The Drago of the Metalliferous Hills (https://associazionedrago.eu/) was initially set up as a cereal chain able to offer the market excellent quality products, useful to its member companies and to the enhancement of the territory. In order to support this objective, European funds from the Rural Development Programme of the Region of Tuscany (Fears 2014 – 2020) were used, drawing up the programme for the assignment of the Call for Proposals (PIF – Progetti Integrati di Filiera – Chain Integrated Projects) in collaboration with professionals from various scientific fields. Participation in the Call for Proposals was also the first concrete collaboration between the companies and the Parco delle Colline Metallifere and an opportunity to establish a functional dialogue to achieve common objectives for and with the territory.
The success of the first experience as a cereal chain and the reflections obtained from the collaboration with professionals from various sectors made it possible to understand the great potential of creating multidisciplinary projects. The main aim was to create a truly sustainable economy based on the peculiarities of the territory. The Association was founded in 2018 with the aim not only of supporting and creating supply chains of several types of production, but also of devising and promoting multidisciplinary projects useful for guiding consumers’ lifestyles towards safeguarding their health and the environment. The creation of a network of collaborations with Tuscan university teams in the agri-food, biomedical and archaeological sectors and with associations active in the area has enabled the Association to contribute to the organisation and implementation of important research projects. Through specialised personnel, we organise educational activities and dissemination projects that offer stakeholders not only basic concepts, but also in-depth studies and updates derived from the studies of the institutes with which they are in contact, and the dissemination of regional initiatives such as the “Coltivatori Custodi” project, which many of the Drago’s members have decided to join.
The DRAGO’s centre of gravity lies within the area of the Metallliferous Hills and the surrounding coastline. This is an area that has not been affected by large-scale modern urbanisation thanks to its agricultural vocation, whose inhabitants have managed to preserve a lifestyle intimately linked to the value of the land and its respect, based on ancient traditions that are not in line with the rules imposed by a market that has become extremely competitive. The association’s mission is to invest in the territory’s strengths (environment, agriculture, culture and landscape), to protect the landscape and environmental heritage and to meet employment needs.