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Della Storie: An eco and agro tourism hospitality company focused on the story of the community, with the goal of their engagement.

Sustainable rural eco and agro tourism focused on the story of the land and community that love it.

Photo of Trinity Hart
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Della Storie

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Indianapolis, IN

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United States of America

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

The state of Indiana.

What country is your selected Place located in?

United States of America

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

I chose the state of Indiana for graduate school. As a native Oregonian, I never planned or expected to stay. Now it's been 13 years and I'm proud to call Indiana home. Indiana is the American heartland. It is the "northern-most southern state" and it's hospitality reflects that. It is here that I've built a career and become an expert in my field, commercial real estate development. Though my roots are humble, having grown up raising sheep in rural Oregon, I have been developing in urban areas in Indiana. It is here, that I've connected my past and my present with a vision of a eco and agro tourism hospitality company that connects the community and created both economic and workforce development, two constant struggles for rural communities.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Indiana is in the heartland of the United States of America. The Midwest, the central part of the country where agriculture is not just a way of life, it is a deep rooted tradition. Though large scale, row crop commercial agriculture has become the norm over small sustainable farms, values are changing in both the heart and minds of the American people. Approximately 75% of agriculture in the Midwest is corn and soybeans; largely subsidized by the government. Only 25% of the land is used to produce alfalfa, apples, asparagus, green beans, blueberries, cabbage, carrots, sweet and tart cherries, cranberries, cucumbers, grapes, oats, onions, peaches, plums, peas, bell peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, raspberries, strawberries, sweet corn, tobacco, tomatoes, watermelon, and wheat. However, there is a movement toward a more sustainable way of farming as Hoosiers (Indiana residents) and people globally are becoming more aware of climate changes and where the food we eat comes from. There is a movement where people care about what their putting in their bodies not only in terms of where it comes from but how it is grown and its affect on both nutrition and the environment. Hoosiers are humble and have historically eaten humble food. Breaded and sautéd pork tenderloin, corn and homegrown vegetables and sugar cream pie are the tradition. These are the flavors that smell and taste like home. These are the essence of the American heartland that is known for generally being flat although there are some major land forms that vary in elevation, such as rolling hills with calming lakes and fast rivers that historically carried goods throughout the country. Most of Indiana is rural. These rural areas have experienced a steady decline in recent decades. Gone are the small family run stores and shops in favor of the ease of choosing two-day shipping from giant online retailers. The recession in 2008 forced many small industrial businesses to close as well, leaving many without a job. Without local employers, small town residents were forced to leave to find work. This has resulted a decline in population, employment, and economic development. These rural communities are desperate for a new system that will allow them to reconnect with their fellow residents and local businesses.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

6900000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Things that Della Storie would affect: Environment - currently most of the farms in the state are large scale, commercial agriculture operations. This is not healthy for the environment or the best way to grow the food that we eat. We need more small, sustainable farming operations, not fewer. According to a report published on elementascience.org, “sustainable agriculture is among the most urgently needed work in the United States, for at least three reasons: we face an environmental crisis, a health crisis, and a rural economic crisis. Addressing these pressing crises through sustainability transition will require growing our agricultural workforce: both because the current farm population is aging, and because sustainable agriculture is knowledge-intensive work that substitutes experiential knowledge of farm ecosystems for harmful industrial inputs.” Economics - the majority of rural towns and hamlets are struggling economically. The cycle of poverty continues because there are few jobs that include continued training and education. By 2050 more of these rural places will be abandoned. Culture - people travel to get a taste of something new. See something new, try something new, eat something new. As the rural Midwest declines in population, an entire culture is lost with these small towns. Della Storie aims to not only keep that place alive but revitalize the culture by validating the stories of those in the community. Policy - the federal policy of subsidizing farms and farmers is not a sustainable model. In addition, there is a movement towards growing our food differently. The focus is becoming about the quality of the nutrition and taste instead of quantity that can be produced. Environmentally sustainable practices are being tested and proven as well. These sustainable models grow a large variety of food instead of the tradition of the last 100 years or so of large crops of soy beans or corn. Diets - How food is grown affects diets. Access to nutritious food affects lives. Della Storie and the economic and workforce development it brings, can bring new access to food in rural communities.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Rural economies in Indiana are struggling. They struggling with job creation and retention, struggling with agricultural policies that no longer make sense to the people in terms of what they are eating or how it affects the environment. They are struggling to keep the small town America culture alive. By creating eco and agro tourism is rural areas in Indiana, Della Storie can address these issues and change the narrative by cultivating a community of stories to share with the world. This project will create an impact within the community and to those who visit. The creation of the Dell Storie sites will spur economic development within the community through an increase of available jobs, employed local residents, and visiting tourists. As more visitors travel to the Della Storie sites, they will continue to want to learn more and explore the community. It is hoped that this will inspire additional demand for restaurants, which will then increase demand for locally grown food. As the visitors continue to explore, locally owned shops will begin to pop back up, filled with handmade or local treasures to discover. The economic development that occurs from these sites will help revive these communities, bringing hope and their stories to life again.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Breaking the cycle of poverty starts with entry level jobs and continued training and education. That is hospitality all day long. Della Storie will bring jobs to communities in desperate need of those jobs. Della Storie will validate the stories of communities in rural Indiana through intentional and curated storytelling that involves the residents and celebrates their stories. Della Storie will serve as an example for sustainable farming practices and farm to table hospitality for guests and the communities they honor.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Della Storie represents a new brand in hospitality development specializing in sustainable, nature-centric, and agricultural tourism. The brainchild of Trinity Hart, a real estate developer with a background in agriculture and historic preservation, Della Storie takes its name from the Italian phrase meaning “of stories.” Stories connect us to our past and give life to our dreams for the future. They connect us emotionally to one another and to the places that form our shared cultural identities. Drawing on the intrinsic power of place—particularly in rural areas and small towns, which are largely overlooked in boutique hospitality development—Della Storie will offer guests authentic experiences to connect with the legacies that have shaped the geography and built environment of each project site. Della Storie’s boutique hotels will fuse curated storytelling with intentional experiences and architecturally inspired surroundings to give guests authentic encounters derived from the cultural heritage of the surrounding people and landscapes. Wherever the locale, offerings will always be site- and story-specific. Programming could include anything from a gardening and cooking class to a guided lakeshore meditation. Della Storie’s food and beverage offerings will further amplify the guest experience. These will be rooted in local flavors and culinary traditions. Whether it is a harvest dinner during a farm stay or a fresh filet after a morning fishing, Della Storie will bring forgotten agricultural legacies to life. Finally, the architectural character and design elements of each Della Storie hotel will capture the spirit of its surroundings to allow guests to immerse themselves in the most lasting and visible expressions of cultural heritage. Della Storie not only seeks to enrich the lives of its guests but also its host communities through workforce training and economic development opportunities, which are often lacking in rural areas. The company will strive to meet certification as a B Corporation, working “toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high-quality jobs with dignity and purpose,” fundamentals of the B Corporation Declaration of Interdependence. Balancing purpose and profit, Della Storie will attract socially conscious guests who seek out companies dedicated to making a positive impact because Della Storie’s guests not only want to see the world, they want to make it a better place. They want to know that their values are reflected in the places they stay and the travel experiences they seek. And most importantly, they understand that lifelong connections to places and people are made through authenticity.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • networking

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Photo of Alana Libow
Team

Hi Trinity Hart welcome to the Food System Vision Prize Community!

Are you interested in trying to grow a new stream of tourists or convert a current stream of tourists to eco-agro tourism? As you consider that, we encourage you to share more about the current and expected tourism picture -- eg Current rates, expectation for increase or decrease (and why?), seasons, types of tourists, etc and how does the tourism picture connect to the challenges and how will your Vision impact the current tourism picture?

In exploring the above, how might you engage further with food system stakeholders in Indian to uniquely inform the development of your Vision?

As a reminder: We have built a very comprehensive Food Vision Prize Toolkit with a lot of information, activities, and guidelines. The Toolkit will help you refine your Vision and make it systemic, human-centred and well informed for the future. Here is the link to the Prize Toolkit: http://bit.ly/2X4ZxQk

You may also benefit from attending this week's webinar focused on Future-Casting and/or reviewing the previously recorded webinar on Systems Thinking: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-system-vision-prize/open-submission

Look forward to seeing your Vision evolve over the coming weeks.