[Pacicca's] 1,200 trees are his livelihood. One morning this summer, he was shocked to find 13 of them had been hacked to the ground.
"It was like a kick in the stomach," he says. "Look at them. I don't think it was an accident that they chose the most visible ones, closest to the road. Maybe someone was trying to teach me a lesson."
Pacicca is pretty sure who that was: the 'Ndrangheta, the region's organized crime group. Typically when they attack a farmer, they'll do it again and again, until the farmer pays protection money and vows loyalty.
But that's not what Pacicca did.
"We cried out: Enough! This can't go on any longer with this mafia system," he says. "That's the idea behind GOEL."
* * *
"They chopped down 13 trees, so we planted twice as many, 26," says Vincenzo Linarello, the founder of GOEL Bio. "The idea is to send a message right away that they can't stop us. And we'll get up stronger every time they strike. They work by sending signals. So we need to send a signal."Another Italian agriculture story, this one in the New York Times about saving heirloom fruit trees, is here.