On 27 October 2012, the (Paros Rotary Club) invited local farmer Arsenis Loukis to speak about his work at their annual event to honour a citizen on the island for his or her contribution to the community. Loukis’ work has received a lot of attention over recent months; he has built up a sizeable organic farming business in just a few short years and was the first farmer on Paros to receive DIO (Inspection & Certification of Organic Products Agency) certification, for his organic extra virgin olive oil in 2011.
Arsenis Loukis is unusual among his peers in the village of Naoussa. From a young age he had a passion and love for the land and it was his dream to become a professional farmer. He starting working with agricultural crops in 2005, applying under programmes specifically for young farmers.
“When I first began,” he told us, “I wanted to make sure that whatever I did was done in an organised way, using new methods and techniques, like soil analysis, using pruning, irrigation. I really wanted to know more, so I traveled abroad looking for and asking about agriculture. I learned all kinds of different techniques and then I said to myself: ‘Why not try these out on Paros?’
“So I started to plant row crops and vineyards on the island. Now I have 90 stremmata of vineyards, 70 stremmata of olives, 40 of vegetables, and 70 of barley.
My goal is that in 2-3 years when I’m in full production, then local Parians and visitors will be able to come to the farm to sample our organic products.
“In 2010, I began a programme as a young farmer through the Agricultural Ministry for 80 stremmata of crop production – the largest area in the Cycladic prefecture. Already this year, we’ve planted 55 acres of vineyards, citrus fruit, pomegranates, olives, pears, apricots, figs, prunes and capers. These estates are registered as organic through the DIO.
“I believe that when you do something with love and enthusiasm it will bring you positive results. I hope through my own example that other young people will be encouraged to turn to Mother Earth.”
On 1 & 2 December, the Hellenic Society for Environment & Culture and the local Ecological Greens party held meetings on Paros and Naxos on the topic of young farmers and producer-consumer networks. Invited guest speaker was Dimitris Michailidis, technical director of PENA, the Pan-Hellenic Young Farmers Association (www.neoiagrotes.gr) which promotes local development with self-sufficiency, sustainability and local supply chains. Loukis’ farm was one of the farms visited on Paros and one subject discussed was the potential for development of agrotourism (which allows visitors to experience agricultural life at first hand and gives them the opportunity to work in the fields alongside the farmers) on Paros.
Loukis’ produce is for sale at the open farmer’s market in Naoussa, on the river road, beside the children’s playground. I challenge you to find fresher, more delicious fruit and vegetables anywhere on the island!