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by intern Becca Stanger

On April 6, 2009 a violent earthquake of 6.3 magnitude shook the very foundations of Italy’s Abruzzo region.  When the dust had settled, the damage amounted to over 220 deaths, 1500 injuries, and 25,000 homeless survivors.  In the wake of the disaster, numerous concerned community organizations, like The Italian Red Cross, The New York Police Department, The Italian-American Museum, and many more, organized relief efforts for the devastated region.  In addition, the U.S. Department of State and the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) entered into a public-private partnership in May to address the needs of University of L’Aquila students.  While all of these efforts have focused on meeting the area’s educational and human resource needs, Slow Food has aptly seen to protect the devastated local farmers and producers.

Abruzzo’s farmers and producers were significantly hurt by the quake.  Enzo and Dina Galano of the Galano Dairy Farm, for example, lost their home in the earthquake and are now forced to live in a room attached to their barn.  As if that were not enough, the quake caused severe damage to their barn and hay silo (pictured above), forcing the couple to frantically build a temporary shelter for their 60 cows before the arrival of the harsh winter weather.  Facing hardships like these, many local producers of Abruzzo are now considering tossing in the towel and abandoning their agrarian lives for the city. Such migrations of necessity, however, would significantly damage the traditions rooted in the producers’ practices.

In response, several leaders and members of the Sustain Abruzzo project to provide these local producers with the support they need.  During the month of October, Sustain Abruzzo successfully arranged for several restaurants and food and wine producers to host fundraising events for the cause.  With six events under their belts and six more in the works, the project promises to offer some much-needed aid to the Galano Dairy Farm and others.

To contribute to this effort, check out the Sustain Abruzzo web site and sign up to donate to the campaign, host a fundraising event, or offer to distribute local products of the Abruzzo region.  With the help of the Sustain Abruzzo project, the local farmers and producers of the Abruzzo region can protect and preserve their invaluable food traditions