The Upper Vinschgau Citizen‘s Cooperaitve is located in the north of Italy on the border with Austria and Switzerland. It lives in the Alps, a mountain ridge in the middle of Europe. A rural area, surrounded by mountains and characterised by intensive agricultural use of the area. While its area is characterised by cow husbandry, cereal cultivation and vegetable cultivation, the lower part of the valley is characterised by a monoculture with intensive apple cultivation. Due to climate change, the pressure to intensify the agricultural land in its area has also increased. A referendum on the ban of chemical synthetic pesticides was held as part of an approximately ten-year civil society process with many events, discussion rounds, festivals and resistance actions. 75% of the population was in favour.
The associations and groups of the society then founded a citizens' cooperative. A citizens' cooperative is a new form of cooperative that has emerged in Italy in recent years, in which members become involved in an entrepreneurial way in their own disadvantaged region. The founding capital of the members is also the starting capital for the activities. The citizens' cooperative of Mals has the task of implementing a different way of doing business, an economically and ecologically sustainable way of doing business. The citizens' cooperative shows that a different economic model is possible. In contrast to competition, efficiency and consumption, the citizen cooperative is about cooperation, sustainability, resilience, subsistence and sufficiency and the good life for all.
Specifically, it organises farmers' markets, which are also a cultural event. It runs a community stall where we sell products from many small organic farmers collectively. It delivers products for several producers. It accompanies farmers in converting their farms to organic farming and especially in selling and embedding in local markets. It took over a cheese dairy that would have been closed down and turned it into an organic cheese dairy with goat milk. With this, it sells organic goat cheese throughout the region. Currently it is working on a project on goat meat. One focus of the citizens' cooperative is cultural work. It organises a festival on sustainable regional development, cinema evenings, book presentations, exhibitions and much more. At the same time, it is working on a project to bring land into common ownership, to make it common. Currently, it is also starting activities in the tourism sector to create showcases there. An important area is the support and accompaniment of people who want to become sustainably active as entrepreneurs. The cooperative is convinced that it can only develop a region holistically and with the involvement of as many local people as possible.
Because the Upper Vinschgau Citizens' Cooperative is an economic actor, implements projects, creates jobs and added value, it is taken differently and more seriously by political and economic forces. The citizens' cooperative aims to turn ideas into interests. It involves young people, gives them the opportunity to implement meaningful projects and at the same time to develop a perspective on life and an income. The more it succeeds in implementing and materialising other forms of economic activity and networking with like-minded people, the more it strengthens the force that shows that another world is possible.