Reezo Academyis a professional orientation and training course, aimed at young people under 30 and dedicated to the cultivation, processing and marketing of hemp and its derivatives. Launched in January 2021, Reezo Academy is the result of a collaboration between "Enecta" and "Baumhaus".
Enecta, founded in the Netherlands in 2013 by two young Italian entrepreneurs and now based in Italy, operates in the cannabis sector, producing CBD oil and capsules, pet oil, cannabidiol-based cosmetics, CBD crystals, CBG oil and crystals.
Since its foundation, it has been fundamental for Enecta to raise awareness among consumers and companies about the different uses of the hemp plant, in order to establish a transparent Italian supply chain.
Baumhaus was founded in May 2019 as a type A social cooperative and is active on the territory of Bologna. It deals with the design and production of innovative projects in the educational and cultural fields.
According to a study published in May 2020 in the "Italian Journal of Agronomy", eighty-three percent of the farms producing hemp in Italy were recently and directly established for this purpose. The industries are run by young entrepreneurs (fifty-seven percent of the owners are under the age of thirty-five) and forty-three percent of these exploit abandoned land.
The hemp sector is therefore a growing sector, as the plant is sustainable and has numerous industrial and therapeutic uses.
Reezo Academy is a training guidance course aimed at deepening the relationship between environmental sustainability, social innovation and new production models.
Structured in fifteen appointments for a total of one hundred and forty hours, on Friday and Saturday mornings in Bologna, the course is totally free of charge and sees the participation of thirty girls and boys aged between eighteen and thirty, with one hundred and forty seven applications received.
The aim of the course is also to offer different opportunities to young people at risk of dropping out. The participants include both young people already in employment or education and young people who have just finished their studies.
The course combines in-depth meetings, group project work, testimonials from companies and professionals, individual mentorship meetings and in-depth analysis of local opportunities.
The course is divided into five transversal modules common to all participants, two in-depth courses, "Vegetable Crops" and "Business Crops", with topics ranging from botany to marketing, from creativity to strategy; meetings with companies and professionals; field experiments and a final project work.
United for training: Baumhaus and Enecta
«We started at the beginning of February with one appointment a week in distance learning mode," explains Luca Padova, project coordinator for Baumhaus. «Holding the course in-class would be impossible, considering that we have participants from Friuli Venezia Giulia to Sicily and that during the year the rules for the containment of COVID-19 infection have frozen all unnecessary travel».
The course will end in February, after one hundred and forty hours of training. «The objective of our training plan is to give participants an in-depth understanding of the production, processing and marketing chain of industrial hemp, which can be used for the extraction and production of CBD-based products.». The lecturers include professionals and experts as well as Enecta collaborators. «We are investing a lot in testimonials from companies that give lectures with the aim of creating networks and bringing in new insights and different skills».
Another partner in the project, along with Enecta and Baumhaus, is "Kilowatt", a communications agency that deals with brand identity. The agency designed the naming and coordinated image, which is able to describe the distinctive soul of the course of studies. The name "Reezo" is the pop version of "rizo", which means root. The project's claim is in fact 'the future takes root'. «Starting from the roots of the plant to get to the leaf," says Luca Padova, «because hemp is a future-proof plant». Kilowatt will also draw up an impact assessment of the project.
Another unprecedented partner is the association 'Antigone', composed of legal sociologists and criminologists, which carries out research and acts as an observatory on prisoners' rights. «With Antigone we have built four workshops within a module called "Public Health", dedicated to a general overview of the current Italian legislation on substances and with a focus on the jurisdiction relating to the cultivation of hemp».
Classes will end in mid-July. Part of the hours will be dedicated to project work until the final presentation. «The young people are divided into two groups, one dedicated to phyto-purification, the other to the construction of an eco-village, in which they are carrying out project ideas derived from the lectures and meetings organised». The project is designed to enable participants to put their skills to use and realise their aspirations.
At the end of the course, a certificate of participation will be issued and there will be an opportunity for some students to undertake internships at Enecta.
An in-person camp is also being planned in Castelvecchio Subequo (province of L'Aquila, Abruzzo), to be held in September, in order to put into practice what has been learned during the year.
Let the young speak: testimonials from Reezo Academy students
Out of the one hundred and forty-seven applications received, preference for participation to the Reezo Academy was given to thirty young people aged between eighteen and thirty, who are not currently in education or have no stable employment.
Salvatore, 29, says: «I chose to participate in Reezo Academy because I am very hopeful about the future and the impact cannabis will have on it. It's a passion I've been trying to cultivate for years now, constantly seeking out as much information as possible. When I heard about this course I practically fell in love with it; what interests me most is the cultivation and medical applications of the plant.» For Salvatore, the Reezo Academy experience is «pioneering, exciting, rich».
Salvatore is one of the students working on a project dedicated to the phyto-purification of the territory. «It's an idea I've had for several years and which I also proposed to Enecta some time ago. Now we are working to find the most suitable solution for a town in Piedmont that is particularly rich in mercury».
Reezo Academy is an opportunity to meet and exchange, as well as a professional course aimed at providing students with skills. «Personally I'm already getting a lot out of this experience, I'm meeting nice people who share my passion for cannabis and I'm getting the chance to understand to what extent I can follow my passions and dreams. Reezo has also been a way for me to feel less alone in this battle for a more beautiful and healthy world». At the end of the course, Salvatore would like to get a job in the cannabis world. «Over the years, I've found that the art I put aside always comes in handy, so I'm sure that all the skills I've learned on this course will come in handy sooner or later».
Twenty-one-year-old Alessia Irene also particularly enjoyed the Reezo Academy experience. «I chose to take part in the Reezo Academy because at first glance I was intrigued,» she says. «I found it a very interesting and above all innovative project. I was struck by its unusual proposal and even though I'm pursuing another course of study in the meantime, I always try to find a way not to miss a lesson!» Alessia would describe this experience as «innovative, stimulating, concrete and creative».
Among the topics covered within the course, sustainability stands out.« We had a lesson on the environmental, social and economic sustainability of enterprises. Within the course we also talked about the history of hemp and the present and future business models. One aspect that makes you never miss a lecture is the testimonies of professionals who work with hemp on a daily basis, from the CBD application sectors to the agriculture, textiles and food and beverage sectors.
Alessia Irene is working on a project work regarding the construction of an eco village. «In order to carry out the project work, we were given tools such as the business model canvas, which helps to combine everyone's ideas and make objective assessments. The project I am working on involves the design of an eco village, focusing on the production and reuse of waste substances. The eco village offers workshops for adults and children, focusing on recycling and how to make the best use of nature's products, thus creating a positive ecological and social impact».
For Alessia, taking part in the course is a way of deepening her knowledge of the subject and getting to know professionals working in the world of hemp by hearing their testimonials. «I would also like to work with hemp one day, to help people feel better about themselves, feel more connected to nature, and appreciate the value of small things».