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Treviso, Roncade, the Ca’ Tron estate: trees and hectares of parkland hide the headquarters of H-Farm, Human Farm, the most famous and singular incubator of ideas and technology in Italy. Stables have been turned into conference rooms, barns into offices. And then trees and fields.
Riccardo Donadon is the most well-known person behind H-Farm, a bold entrepreneur during the first roaring decade of the Internet, one of those people who through new projects and noble exits made millions in investments between the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the third millennium.
And then he became a gardener.
We aren’t joking, on the contrary. You just need to take a look at Donadon’s LinkedIn profile to read – amongst the following job titles Founder, CEO, Project Leader, Member of the Board of Direction and President – Gardener at the Grande Tiglio.
But, what do gardeners and 2.0 entrepreneurs have in common? A strategy, an ability to think and plan their work, at least according to Donadon. And also in Vita Sackville-West's view, who according to many was the woman who has revolutionized the British world of gardening.
There’s a kingdom where the most important and prestigious newspapers – newspapers like theTimes or the Guardian that are famous around the world – have top columnists who write about gardening. The Telegraph has nine of them with so many features.
The first gardening columnist at the Observer was born and bred in that kingdom. She occupied that role for fifteen years – just like Donadon, actually, she had already made a name for herself in another profession, she was already a famous and respected writer and poetess: Victoria Mary Sackville-West, Lady Nicolson (1892-1962), better known as Vita.
Vita created, described and talked about the extravagant approach, elaborate but really neat, the result of planting and self-planting, at times exuberant and at others true to methods and boundaries, that nowadays is known as the English landscape garden, the lush version. Or the Vita Sackville-West version.
Just like Vita, Riccardo Donadon was blown over with love for gardening and he decided to be the man of success who retires from the public eye and goes back to nature, in perfect Thoreau style. All this happened between September 2003 and January 2005. Then, he went back to the business world. And he started H-Farm, the farm that nurtures human talent – a campus complete with letterman sweaters and a tractor mascot you can purchase online.
Anyway, whether we are talking about Riccardo or Vita, of poetry or digital businesses, gardening isn't merely a passion: these people know their stuff.
Giulio Iacchetti e Vittorio Venezia
Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec
Maurizio Cattelan e Pierpaolo Ferrari