NEWS

Melissohori

Haralambos Tsokanis studied to be an economist and was assistant director of financial services at the Agricultural Bank insurance company. But for 20 years, he was preparing for his great escape. «We needed to build the infrastructure, get the investments,» he explained, «both for the business to take off but also to have the environment protected, to support organic farming as I had pictured it. At the same time, I worked whenever there was time.» On the 15 hectares that he owns in Melissohori in the Theban district, he breeds turkeys organically, and cultivates aromatic herbs and 40 kinds of garden produce, depending on the season. Moreover, he grows cereals to make frumenty (trahanas) and pasta. «I tried to bring a new model of business activity to farming because I saw the way of subsidies was a dead end. This new model, I believe, needs to combine production with trade,» he said. He set up a processing unit and a network of collaborative producers who overall own 100 hectares of land, but also businesses such as Plataia Mills, which supplies material and services to make the products. «I try to create new things, such as dried herbs in jars which we will be bringing out now. Even if economic experts say that to make profit, an enterprise needs to focus on a specific objective and specialize, I think that farming requires taking risks,» Tsokanis said. He splits his time between Athens and Melissohori, in order to sell his products. He is happy because he is doing what he wants and it’s going well. «This might be because I chose a sector which is fallow ground at the moment, organic farming,» he cautioned. One of the biggest problems in the provinces was, he added, that they have not completely weaned themselves from Athens. «Although the conditions now exist, everything continues to start off in the capital.»