Permaculture: Green Solutions in the Greek Countryside

Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex,

the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.”

Bill Mollison

In Greece of 2014 the scars of the economic crisis are still vivid. Poverty, misery, despair are depriving the majority of the people, younger and older, from a decent living as well as their dreams for a happy life. Unemployment, hunger, depression and other health problems has risen sharply. The economic crisis revealed a deeper crisis of values, culture, politics and lifestyle.

The last decades’ false economic model guided Greek society towards a great concentration in capital cities and as a consequence led to a rural abandοnment. The society shifted to a hyper-consumerism of processed goods, often beyond people’s actual means, led at the same time to a depreciation of the real, enduring wealth of the country: its unique landscape, rich biodiversity, moderate climate, ancient and traditional cultural heritage and so much more.  A lot has been written, said, analysed this Greek, European and Global crisis. But are lessons  being learned? Is thecrisis is an opportunity for a positive change?

The answers to my questions brought a young couple that following their intuition decided to make the brave small step just when the signs of the economic crisis appearing in the horizon. Christos Alexiou and Flairy Fotiadou returned to the land to build their dream along with nature. At one point of their lives, both highly educated and with a successful career in their fields (engineering and communications) chose consciously quality versus quantitywith the aim to build a life of trust, love and care for the Earth.With no obvious roots to the countryside fell in love with the mountain village of Seliana in the area of Achaia in Peloponnese, a mountain of 750 meters blessed with water and view to the sea and an ancient history of 3000 years.

Re-green, their eco-culture center was born in 2012. As they explain on their website: “Re-Green is an ecoculture center based on a mountain countryside, aiming to actively experience the power of Green living. We are convinced that the world’s problems, the economic crisis, the diseases, the climate change, the pollution etc can be solved by Re-Greening our lives. Re-Green stands for everything… re-use and re-cycle things, reduce waste, refuse in the first place, repair, re-think our actions, re-write the rules, re-view, re-model, re-design, re-invent Life! Re-Green means to take responsibility and to simplify. Re-Green is Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Energy Saving, Self-Sufficiency, Nutrition with Real Food.

Inspired from the ethics and principles of Permaculture, Regreen seems a never ending design project of a Sustainable and Self Sufficient model of living. Christos and Flairy, have succeeded in growing their own healthy food, researching traditional remedies and ancient models of healing, building nature friendly structures and receive people for green living seminars all year round. They are keen to share their experience with others that’s why they created “a welcoming home for people who share the same ideas with us, so that we all can change together and multiply the effect of this transition with awareness around!”

I personally witnessed their care for people, nature, animals and the earth as well their open mind and heart of sharing their acquired knowledge, experience and their food through the 11 day Permaculture course this summer. I left with the best impressions, and empowered to re-design my life.

Before the course I thought wrongly that Permaculture concerns only a sustainable way of agriculture. Instead, I learned that Permaculture is a conscious design method that provides us all the necessary tools to “consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature while yielding abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs.”Permaculture design can be applied to everything, from the organization of sustainable human communities, local economy, education, culture, health, technology and of course sustainable agriculture.It is about work with nature rather than against it.

Both our teachers, Rod Everett and Mill Millichap were confident that Permaculture can help the shift from industrial agriculture towards a sustainable future.

As Rod states: “It is a different way of thinking that works with the natural forces of the plants. Rather than looking for artificial fertilizers and chemicals, farmers are using a combination of plants and beneficial insects that can protect the plants from diseases, weeds or pests. It is the diversity of plants and insects that works! Creating a diverse landscape in the farm helps biodiversity to thrive and increase yields.”

According to Mill: Permaculture  is a design system that can restructure our thinking process. It is a path of properly understanding and applying its principles and its ethics.  Whatever we do and whatever we activate we can view it in a total sustainable way. Acting the sustainability. All the knowledge’s that we may acquire by studying Permaculture do not count unless we apply them properly. If politicians could study Permaculture and apply its Ethics and Principles without compromising them, they will certainly discover a clear way forward.

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