Dilofo, Thessaly – On the Greek authorities’ list of licensed natural farmers, Antonis Antonopoulos has the serial number one. What makes Antonis and his brother Yiorgos a phenomenon are not that their version farm pioneered organic methods in Greece; it’s that they have been a number of the first to recognize that organically grown, nearby sorts of wheat and barley different farmers had forged apart might be a business hit. They have branded and shipped their organic flours crafted from indigenous grains to specialty shops and bakeries for years.
Two years in the past, their Zea flour, derived from double-kernelled wheat bred of their city of Dilofo, became the key factor in an eponymous sliced loaf that is distributed nationally. Zea’s business achievement has introduced an ancient grain back from the edge of extinction. “Demand is developing,” says Yiorgos, who won’t divulge his annual turnover or what number of hectares he cultivates. “Suffice it to mention that I’m better off than absolutely everyone else inside the place.”
This fulfillment is important due to the fact Greece is a herbal gene bank. Its archipelago, varied terrain, and microclimates favored so many divergent evolutionary paths that nowadays it has the highest plant biodiversity in Europe, with approximately 6,000 wild plant species or subspecies and thousands of cultivated flowers.
Should this vast genetic vocabulary be lost, scientists and farmers should lose a crucial useful resource inside the fight to preserve feeding the planet in a rapidly-converting climate. The brothers, who are in their autumn years, have experimented with four dozen exceptional forms of local species (or landraces) of grain, at some stage in their lifetimes, manually deciding on the nice of every 12 months’ crop to seed a better-yielding crop the following year, simply as their ancestors had accomplished for thousands of years.
“Every seed adapts to the microclimate of its vicinity … In the stop, I located that the most productive grains here had been the local sorts we inherited from our dad and mom,” says Yiorgos Antonopoulos. Thanks to variation, local types do not want chemical fertilizer, pesticide, or herbicide to thrive, so landrace cultivation is by definition organic – and low-priced.
“I have the bottom prices and one-0.33 of the work of other farmers,” says Antonopoulos. “The most effective factor I do is irrigate.” Local types make a farmer impartial and self-sufficient. Agriculture today has exactly the alternative tendency. Companies want to manipulate what you sow because this is from which their income comes.
Yiorgos Antonopoulos, organic farmer
To his peers but, Antonopoulos failed to circulate with the times. “[People] do not understand [my example]. In the beginning, they could point at me like the village fool. It was approximately twenty years earlier than the outcomes began to expose. Until then, I became crazy. I could walk into the coffee save, and all and sundry would look at me.”
Today the Antonopoulos Farm is the most important structure on the outskirts of Dilofo; a village tucked in folds of espresso-colored earth that form the southeast nook of the Thessaly undeniable, Greece’s breadbasket. A mild variety of hills rises above it, regarded to the Homeric Greeks as Phthia, the hamlet wherein Achilles turned into raised.
Looking down from those hills, you’ll believe the younger hero galloping across the undulating plain wherein Antonopoulos now cultivates half a dozen landrace species of wheat, barley, and oats, and several landrace pulses, peas, and millet. The mythological pedigree provides to their mystique.