The Italian Job, Coop Style
For two weeks at the beginning of July we were very lucky to have a visitor all the way from Italy. Linda Casani is a member of Iris Cooperativa Agricola, based in the North of Italy near Cremona in the Parco Regionale Oglio Sud.
Iris are an Organic Pasta manufacturer who since 2010 have been working in partnership with us to bring you our Suma Organic Pasta range.
They are run as workers cooperative with similar ethical beliefs and working practices as Suma. They were formed around the same time too, in 1978, by a group of young men and women keen to work together to gain agricultural experience without the use of chemical fertilizers.
Ever since a chance meeting which lead to the collaboration, Suma and Iris have developed a much-valued partnership. As part of this we invited Linda to come and see how our cooperative works and to spend some time working here in sunny Yorkshire. Linda has been working for Iris for 10 years and now heads up their sales team.
Rather than send her to a hotel, Suma members Wendy, Paul and myself all opened up our houses to allow Linda to truly experience English home comforts.
In her first week at Suma Linda spent some time talking to members of each department, getting to know what they do and how they all fit together, whilst also learning English pretty much from scratch! She also experienced life on the road with Suma driver Kate on the West Yorkshire run, which included a rattling drive through the cobbled streets of Howarth dodging hanging baskets.
The following week she got to work writing a comprehensive report for her fellow members back in Italy. She also joined a few of us at the Halifax Courier Community Spirit Awards to celebrate local community hero’s.
All in all it was a fairly whirlwind trip, although we did get out on a few local walks and meals out too. The trip ended with a quick visit to Rochdale on Linda’s last day, home of the first cooperative movement in the UK, and finished off with lunch at 8th Day Cooperative in Manchester, who have been a workers cooperative since 1978.
Not only did Linda learn all about our unique business model, she also provided us with in depth knowledge of all things pasta related, and how Iris works as a cooperative too. We look forward to our ongoing relationship with Iris as we continue to develop the range, and really value Linda’s input in to this. We are also hoping to be able to visit Iris in the future to gain first hand experience from their successful organisation.
We will miss you Linda, keep in touch!
Becs and all at Suma