Impact Project

Salento Apuglia

Girls & women join forces to make a difference!


Our Impact Lab is open to women & girls interested in practicing, applying or developing their technical skills by working on real-life charitable projects. 


Wether you are an industry professional wishing to volunteer your skills, university student looking for work experience or motivated high-school student eager to practice your tech skills - our Impact Labs offer a perfect opportunity for all participants to collaborate and learn from each other, while supporting a meaningful cause. 

Impact Projects can be nominated by anyone via our website and are reviewed by Girls Can Code committee and Impact Lab participants for implementation.


Once a project is identified, we involve all our girls in building a realization strategy and work together to develop a solution.

Salento is the name of a 100 km long and 40 km wide beautiful peninsula in the extreme southeast of Italy, which is often referred to as situated in the “heel” of the Italian “boot”.


The region relies heavily on two sources of income: Tourism - Clear blue Meditarreneant water and stunning coast, often referred as the Maldives of Italy, the rich baroque architecture in contrast to the rural “trulli” white houses that recall Greece, and the good genuine food based on vegetable and fresh fish.


Olive Oil Production - The geographic situation and climate support an extensive production of olive oil from ancestral olive trees spread all over the territory.


Today, Salento is badly affected by several problems and poverty is concerning more and more people.

Salento Apuglia Project - in this Impact Lab series, we will be building a platform to support the local olive farmers, whose livelihoods have been devastated by the Xilella Fastidiosa bacteria. There is no treatment for the bacteria and entire olive plantations must be replanted. Since the timeline for olive trees to become productive is approximately 10 years - the economic devastation for the local farmers is enormous, wiping out their main source of income.


Our Impact Project will focus on working with local farmers in the Puglia region to develop and implement a ‘Responsible Holidays’ platform. The platform will allow tourists to identify and book responsible holidays – where tourists can help the local farmers to rebuild their farms, while lodging at the rustic Italian farms and experiencing the charm of southern Italy first hand.


Participants will have an opportunity to join an exploration trip to Puglia, provisionally planned for April or June 2021* - where they will work together with the Italian team, preparing them to take over the completed project.

*Subject to favourable covid-19 developments.

< /Mission ‘Save the Olives’ >

Girls Can Code strives to build a digital platform to aid the farmers in re-planting olive groves, as well as establishing an interim source of income – while the trees mature into productive groves.

As part of our Impact Project – Girls Can Code will focus on working with local farmers in the Puglia region to develop and implement a ‘Responsible Holidays’ platform. The platform will allow tourists to identify and book responsible holidays – where tourists can help the local farmers to rebuild their farms, while lodging at the rustic Italian farms and experiencing the charm of southern Italy first hand.

< /Purpose >

Knowledge is Power – Run information campaigns with Italian and Swiss media to draw attention to the agricultural crisis which is devastating European Olive Oil production.

Responsible Holidays – Provide a means to promote and book responsible holidays where farmers can host families or corporate organisations wishing to support their rebuilding efforts.

Ongoing Local Support – Organize local initiatives for girls of all ages to get familiar with technologies to support and manage the booking platform, as well as build e-shop to sell local products online.

New Ideas Welcome – Promote initiatives to identifies winning ideas that can help the local economy (technology innovation)

< /Get Involved >

The project will be conducted in several stages. We are looking for volunteers (corporations, university students or industry professionals) with expertise in the following fields:

Web design & development
Agricultural research
Digital Marketing

Xylella Fastidiosa

Article by BY ALEJANDRA BORUNDA  @ National Geographic

The first withered olive trees appeared near Gallipoli, in the Apulia region of southern Italy. Bunches of leaves turned brown and crunchy around the edges. Then, whole groves started to wane. Farmers whose families had tended olives for generations watched their trees dry up and their businesses plummet.

At first, it wasn’t clear what was causing the decline. Was it a fungus? A virus? Something else entirely? Scientists showed up in the olive groves to sample the trees, urgently trying to find the cause.

One researcher from a local agricultural institute had just come back from a conference in California, where he’d learned about the plant bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. The symptoms the olive growers were seeing, he realized, looked exactly like what seen in the talks he'd attended. Sure enough, when he and his colleagues tested the Italian trees, they found the bacterium lurking in their woody hearts.


This was not good news. The European Commission considers Xylella to be among the most dangerous plant bacteria in the world. Different strains of it have wreaked havoc on vineyards in California and citrus trees in Brazil, killing acres of valuable plants and causing billions in lost revenue.


Until the olive trees fell ill, Xylella had never been seen in Europe, and its identification in Italy set off alarm bells across the scientific and political communities of the European Union. Italian olive growers produce 15 percent of the world’s virgin olive oil, worth more than $2 billion each year. Spain produces even more. Anything that threatened the trees threatened the entire European economy.


Olives are also central to the identity of the region. Over 60 million trees stand in stately rows across Puglia, which—until recently—produced about 40 percent of all the olive oil Italy exports. Nearly half a million trees are the beloved “ulivi secolari,” centuries-old trees whose gnarled trunks have stood firm even as vast changes swept across the region.


On the farms, the news was bleak - the farmers watched helplessly as their trees weakened. By 2018, they’d lost more than 65 percent of their trees. It is estimated that by 2020 the region will have lost nearly 90 percent. On average it takes between 10 and 20 years to grow a productive olive tree. Scientists estimate that it will take 50 years to restore the groves.’ Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment - which means that tens of millions of trees must be uprooted, burnt and replanted.


A sliver of hope comes from the agricultural institutions, who have started testing hundreds of cultivars of olives to find ones that might be resistant to the bacteria. So far, they’ve found at least two very promising possible options.

Read the full article @ National Geographic

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