I stumbled upon the pictures from the farm «To Kandili» randomly one day as I was scouting on the internet. What made an impression on me was the wooden kiosk of the farm, where all sorts of summer crop were offered in abundance: from juicy red tomatoes, to cucumbers, green beans, onions, peppers, zucchinis and tomato sauces.

I was curious to meet the meet behind this organic and impressive yield, and that’s why I made sure to pass by the village of Prokopio during our visit at Evia.

What I ended up finding though when I stepped closer to that Facebook-famous kiosk, came as a surprise…

A young slim man, with bright smiley eyes, approached and greeted me.

«Hello,» I said, «I am looking for George Polatoglou, the man in charge of this farm, am I at the right place?»

«Hello! I am him. You are welcome!»

«Great! Could we have a quick look of the farm itself? Is the rest of the team here too?»

«What team? There is nobody else here. I’m on my on.»

That is where I lost it…

How is it possible a man so young, to be in charge of the production of so many crops every day by himself – running the farm’s kiosk on the street from morning to night and at the same time promote everything online?

«This is surely an interesting case» I think and silently follow George as he is leading the way towards his farm.

Entering the farm, one encounters large plots of land where beans, corn and ocra are growing, next to some really tall and old fig trees.

“Do you like figs? Then you must surely try these!”

The trees were enormous, never have been pruned, following the principles of Fukuoka’s natural farming. And the figs ended up being one of the most pleasant surprises of the trip: with an intense flavor and smell of summer, and everything produced without any chemical spraying.

Right next I notice growing seedlings of broccolis and cauliflowers.

«Are these yours George? Do you saw them?»

«Yes. I sawed 3000 plants this spring. Always starting from my own heirloom seeds that I always make sure to collect every year.»

I smile thinking: «Here’s a professional organic producer who grows everything out of his seeds and seedlings…It is possible. It’s just a matter of organization.»

«And this?» I ask pointing at a tend.

«Well that’s my house!» he answers in a smile. «During the summers when the weather is so easy-going and when I need to attend the farm’s kiosk so many hours a day, I prefer staying at the farm. I can run everything I need to run more efficiently.»

A little bit further he pointed out a small building which he is currently fixing with the goal of transforming it to a small lodging for the volunteers he will host on the farm in the near future. They will come and stay with him and help him out with farming work all around the land, in exchange with food and accommodation.

He lead us beyond the introductory plot of land with the buildings and passed through a beautiful path full of berries, wild grapes and continued our walk through a road that resembled a idyllic renaissance painting

Soon we entered a second plot with pumpkins and tomato plants, and then to a third one, and a forth…

The farmed land kept on and on and I couldn’t stop wondering: «George…When exactly do you have time to run all this production by yourself?»

«I am here many hours per day. There is plenty of work and good organization of my time is always mundane. But I like what I do. I was tired of being a teacher – the system wasn’t satisfying me. I wanted to get involved with the earth and that is when I started coming to our family land a few years ago. At the beginning it was only a few afternoons a week and during the weekends. I began with baby steps initially, until I learn some principal things. Then came the decision to leave all the rest – that was when I realized that the life I dreamt of, was here. Soon, I convinced some of my neighbors here to rent me some plots of land so I could extend and start what I was dreaming of.»

«And for an income? How do you cover your expenses for the farm? Materials for your irrigation systems and your construction work?»

«Twice a week I drive to all nearby villages, and to the center of Evia, Halkida, and I distribute my crops to families who have pre-ordered their vegetables and are waiting for them to reach them.”

“Distribution as well” I think and smile. It is miraculous what we human beings can achieve when we do what we truly believe in and are passionate for.

He gave us a tour on his chicken house and introduced us to his friendly goats, which he takes care and keeps healthy with the help of effective microorganisms (EM). All of his gardens were bursting with life, full of beautiful flowers which he placed there to accompany his summer vegetable plants and act as natural pest managers as well as nutrition stations for the gardens’ so much wanted pollinators. He also showed us the superb quality compost he himself makes on site – his greatest achievement, as he termed it. «A great pleasure to see soil being created every year, and all of this, out of the garden’s organic waste, things most farmers throw away.»

The tour took us over 2 hours, and during the entire time, it didn’t stop to impress me all the health, abundance and diversity I was noticing in every corner of his organic gardens. How much yield one can produce by applying some basic permaculture principles alongside the ones of Fukuoka on natural farming.

George wouldn’t let us go before cutting one of his delicious watermelons, bursting with summer aroma and flavor and a chilled glass of petimezi drink. And for the way he made sure we had all the tomatoes and cucumbers we needed to keep our stomachs full.

What I keep today from George, and the admirable things he managed to achieve in Emvia in barely two years, is that the only thing that counts, is to be doing what truly fills us up.

It is true what the beloved writer of the Alchemist, Paulo Coelho, says that when “you truly want something, the whole universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

 

Sofia Matsi

August 2015

*If you want to find out more information about George Polatoglou and his project, «To Kandili» in Evia, have a look here.

George Polatoglou - The Contemporary Farmer of Evia

George Polatoglou – The Contemporary Farmer of Evia