Seeds of Hope Take
|Volume 12, No. 1
Root for Greek Farmers
Peloponnese, Greece With six sacks of forage seed, farmer Dimitris Politicos has replanted nearly five acres of pastureland that had been burnt by wildfires that ravaged the Peloponnese in 2007. With the seed, along with several bags of animal feed to help sustain his 293 sheep, Politicos hopes to have sufficient pastureland to keep his flocks alive.
Now, IOCC is launching a new initiative to help Politicos and other Peloponnese farmers to further recover and improve their crop yield. Through a $1.3 million grant from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, IOCC will construct the Peloponnese’s first soil laboratory which will help farmers analyze the condition of their soil and water in order to determine what crops to cultivate and better manage fertilizer use.
This is the third grant that the Archdiocese has provided to help farmers recover their livelihood since the devastating wildfires of 2007 which destroyed cattle, grazing lands and significantly altered the composition of soil and polluted water sources. The Pancretan Association of America will also assist in the lab’s funding with a $75,000 grant to IOCC.
Previously, farmers willing and able to test their soil had to send samples to Athens and wait an average of three weeks for the results. The three week waiting period is impractical. “The availability of a soil lab in the Prefecture would return results within a matter of days and encourage more farmers to test their soil,” said Alex Machaskee, IOCC Board Chairman. “Environmentalists and agronomists agree that this will help the Peloponnese to recover economically and environmentally.”
This latest grant from the Archdiocese will also provide a two month supply of feed for up to 80,000 animals, benefitting 1,000 farming families whose lands were completely destroyed by the fires. “We are grateful to the Almighty for the devoted faithful of our Archdiocese of America whose magnanimous generosity enabled us to respond in such a substantial way from the onset of this catastrophe,” said His Eminence Archbishop DEMETRIOS of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
The 2007 fires were Greece’s worst in a century and killed 61 people and over 25,000 cattle and sheep. More than 500,000 acres of land were damaged and destroyed, amounting to about 5% of Greece’s territory. IOCC has provided nearly $4 million in relief and development programs to the Peloponnese since September 2007, including 3,100 tons of animal feed and 80 tons of forage seed to replant grasslands.