Preserving Italian Citrus Orchards - A Co-Impact Story
Imagine embarking on a flight to Italy—you would expect to find grand monuments from old civilizations and crowded tourist destinations. You would also expect to find the tasty flavors of a variety of foods in addition to pizza and gelato. And just maybe, when you leave the crowded cities behind, you might find the brilliant green leaves and aroma of Italian citrus trees.
Unfortunately, after facing years of economic downturn, many growers have been forced to abandon their orchards. doTERRA’s Co-Impact Sourcing™ now plays a major role in facilitating many family-run operations to reopen, continue production on their orchards, and preserve a special part of Italian culture. Through sourcing Lemon and Bergamot from the orchards of Sicily and Reggio di Calabria, doTERRA® has been able to positively affect the Italian economy in many ways. This region is home to some of the hardiest and most enthusiastic people in Italy, and though they struggle economically at times, they have precious resources to offer the world.
The people of Sicily proudly identify themselves as Siciliani—and the pride they exhibit in their heritage is contagious. This pride also spreads to their work. Salvatore (Reno) and Roberto Amedeo work together in their family’s fourth generation lemon business. In the face of the poor economy in Italy, Roberto’s wife, Cecilia, researched American essential oil companies online to find ways to keep their business going. When she came across doTERRA, she says she “felt something special about it.” Following this feeling, she emailed Emily Wright, hoping for a response. For Emily, the email stuck out to her and she decided to reply. As they corresponded, a fast-growing friendship was born.
When she first visited Italy, Emily found a family committed to constant improvement of their essential oil quality and relationships of trust were formed. When she returned to Italy seven months later with Dr. Hill, the magnitude of how many growers and pickers would benefit through doTERRA’s Co-impact Sourcing initiatives became evident. For the Amedeo family, this meant providing jobs that would not only stimulate a suffering economy, but also keep their country’s citrus heritage alive.
Giovanni, the father and third generation citrus producer, had professional equipment installed when he was a young man, which dramatically improved production levels and still ensured a high standard of quality. Salvatore, who oversees oil production and grower relations, shares, “From 1850 to 1890 everything was done by hand. It’s much easier with modern machinery to produce more essential oil without losing any quality.” Roberto, the chemist of the family who oversees quality assurance, further illustrates, “It used to take my father plus 50 men a whole season to do what we are able to do now in a single day.”
A Fourth Generation Business
The Amedeo family, aside from their own orchard, also source lemons and bergamot fruits from many growers in Sicily and Calabria. Overall, the Amedeo family estimates that their production has grown around 45 percent since partnering with doTERRA®. Lemons are sourced from an area of about 865 acres, and bergamot from about 250 acres in Reggio di Calabria from many other family growers with the same level of passion and commitment. Alfredo, a partner lemon grower, says you can tell the quality of a Sicilian lemon just by smelling it. Passionate about his heritage, he insists, “A lemon isn’t a lemon unless it is Sicilian.” Alfredo took over an abandoned orchard and now has created many jobs for people in the area that otherwise would have emigrated to the northern part of the country or left Italy altogether.
In Reggio di Calabria, the “toe of the boot” of Italy, bergamot flourishes in the only place on Earth it is grown. Unique among citrus plants, bergamot produces a very sweet essential oil, although it is bitter as a fruit. Salvatore is the caretaker of a beautiful bergamot orchard. He knows every single tree—when it was planted and how much fruit it bears. Salvatore started helping his father in the groves when he was young, and it quickly became his passion as he grew. He says, “I know I love this work because I do it even when it rains.” Salvatore and his fellow workers harvest bergamot twice a year from March to April and then again in June. Salvatore also organizes many other bergamot growers to help not only supply the demand doTERRA has for Bergamot, but to ensure that they have consistent work and receive a fair wage.
The goals of each grower in Italy intertwine with the purposes of Co-Impact Sourcing. Salvatore Amedeo’s passion lies in taking care of people and creating jobs to help the economy. Roberto is passionate about quality; he analyzes each and every batch, running over 3,000 Gas Chromatograms a year. The quality of the Lemon and Bergamot essential oil is possible because of the Amedeo family’s commitment to the people they work with and their careful attention to the preservation of the orchards.
doTERRA has an exclusive partnership with the Amedeo family, ensuring quality essential oil and jobs in Italy for years to come.
Bergamot was originally introduced to Reggio di Calabria from the Canary Islands. Grown on the hillsides, Bergamot thrives in this ideal climate. The acidic soil and the fresh ocean air help strengthen the trees, producing a fruit perfect for capturing the therapeutic benefits of Bergamot essential oil.