Working the landscape – Terraces and dry-stone walls between identity and valuesCembra, May 4, 2013‘TERRACES ADOPTION’ PROJECT:LOOKING TO FIND A SUITABLE CONTEMPORARY USEDanilo Cecchini, Luca Lodatti, Cinzia ZontaComitato ‘Adotta un terrazzamento in Canale di Brenta’
‘Terraces Adoption’ - Project Overview:The Brenta Canal Area-Some geographic references:- Valley Lenght: 22 Km- Valley Average Width: 4 Km- Surface square Km:- Main towns: 7 municipalities (Bassano del Grappa,Campolongo sul Brenta, Cismon del Grappa, Pove, Solagna,Sdfsafan Nazario, Valstagna)- Population: 11.389 (2001)To the right; 1:50000 IGM Chart of thearea of study (IGM, 1970)On top, encircled: the area of study,within a map of the Veneto Region
‘Terraces Adoption’ - Project Overview:Few hints on the area’s history and evolution-To the right : Two historic pictures portraying Valstagna in the firstdecades of the 20th Century (Collezione Todesco)A short history of the Brenta Canal:- In ancient times it was a transit roadconnecting the Padano-venetian Plain toNorthern Europe. In the moern age itbecame a junction point for lumbertradebetween Venice and the AsiagoPlateau- From the 18th up until the 20th Century,tobacco plantations were present in thearea. The construction of the first terraces(locally known as ‘masiere’) goes backto the same period construction of tedella coltivazione del tabacco e(localmente ‘masiere’). The total lenghtof those valley slopes on which theterraces were erected reach 230 km.- In the aftermath of WWII tobaccoproduction plummeted and many townslocated on the steep slopes of the valleywere progressively abandoned,- Today, only few of buildings are stillinhabited, and most of the valleypopulation concentrates in the valleybed.
-‘Terraces Adoption’ - Project Overview: The Brenta Canal todayFour recentphotographs ofthe area ofstudy
The project has its roots in a number ofinitiatives that, since the early 2000s,promoted the study of the Brenta Canalarea’s terraces, and supported theirvalorisation. Such initiatives have broughtpublic attention back to topics such aslandscape value of terraces and their rolein preventing hydro-geological hazards:- The inauguration of the etnographicmuseum ‘Canal di Brenta’ in Valstagna(2003)- The publication of the volume ‘Men andLandscapes from the Brenta Canal’ (Percoand Varotto, 2004)- The activities of research and mapping,included in the European Project ALPTER‘Alpine Arc’s Terraced Landscapes’ (2005-2008)- The inauguration of the hiking track ‘TheHigh Road of Tobacco’ (2010)‘Terraces Adoption’ - Project Overview: Previous experiences ofterraces research and valorisation
-Two retired schoolteachers fromiBassano del Grappaasked the ValstagnaMunicipality forpermission to restorea terrace in order tocultivate vegetablesand flowers (2009).‘Terraces Adoption’ - The Project:Inspired by chance
‘Terraces Adoption’ - The Project: Management structure‘Terraces Adoption’ has been developed startingfrom spontaneous initiatives:- A Committee in charge of managing theproject’s activities has been instituted-Partners of the Committee are the Municipalityof Valstagna, the University of Padua, the CAIsection of Bassano del Grappa, numerous localresidents, and the tenants of the terraces- The Committee functions as intermediarybetween owners of the terraces and thetenants/partners who cultivate and maintainthem.To the right: The ‘Adopt a Terrace in the Brenta Canal Area’Committee’s first meeting,Valstagna Town Hall, October 2010CLUB ALPINOITALIANOCOMUNEDI VALSTAGNAUNIVERSITA DI PADOVASome potential obstacles to asuccessful adoption and recovery ofthe terraces:-The fragmentation of ownership-Negotiations with owners-Agreeing on shared maintenanceand construction techniques-Agreeing on shared overallframework for management
‘Terraces Adoption’ - The Project:The Free-of-Charge Leasing AgreementA legal leasingagreement wasproduced by theCommittee,outlining rightsand obligationsfor the partiesinvolved (obligationto keep vegetationunder control, obl. toan acceptable andresponsible use,Ususcaption right ofownership)Above: Leasing Agreement and Annexed Use Regulations (Elaborati in collaboration with the University ofPadua, Department of Labour and Private Law, 2010)
‘Terraces Adoption’ - The Project:Pilot-attempts at terraces recoveringTwo terraced sites were chosen to begin the activities of recovery and maintenance. The first,Contrada Ponte Subiolo, was easily accessible, while the second, Val Verta, was a terracingmore at risk of ruin and collapse.Next, more sites entered the project, to reach a total number of 9.Birds-eyephotographs of thepilote sites of PonteSubiolo (to the right)and Val Verta (left).THe areas coloured inblue indicate theareas recoveredthroughout theproject(Guido Mediciphotos, image-editingby the author)
-After two and a half years, the figures are: 80 project partners involved, 96terraces reconverted to the cultivation of vegetables. Terraces wereadopted in 9 municipalities. 40% of tenants/cultivators come from the mainurban centers in the area (Bassano, Rosà, Marostica, 40% ca), but also fromVicenza, Mirano, Dolo, and Venice. Over the last months the percentage ofyoung cultivators has increased (25% approx.), and so has the number ofassociation involved (mostly social cooperatives) The Agricultural InstituteParolini of Bassano has also become involved.‘Terraces Adoption’ - The Project:Results achieved between October 2010 and May 2013
‘Terraces Adoption’ - The Project:A first example of cultivation recoveryBelow, an example of recovery. Yet, today we possess more direct testimonies…
Casarette ProjectA social and agricultural redevelopmentpattern for the terraced areas ofValstagna and the Brenta Canal
Sites of uncertainty: the Casarette terraceshave lost their historical role and function(intensive tabacco cultivation, animalfarming, subsistence agriculture,maintenance of the territory)Sites of indecision the Casarette area wascut out, ever since the 1960s, from decision-making in the dimension of agriculturalproduction, landscape maintenance, socialintegration and cultural heritagevalorisation.Sites of reflection. Abandoned sites suggesta multitude of questions. Our fundamentaldilemma is: simple recovery or arearedevelopment?Sites of abandonement are sites of uncertainty
Recovery:It links to memory and harkensback to a formaltraditionalism. It looks at thepast and fixes a close ansstatic structure. Recoveriestypically aim to definingpatterns of cultural heritageredevelopment. We considersuch approach only partiallyuseful: it can lead to socio-culturally concrete andactive results only in veryspecific situations.Recovery and Redevelopment are conceptsinextricably linked to our present. Yet, the two termsopen to quite different future developments:
Redevelopmente:It links to memory, yet it alsopresents itself as a project thatendorses and nurtures the sitespotentiala, from a productiveo,sociale, and cultural perspectivee.Redevelopment thus looks at thefuture, while relying on an open anddynamic structurea. Due to its focuson dynamism and on maximizingthe areas potentialo,redevelopment places itself withinthe historic process of interactionbetween tradition ed innovatione.
The Casarette Project: towards a stableand sustainable settlement, under ahuman and environmental perspectiveCasarette presents itselfas an open (thus readyto involve at any timenew environmentallysustainable proposals)and modular structure(thus composed ofmany integrated, andyet autonomous and self-sufficient modules).Our terraces re-development project isultimately aimed atestablishing a didacticfarm.
The didactic farm - Re-developmentMATERIAL:Re-activaton of the terraces.- Re-start cultivation:experimentation inplantations. New plantationsshall not be specialized in onecrop, but rather oriented topersonal consumption, one-to-one trade, small-scalecommerce.- Preservation of the naturaland environmental balance,that often hinges onsustainability of thecultivated/not-cultivated landratio.- Prevention from hydro-geological hazards.- Local buildingsredevelopment
Maximum (if not exclusive) use ofon-site materials and resources.The active involvement of locallabour-force will prove essential.Non-invasive installation of solarpanels, in pursuit of energyindependence.Small-scale bee-keepingenterprise to be started in 2014.Establishment of infrastructures tobe devoted to local-aware small-scale tourism (a form of tourismfavoured by the non-existence oftransit roads and consequentimpossibilty of reaching Casaretteby car).
SOCIAL:Development of relationships under thebasis of participation, exchange andsharing:with other actors: (individuals or groups)who are part of a broader andcomprehensive understanding of Adopta Terrace (services, materials,equipment, seeds, other..). SOciability,knowledge and practices exchange.with the town of Valstagna: communitywhere we feel always integrated andwelcome. For instance, support of localworkforce in gathering and structuringskills needed to implement the localprojects, reactivation of dwells andopening of trails.activation of relatinships with otherrealities, working together with otherprojects focused on uman andenvironmental sustainability (responsibleconsumption, seeds exchange, ancientseeds search, respect for the dignity ofliving creatures, and so on..)
CULTURAL:Preparation of a little section of aterrace for the cultivation oftobacco , as well as theconstruction of a space followingthe traditional model for tobaccodrying and manufacturing.Creation of a space within a culturalcentre for the promotion ofmountain culture , human andenvironmental sustainability,experimentation in crop-growingtechniques and ecologicallivestock breeding and life-style.Establishment of a Seed Bank : for theautonomy, exchange and thepreservation of biodiversityPromotion of activities in localschools: small conferences,guided tours.Field research : anthropological+agricultural experimentation;alpine culture; tradition andinnovation, historic memory.
ECONOMIC:Construction of a contextthat supports minimumwage earnings.Valuation of publicproperty: common spacesare commonopportunities