MadreProject: Davide Longoni tells us about his new project, a school dedicated to bread and places

The idea, launched by association Terzo Paesaggio in partnership with the Milanese baker, was presented a few days ago with some public events. The training will start in Chiaravalle in the autumn

14-03-2022
by Niccolò Vecchia

Scuola del Pane e dei Luoghi, literally the school of bread and places, is an intriguing definition. It's the description that was chosen for MadreProject, a new project that is about to be launched in Milan, and which was presented to the public a few days ago, before its official debut in the autumn of 2022. 

But what is MadreProject and who invented it? Quoting the website dedicated to the project, "it's the first school that invites people to look at bread as a medium to recreate a positive relationship with places. But it's also the first school that suggests that to regenerate a city you need to 'put your finger in the pie', because design is making". Hence the Scuola del Pane e dei Luoghi will offer high level courses for aspiring bread entrepreneurs; training for urban regenerators; educational spaces for those who need a change.

They start from bread, from the ancient and contemporary craftmanship required by bread, to develop a new generation of artisans who will also regenerate territories and activate communities: reinventing the bakery of the future as a cultural centre of proximity. Ambitious and fascinating. 

Davide Longoni

Davide Longoni

The project was created by non-profit organisation Terzo Paesaggio, which launches cultural-based regeneration projects in partnership with Avanzi - Sostenibilità per Azioni, which works in sustainability and urban innovation. Most of all, this project is guided by master baker Davide Longoni, a point of reference in Italian contemporary bread-making, and the co-founder of the P.A.U. Panificatori Agricoli Urbani movement.

We talked about MadreProject with Davide Longoni, who first of all told us about how he came up with the project: «Since the beginning, I've always trained bakers. Artisans, by nature, train new artisans: it's the profound essence of the very Italian concept of workshop [bottega]. Eight of my ex-employees have opened a bakery over the years: it's a gratification that proves that I've worked well. Today I receive many curriculums from people who want to learn this profession, which used to be considered as a very sacrificing and hard work, and is now a contemporary career, fascinating, and even cool. They come from California, Denmark, and Italy. Given all these requests, I wondered if perhaps I shouldn't open a school».

The fields of wheat in Chiaravalle

The fields of wheat in Chiaravalle

Adding new energy to the project was the arrival of Andrea Perini of Terzo Paesaggio: «I met Andrea a few years ago – continues Longoni – because of a project connecting cities and food. We later became partners of a farm that grows wheat, 12 hectares in Chiaravalle. It's not an ordinary plot: the fact it's so close to Milan generated a relationship between city and countryside, giving new meaning to the agricultural landscape of south Milan that had been abandoned for many years. Instead, it's very fascinating having this fertile soil south of a big city like Milan».

From this initial collaboration, and from this fertile soil, was born the idea of MadreProject. Davide Longoni continues: «The school will firstly be a practical school, where people can learn to make bread, how to become a professional baker, but we also want to keep a constant connection with each end of the supply chain. At one end, by exploring the relationship with the land and with the countryside, the idea of an agricultural regeneration, the making of a sustainable agriculture in fields that must be preserved in their fertility. The area of Chiaravalle, a classic example of reclamation which was conducted by the Benedictine monks, has been fertile for 1000 years: we intend to keep it as such, avoiding chemicals and instead applying the good practice of plot rotation and of organic farming. At the other end, we must discuss the supply chain: hence the relationship with cities, because for a workshop to be open, it must be located in an urban context that is willing to accept it. This means understanding  the neighbourhoods, their needs, being open to local cultural experiences: this is what I've done over the years, opening shops in which we didn't just sell bread but we tried to find our place in the local society».

It is for this reason that at MadreProject there will also be lessons on urbanistic studies, sociology, anthropology. The educational offer will involve a small number of people because, as Longoni points out, «they must have the chance to make lots of bread. We plan to make 100 kg per day, with around 10-12 students. It will be a start-up; we want to start in the best way. We're thinking of how to create our market space, and indeed we will also have a small shop selling our bread, on top of giving it to charities like Pane Quotidiano. This first week will be a full immersion, a sort of prototype during which we will think about bread form 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.. With many guests: wine producers, university professors, chefs, to imagine together our school. Among the guest-teachers, there will be an important chef like Antonia Klugmann, other colleague-bakers from Milan like Aurora Zancanaro from Le Polveri or Giovanni Mineo from Crosta, and from elsewhere, like Pasquale Polito from Forno Brisa».

On top of the first intense lessons dedicated to those who have already enrolled in this "prototype" of MadreProject, the programme includes also other events open to the public.

For more info: madreproject@terzopaesaggio.org - https://madreproject.org/

Translated by Slawka G. Scarso


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