Interview with Sara Armellino and Elisa Core “Le Langhette”.
The origins of the farm in Saliceto
A few words about you, who are you, where did you come from, and what did you do before embarking on the journey with Le Langhette?
Elisa Core was born in Savona on January 31, 1977. After scientific high school, she began her university studies with a degree in Economics and Business in Genoa. Married with two children, she lives in Saliceto in the old house of her grandparents, in a small hamlet surrounded by fields and woods. Before her lucky encounter, she worked in her father’s accounting office, but on weekends she would buy milk and transform it into cheese, experimenting and refining her technique.
Sara Armellino was born in Ceva on November 28, 1986. She grew up in Saliceto playing in the streets of the village and exploring the streams. As she grew up, her passion for nature grew, so much so that she chose the Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Sciences in Turin. During her studies and afterwards, many opportunities to come into direct contact with animals presented themselves: thesis projects, a lady who needed a hand milking her sheep, a small family farm of rabbits… And so the dream of going to live in the old farmhouse where her grandfather was born and to be able to enhance it became bigger and bigger. But after two experiences abroad and jobs that did not satisfy her, she had not yet reached her goal. Now she is married with two children.
A dairy in the Alta Langa born from love for the places of origin
What does Le Langhette do?
Le Langhette, a simple agricultural company, was born as a multifunctional company, we mainly raise sheep and goats and then transform the milk directly into cheese in our laboratory.
We raise sheep of the Delle Langhe breed (called Langhette and hence our name) and of the Lacon breed. The Lacon breed is a typical breed of the Alta Langhe that is on the verge of extinction. Together with other breeders in the area and representative associations, we are implementing strategies to recover and enhance it.
Breeding and cheesemaking are the starting point of our company. We immediately included the word multifunctionality in our statute because, like the farms of the past, ours also has other related activities: raising chickens, growing vegetables, hazelnuts and lavender, and we will have others.
What’s the idea behind this project? How did it come about?
The idea behind this project is to enhance our places: our territory, the meadows, the houses, the people! Because we like being here, we love our village and we want to tell and make it known to everyone! We love the tranquility, the serenity of nature and its rhythms and we want to pass them on to our children.
So we built a job that allows us to have all this, and since we are both passionate about cheese, breeding and processing milk was the ideal solution.
What about your collaboration? How did you become partners?
We didn’t know each other! A mutual friend put us in touch…we were both telling her about our dream which was very similar and so she introduced us! We talked one evening, November 10, 2015 to be precise(!), and we liked each other, we liked our ideas and it all started from there. The regional PSR call for settlement made us tighten up because it was expiring, and in May 2016 we formed the company also to be able to participate in the call.
What has been the evolutionary process of your company?
Our company was born basically from nothing, in that neither of us had any family members already in the business. Fortunately Sara’s father had an old farmhouse with a small stable still used for this purpose and we were able to use it for our first animals (about thirty sheep). As for the transformation, we started in a room, also owned by Sara’s family, in a block of flats located on the provincial road, with the aim of later renovating a building to be used as a new laboratory and building a new stable.
With the passing of time, however, we realized that we would have had to sustain investments that were too onerous and we decided to improve the places where we already practiced. Of great help was the first prize of 30,000 euros, which we won in 2016 by participating in the Restartalp call by Fondazione Garrone and Cariplo. It allowed us to make the first important investments to adapt the barn and the dairy, and every year we have carried out some small jobs to improve the facilities and buy new equipment.
We are constantly evolving, we always have new ideas, now for example we also sell eggs produced by our chickens, roasted hazelnuts (grown by us), lavender essential oil (always from our fields), woolen handicrafts…
Passion for one’s work as the driving force behind everything
What’s your strength?
Our strong point is our passion for this work, it doesn’t weigh us down and offers many opportunities, the world of agriculture is really very diverse and for women like us full of ideas and desire to do is the best sector, we like what we do and how we do it and the results we get give us great satisfaction.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced along the way?
The challenges have actually been many:
Starting from scratch, just from scratch, investing everything: time and money in the company
Not finding the proper support from the trade associations that discouraged us or called us the “cheese poets”
Elisa’s young children, Sara’s two pregnancies
Being two female entrepreneurs in a very male-oriented sector
The various bureaucratic vicissitudes…
Perhaps having to deal with 30 sheep and goats that have grown to about 70, managing the farm in good and bad weather, processing, and selling the cheeses by creating a new market of customers … was the easiest part!
The future of the “Langhette”, between the desire for growth and respect for values
Where do you see yourselves in a few years? What goals do you want to achieve?
In a few years we will see ourselves grazing with our sheep and goats, as we thought at the beginning when we were designing our company. This would mean that we have created a sustainable reality, of having what we need and following the rhythms of nature, without rushing and without stress
We are getting closer to our ideals, the company is becoming fully operational, since this year we have been able to hire a boy, who working with us allows us to better take care of the various steps of production and have more time for our families.
The objectives for now are to make our company known by attracting people directly to us, offering them a visit and a tasting of our products, and to enhance the production of cured meats. But there are many ideas … who knows?
A tip for those who want to take this path
We would like to add that all this has been possible thanks to our passion (as has been said before) but also thanks to the imprudence and concreteness that we normally adopt in our choices. These are two contrasting things but it takes both. In order to make certain choices you need to have a little bit of madness and jump in, otherwise you will never do anything.
At the same time you must not be too reckless and think about what you do, especially with a nice calculator in hand!!! And they teach this very well at the Restartalp campus.
It takes a bit of common sense!