A few big landowners owned hundreds of fields the care of which was given to subordinate peasants and gardeners. Lemon marketing was dealt directly, while small owners were obliged to sell their produce to middlemen who bought almost the entire crop and then sold it on foreign markets at large profits.
At last, on March 8th 1840, two hundred and fifty-four lemon growers formed an agricultural co-operative, called „Società Lago di Garda“, to end speculation by middlemen and increase the trade of this precious produce.
The „Società Lago di Garda“ was founded in Gargnano on January 9, 1841, by an official act, as an organisation fort he protection of the lemon producers and the trade of the produce. After a one year experiment the legal constitution was established. In a short time speculation was stopped and the local producers were able to conquer the most important market towns of Central Europe.
From 1841 to 1845 the „Società Lago di Garda“ registered deliveries for 6 million lemons, while only 30 years later, in the period 1872-75 the deliveries dropped down to 1.300.000 with a reduction of 78%. In 1921 the Lake Garda Society became an anonymous society. The last delivery of lemons was made in 1939: about 435.000 lemons. The Lake Garda Society closed this branch of its activity at the beginning of the Second World War.
The ancient seat of the Society, near St. Francis’s monastery, has not been used for years. The building can be easily seen while arriving at the historical centre from the road called western “Gardesana”.
A part of the book "The Lemon Gardens of Lake Garda from the past to the present" of Leila Los