Matteo, the 14-year-old farmer who spends the summer looking after the school’s garden

Matteo Viada is 14 years old, but he already knows that his future is nature, or rather agriculture. When Vilma Margherita Bertola asked him to look after the school garden all summer, when the director of the Giolitti di Dronero comprehensive institute at the eighth grade exam did not think about. So once or twice a week, depending on the work to be done, he gets on his bike, runs the kilometers that separate him from the institute, and once there, he waters, chops, sows and collects . The one Matteo takes care of is one of the gardens that the institute, which has 4 kindergartens, seven elementary schools and two middle schools in 7 different municipalities, has created thanks to the Outdoor Education Project. But taking care of it during the summer was a problem, so Matteo’s engagement enthusiastically accepted.

«When I’m there I’m busy watching the garden grow and time flies, for example yesterday I saw three aubergines that weren’t there last week. I also milled to make salad mounds. Then you have to wet the soil often, it is free of mineral salts and very hard due to the heat”, says Matteo.

He knows what he’s talking about. He grew up in the family business in Villar San Costanzo, where he spends time watching his father and learning as soon as he can. His dream is to keep the business going unlike his sisters more than twice his age who have chosen different paths. But first he wants to get an education: in September he will start his studies at the agricultural institute in Verzuolo, «I hope to be able to organize my studies and not have to give up the school garden».

He tells this on the phone while he is busy with his father picking potatoes, which are scarce because of the heat but “we take what is from the ground, it can’t be done otherwise”, his father explains. He is happy with Matteo’s passion, «since he was a child, he used to come with me, he has always liked this world. But you have to be persistent. I expect him to come back from school in September and tell me that I have everything wrong – smiles his father Enzo – at that time I will be happy to learn from him’. Matteo also goes to the company at 6 in the morning, from there at 8.30 he goes to school by bicycle, where the school staff or the manager himself are waiting for him to let him in. And when, as in recent days, he was by the sea or next week he is going to School Camp, he organizes the work so as not to make the garden suffer.

«The landscape makes me feel good, not even a small allergy to grass will stop me. I have never seen myself 8 hours in front of the PC, with the lockdown it was difficult’. And with the mates? «They don’t share my passion too much, even at school they often criticized me, not everyone understands, but after so many teasings I learned to ignore it and not think about it. People must do what they want”, he repeats.

A little time passes on the social media, he publishes a few photos, those that symbolize his life, like when, after the birth of his grandson, he traveled over 60 kilometers by bike to the Sant’Anna di Vinadio sanctuary to donate a bow. Behind the family who followed him with the motorhome. Or moments of the harvest on the farm.

«I knew about Matteo’s great passion for this, I asked him, he is proactive and approachable – says the manager -. I thought he would do it a few times and then with the summer maybe he would have preferred to use the time in a different way, instead he keeps coming on time and dedicates himself, he has created a tool to plant salads and cabbage, he has also placed a tap in the tub so as not to waste water, so precious at the moment’. In a few weeks he collected courgettes, aubergines, ribs, tomatoes, “for now – continues the manager – we distribute them among the staff, but there are intentions to create stalls, as well as a project with the Dronero hotel school to allow our students to discover the transformation of our products. The outdoor education project was co-financed by Cuneo savings bank, and we intend to continue along the way ».

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