Tell us more about 'Eumelia'
'Eumelia' receives visitors from all over the world. It is an organic agrotourism farm and guesthouse, an ancient olive grove to which we have added vines, herbs, almond trees and vegetables. Visitors staying on the organic farm can experience what it is like to live on such a farm.
Having lived and worked abroad in a completely different area, could you please tell us about your experience and why you decided to return to Greece?
I was born in Greece, but at the age of 12, I moved to the USA where I eventually studied political science and international relations. Later, I worked in other foreign cities - for the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the United Nations and for Non-Governmental Organisations. I decided to return to Greece because it is a country where I felt very comfortable and wanted to contribute something to the country.
What were the reactions of your friends when they learned you wanted to return to Greece?
I began to take action before the Greek crisis hit. It was in 2003 that I launched my farm in Laconia. In different parts of the world I had seen a number of 'bubbles' burst one after the other, in finance, technology, energy and many other sectors. I realised that the future was going to be very difficult for the food sector. I therefore wanted to return and do what I do to see where our food comes from and how we can improve and promote its production in Greece.
There are many who believe that the Greek crisis has halted entrepreneurship. What is the key to successful business in Greece today?
The key is adaptability and perseverance. Nothing else matters in the Greek market-it is a very complex market with certain 'givens' one day which are not applicable the next. This is also typical of countries abroad, but in Greece you must persist. First of all, you must love what you do. When love is involved in what we want to do and we have perseverance, at some point, what we crave will become a reality.
Have you included Greeks from abroad in your business network? And, generally, how far do you think it can help in connecting Greeks around the world?
Eumelia has a global reach, because it is an organic farm that integrates environmental technologies and offers a great many activities such as olive oil and wine tasting,cookery courses and programmes of an educational character which emphasise man's relationship with nature. This touches many people both within Greece and elsewhere. Many people who at first are visitors become friends and support our efforts by becoming a type of ambassador for what we are doing. Thus, everyone, in their own way, helps either through contacts or ideas for growth.
What are your plans for the future?
There are many plans for Eumeleia. We never want the place itself to become so big that it loses its characteristic quality. We have set specific targets for its growth. A major project and a dream is a natural lake with waterlilies and reeds. It will become a wetland, where, along with other parts of the farm, there will be cookery courses and an organic restaurant supplied with our own products or those of other businesses in the area. We also want to create some houses using recycled materials such as containers from decommissioned boats. We want to turn these containers into houses which are sustainable with environmental technologies, green roofs and bioclimatic architectural features. We want to build a multiplex on farmland.