Getting back to nature has, in recent years, become a popular, life-changing choice that has both psychological and physical benefits. It is generally thought that living and working in close contact with nature is in stark contrast to an entrepreneurial lifestyle and a business-oriented mindset.
However, nature and business are two worlds that can complement and enhance one another, as Moreno Barel’s story illustrates. Born in 1964, he is a successful businessman who has decided to quit his job as a top manager of a major Italian company and embark upon a new, totally natural adventure as an olive farmer.
After selling his company in 2018, he decided to drastically change his life while holding on to the principles that had guided his professional career.
The first step towards turning a new leaf was to purchase almost three hectares of land and convert it into an olive grove, plus 10 hectares of woodland for the establishment of an oil farm that currently produces oil but has many other plans for the future.
It was a change that began, like many, with love at first sight; in the moment Moreno set eyes on the olive tree. He saw a plant with an amazing vital force, easily adapting to the surrounding environment, which can grow and bear fruit without needing chemical treatments. Despite this, Veneto is best known for its vineyards, which are often exploited, rather than valued. With this knowledge in mind, Moreno decided to move from Refrontolo, where he currently lives amidst the vineyards, to a new home in Cappella Maggiore, a place he has set about reviving and improving using his olive trees.
In the woods that surround his olive grove, Moreno plans to create a safe, public space that anyone can use, aiming to restore people’s connection to nature and their appreciation of its beauty.
It has taken Moreno knowledge, passion, and instinct to become an olive grower: “In my work, I use both my brain and my heart”, he says. “Although oliveculture in our region is nothing compared to Prosecco wine growing, its heritage can be successfully revived with the right passion and perseverance”.
Living in contact with nature is a whole new experience, one for which the skills acquired from years in business can be useful: taking care of one’s natural assets and committing to a long-term endeavour. The approach is not too different from that which inspired the ancient merchants of Venice as they set out to explore new ports and opportunities. As it turns out, the name chosen for Moreno’s new business venture is no coincidence, as it perfectly captures the spirit behind the project. The name Il Mercante d’Olio draws an analogy between the travels of the ancient Venetian traders and the value and experience that characterise Barel’s professional success worldwide.
The road from suit-and-tie entrepreneur to olive grower is not an easy one, but when the pace of daily life is dictated by nature’s rhythms rather than by business meetings, achieving a dream made of soil and oil is what really matters.