Braja was born in this 2020 so surreal and impossible. A year in which we paused a lot, we sorted out dreams in the drawer, resetting certainties and habits, even the alarm clock. As of last spring, it started playing at 6am, 7/7 for me. Sometimes it was the tomatoes to be removed, other times it was the zucchini water forgotten at sunset. It's hard to tell how much joy, motivation and focus those lush seedlings gave me, full of life, undaunted to grow as the world fell apart. In moments of demotivation and disorientation ( hey, millennials, you hear me? ) my infallible shock therapy is to dive into practicality, into actions that give tangible results, which you see, touch, taste. More than anything else, cooking and conviviality are capable of anchoring me to the present, to the space that surrounds me, to myself. With a degree in PR and Communication and a family imprinting in agriculture, my trajectory had seemed clear to me: Pollenzo, luckily or fate would have it, was a stone's throw from home. UniSG is a bubble, an international microcosm that sharpens the senses, that teaches what real food is and lets it enter your soul. Wine is my calling, New York my destination; that must be the place , I tell myself. In those years in very vivid colors I take everything that comes with open arms: splendid jobs and cruel managers, shared rooms and apartments with gardens, joys and sorrows, to the point where I almost believe I have reached the finish line. Then, in March, what happened happened, and with a heart heavier than too much luggage to move I returned home. Did it take a pandemic? Also, but not only. The farmhouse where I grew up was paradoxically the engine that drove me so far. In this corner of Piedmont historically dedicated to agriculture, this house and farm in the center of the town are an extraordinary historical testament; keeping it alive has always been a crucial mission. Returning was only a matter of when, while there was still some hesitation about how and what.
Without predefined strategies and business plans, it all started with the seeds, then the plants that climb the wooden "paluc" up to surpassing me in height, then picking the tomatoes standing on the stool, or bending over to cut aubergines , courgettes and well-ripe peppers, which are many, too many and too good. The zero edition of Braja was born like this: with an experimental vegetable garden that gathered and united the souls of my family and the neighborhood, triggering a process that wants and knows it is much more (a special mention goes to Aunt Sissì for being arrived where not even the stool could; Cesco for the precious garden-to-garden advice; father Beppino for the milling and fertilizing despite the fact that we all knew his historical refusal for these activities; mother Anna for the constant help in and outside the field - and for being right, always ; Nonna Giovi for the unconditional love she passed on to me for this place; to Nonno Iele, whom we hope from up there will proudly watch us work on that piece of land that he left us and is still giving away so much; Nonno Gianni and Nonna Gianna because without Salina, parmigiana, caponata and cannoli I would never have understood how good the taste of life is).
When we decided to share the fruits of our work outside the walls of the farmhouse, we reflected on how many other stories like ours surrounded us and deserved a voice. Stories of small farms attentive to the territory, often young, in some cases led by women. Together with ours, we also want to tell theirs, and believe me when I say that a single taste of these gems is worth much more than my thousand words.
Oh, I almost forgot: I'm Sara,
and I can't wait to welcome you here, at the farmhouse!