Braja was born into the surreal and difficult world of 2020, a year in which we put so much on pause, reorganized our dreams, and reset our habits, our certainties and even our alarm clocks. For me, it’s been going off at 6am, seven days a week, since last spring. Sometimes it was the tomato plants to be trimmed, other times it was the irrigation of the zucchini plants forgotten after sunset. It is hard to express how much joy, motivation and focus those plants gave me – so thriving, full of life, and unafraid to grow as the world fell apart. In moments of demotivation and disorientation, (hey, millennials, you hear me?) my go-to therapy is to dive into practicality, into actions that yield tangible results that you can see, touch, and taste. Cooking and conviviality are more capable than anything else of anchoring me to the present, to the space that surrounds me, to myself. With a degree in public relations and communication, and a family imprinting in agriculture, my trajectory has always been clear to me: Pollenzo, which luck or destiny placed just steps from my house. UniSG is a bubble, an international microcosm that refines the senses, that teaches you what real food is and lets it enter your soul. Wine was my calling, New York my destination: that must be the place, I told myself. In those brightly coloured years, I took everything that came with open arms: wonderful jobs, shared rooms and a beautiful apartment with the typical Brooklyn backyard full of love, wine & bbq. Joys and sorrows, to the point where I almost believed I had reached the finish line. Then, in March, what happened happened, and with a heart heavier than my luggage, I returned home. Yes, it took a pandemic, but it was more than that. The farmhouse where I grew up was paradoxally also the engine that had driven me so far away. 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 them alive has always been a crucial mission. Coming back was only a question of when, while there was still some hesitation about how and what.
Without strategies or business plans, it all started with the seeds; then the plants climbing up the wooden stakes to surpass me in height; then standing on a stool to pick tomatoes, or bent over the ground to cut ripe eggplants, zucchini, and peppers - delicious and abundant. This is how the first edition of Braja began, with an experimental garden that has collected and united the souls of my family and neighborhood, triggering a process that was destined to become much more. (Special thanks to Aunt Sissì for reaching where not even the stool could; Cesco for valuable advice from-garden-to-garden; my father Beppino for tilling and fertilizing despite all of us knowing his historic refusal for these activities, my mother Anna for her constant help on and off the field - and for being right, always; Nonna Giovi for the unconditional love she transmitted to me for this place; Nonno Iele, who we hope is looking down with pride to watch us work the piece of land that he left us and that is giving us 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 our farmhouse, we reflected on how many other stories like ours surrounded us – stories of small farms that were attentive to the land, many of them young, often led by women. We also want to tell their stories along with ours – and trust me when I say that a single taste of one of these products is worth much more than a thousand of my words. Oh, I almost forgot – I’m Sara, and I can’t wait to welcome you here, on the farm!