The productive and sustainable gardens of the Radicepura Garden Festival

We have traditionally connected gardens with the idea of contemplation, idleness, stasis, and our aimless, meditative wandering. But could a garden be also a productive environment and combine beauty with utility? This is indeed a key topic in an era permeated by sustainability and the main theme of the new edition of the Radicepura Garden Festival. This international event, the first one held in the Mediterranean area devoted to garden design and landscape architecture, is sponsored by Enel Energia and remains open until October 27 on the slopes of Etna, in Sicily.

This international gardening biennial, now in its second edition, summons designers, architects, institutions, businesses, tourists and enthusiasts to this corner of eastern Sicily: it is a unique event in its kind. The only comparable events would be the Chelsea Flower Show in London and the International Garden Festival of Chaumont-sur-Loire, among the castles of France. Still, there is no meeting of this sort in Italy nor anywhere else in southern Europe, where Mediterranean, tropical and subtropical botanical varieties, can be showcased and explored at length. The Festival itself has a long history that starts with Piante Faro, the first family nursery and parent company born 45 years ago, and continues three generations later with the Faro Group, a now solid and international business, with five thousand varieties cultivated and exported to 60 countries in the world.

In Radicepura and in the history of the original group, we find many of the values that inspire Enel Energia's work. In fact, the Garden Festival is a reality that branches out all over the world but with firm roots in the territory and its origins, first and foremost promoting the natural heritage of Sicilian region. For it is in the tenacity and passion required to grow and tend to gardens that we find the indefatigable focus that, on a different scale, Enel Energia places on protecting the planet to ensure clean energy for families and businesses.

Trees, plants, natural heritage always hold a lesson for us. It was from this belief that the call for productive gardens emerged, which saw 150 projects from all over the world converge onto Sicily. The twelve chosen ideas were set up for the Festival and explore the variety of solutions conceived by garden designers to adapt gardens to climate change, which produce not only emotions, sensations, smells, taste, but also the resources necessary for its existence, like the water of the project by Italians Lorenzo Decembrini and Ilaria Tabarani.

Culture, flavours and art are mixed in the ecosystem of the Festival, thanks to an extensive programme that includes a film festival (Garden in movies short film festival, from 2 to 4 August), a literary review, concerts and educational workshops . In short, the whole festival becomes in turn a large productive garden, full of ideas, sketches, suggestions, visions. One of the oldest botanical archetypes is the garden of Alcinoo , the king of the Phaeacians mentioned by Homer in the Odyssey: the space of eternal spring in which fruit and vegetables grew all year round. Very much like that myth, the challenge of this edition of Radicepura is to transform a myth into reality, designing spaces that can as "productive" as Alcinoo garden. This is the rationale for our support to Radicepura: the idea of putting imagination, innovation and research at the service of an ambitious vision of the future based on sustainability, gardens and energy.