 shareholders. As stated in its Articles of Association, “it has no speculative purpose and is governed by the principles of mutuality that prevails”. Furthermore, “its main purpose is to achieve the community’s general interest in promoting humanity and integrating its citizens in society, as well as contributing to the implementation of universal fraternity”.
This is how, over the last 50 years, on uncultivated land that had been abandoned when many farmers emigrated in the post-war period, Loppiano Prima Cooperative has become the protagonist of a unique experience of ante litteram ecological agriculture which has put humanity, nature and their relationship with each other at the centre. A topic that is active and operational within Loppiano but which is also present in and for the region, the fruit of the generosity, tenacity and passion of so many volunteers of God of the Focolare Movement who felt the call to respond to Chiara Lubich’s prophecy 50 years ago, giving God through work; above all the fruit of the faith of those who believed in and wanted to take care of that dream that we have now inherited: to love creation, making of one’s own life a true witness of the Gospel.
Now we will share Maria Ghislandi and Giuseppe Marvelli’s stories, two of the founding members of Loppiano Prima.