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Volume 11, No.1 Spring 2008

Keeping Greek Village Life Alive
Greek Archdiocese/IOCC Partnership Allows Villagers
to Sustain Farms and Traditions

Vasili lost half his livestock and 85 olive trees to last summer's wildfires in Greece, but he is determined to hold on to his family's farm in Pelopio. As winter approaches, emergency supplies of animal feed from IOCC will help keep his remaining livestock alive. Photo credit: Sophia Clark

Peloponnese, Greece — His father is in Patras on kidney dialysis and his wife is in Athens in her fifth month of pregnancy, so Vasili can't spend much time lamenting the loss of half his herd of goats, sheep and some 85 olive trees to last summer’s wildfires in Greece. Vasili, 37, had previously finished a 14-month stretch of working 18-hour days in Germany for extra money so that he could return to the village of Pelopio to upgrade his father’s farm. "The animals are my tools," says Vasili, "like a taxi driver has a taxi, I had my animals. The trees will grow back but the animals were my daily income."

Like many of the farmers who have received emergency supplies of animal feed from IOCC, Vasili is choosing to remain in one of Greece's rural areas in order to keep his family business, and an entire way of life, alive. IOCC's recent distribution, over 400 metric tons of animal feed benefitting 130,000 heads of livestock, was made possible through a grant from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Niko, his brother and sister are also determined to keep their family farm in the village of Leondari. They lived their childhood years in an era of old-world traditions as their parents and multiple generations before them, wove fabric, sowed and tilled the land by hand. Niko and his siblings decided to create the "Ecological Footpath," a model of a working farm based on traditional farming techniques. The wildfires devastated their organic stables, their open range pastures, and the structure of their natural amphitheater. IOCC is helping to keep their livestock alive in the short term and has also given them forage seed so they can replant their grasslands for a long term solution to the problem.

Yianni and his son Kosta of the village of Chelidonia in Ileia Prefecture are working long days to maintain their livelihood. Kosta is picking olives on a farm in a neighboring village although ten of his friends left for Athens after the wildfires to find work. "They had no choice," says Kosta, "they will probably not return." Yianni saved some of his animals during the wildfires but could not salvage the two tons of animal feed he had warehoused. IOCC's donation of feed and Kosta's hard work on the neighboring farm will keep the family going until father and son can rebuild their stable and warehouse.

IOCC's total relief and recovery program for Greece has exceeded $500,000 and has included distributions of feed totaling 704 metric tons and 20 metric tons of forage seed to allow Greek farmers to permanently restore their grasslands.

New Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
$1.6 Million Grant for Greece

As this issue of News & Needs went to press, IOCC learned that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America had awarded it a $1.6 million grant to continue its relief and recovery work in Greece. The new grant is expected to serve 2,000 farming families by providing thousands of additional tons of animal feed for hundreds of thousands of livestock in the Peloponnese, as well as more foraging seed to be planted on damaged pasturelands. The seed will help provide a long term solution for keeping livestock alive.

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