Conversations with Stefano Lunardi who lauched ErbaVoglio, a project based in Aosta and focused on cheese, preserving mountains beauty and enhancing of local communities.
"I started from this abandoned dairy in the heart of Aosta in order to follow my dream: enhancing high quality cheeses from small and local producers". This is how Stefano started to tell me about his story while he was serving the last client of the day. He will surely go back home happy, intrigued by all the aromas released from the cheeses in th shop.
He turned off the lights: it's now closed. "Please, follow me in the basement".
Everything in the place seemed in hibernation and I tried to stay quiet to not breaking the perfect silence in the room. We mooved in the other room for the cheese tasting paired with a Petite Arvine of a small, local producer. Just few bottles, for special occasion like this one.
"My accademic background is focused on Forest Services, then I started to work for a small company. I've always wanted to do something to bring value for my land and I couldn't stop thinking about cheese". Then he explained that the mountains abandonement is a serious problem that is leading to the closure of the smallest companies and their marginalisation. It's too difficult and expensive for them to compete with the big corporates.
Stefano continues to follow his dream patiently his dream, always smiling. "During the early 2000s I started to check the composition of the grazing land in order to understand the relation wit the quality of the cheese. We basically wanted to create an identity card of cheeses to identify the best cru, as it has been done for the wine.
In this way both producers and consumers can recognize the quality of their cheeses by knowing the history and the origin behind.
Until now the project is still not complete, but Stefano doesn't give up. Thanks to the support of some investors he built the Val D'Avas km 0 association, a group of small producers who had one main goal: improving the territorial marketing through tasting, events and education. "I think the local development come from every actor in the food chain. "
Finally, in 2011 Stefano had the chance to buy an ancient dairy in the city centre of Aosta. "I started to think: it's now or never. I called Prof. Cavallero, one of the most important pastures expert, and we decided to ho hiking and talk talk about launching ErbaVoglio. Is this madness? Yes, but also persistence. I started without any business plan but after years of research the company is finally growing up fast. Soon we will launch "Ranquefleur": the first cheese with an identity card. This project involve a limited production of 240 shapes of cheeses from 20 cows in 20 selected pastures"
It's now late and we have to say goodbye. While leaving I check my smartphone and a post poped up: " No one can forced be to be happy in his own way. Immanuel Kant". Maybe I got it. Stefano's story it's not just a matter of cheese. It teaches us to feed our dreams, to follow them and decide to act. With a pinch of madness and perseverance.