An eco-alternative, a permaculture farm

A Permaculture Farm

Dio Pigadia is a non-profit organization (“AMKE”) established in 2018 with the primary objective of implementing and exploring an alternative and sustainable ecological model. Addressing solutions to the environmental crisis is imperative to prepare for the challenges of the future. Permaculture is more than an agricultural technique; it is a philosophy rooted in local production/consumption, aiming to envision a new sustainable paradigm.

The task at hand is immense: we must reevaluate our methods of food, energy, and material production/consumption. We must reconsider our way of living together to shape a sustainable society. Dio Pigadia strives to establish a community environment that allows meaningful coexistence among individuals. It is much more than just a farm, it aims at proposing a truly holistic ecological alternative.

The initiative commences by revitalizing the soil, recognizing it as the fundamental component of the ecosystem.


A different way to consider the soil

living soil

Humans seem disconnected from what makes us live and be part of the natural cycle: food.

Food production/consumption is today the major cause of ecological problems/health issues.

It is necessary to create a sustainable farming model respectful of the environment.

Organic agriculture might be a step, but in many ways, it is similar to conventional agriculture and doesn´t provide structural solutions.

It is a monoculture system where biodiversity is low.

It is hard to tell the difference between organic and conventional: fields where the ground is processed mechanically with poor biodiversity. Only in organic farming minerals or strongly concentrated naturally extracted products are used as an input to replace the more traditional chemical fertilizers /pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides.

Both these methods, traditional and organic, rely on massive inputs of petrol to work the ground and make/import these products.

This is not sustainable.

The mechanical turning of the ground destroys the life in the soil (worms, bacteria, mushrooms…) which is necessary to keep it healthy.

The fertility and productivity of agricultural land have diminished largely in the past 50 years, needing more and more inputs to compensate for it.

When the mechanical work stops, the ground compacts like stone, it is dead soil. If you look at the ground in a forest or under a bush in any place that hasn’t been exploited by agriculture, the soil will be much richer and have a proper structure, with air, naturally maintained by the life in the soil.

Bringing back life in the soil – the base of the ecosystem – is the key.

At Dio Pigadia we focus on regenerating the dead soil. We start by adding organic matter that we use as mulch to cover the ground. This ground cover reproduces a forest´s soil by feeding the micro life, worms, bacteria, and mushrooms and regulating humidity. We never work the soil. The life in it makes the job for us. It takes a couple of years to restore the soil but we are augmenting fertility in the long term and creating a more resilient system (not the opposite like in conventional agriculture).

Rich soil provides biodiversity. It prevents invasive pests by providing their natural predators just like it happens in nature.

A different way to consider biodiversity

fly

Most of the invasive pests that traditional agriculture fights with pesticides are just a consequence of an unbalanced ecosystem where monoculture leads to the disposition of biodiversity. Conventional agriculture considers biodiversity as a problem, we believe it is the solution.

It is therefore necessary to treat the problem at the source by providing a balanced ecosystem where the priority is not short-term vision but long-term sustainability. We need to reintroduce and support biodiversity. We can do this by establishing a diversity of plants and habitats. Many plants host a specific life type, like the Mulberry tree with the silkworm. A variety of habitats, ponds, rock piles, old branches…are also essential. We make sure to leave or even create places where wildlife can thrive. Even in our vegetable garden, we like to have wild areas, tiny ponds and rock/wood piles to host biodiversity and regulate pests.

A good example is the olive fly, the most important pest for olives. It lays its eggs in the olives and damages them. Of course in the monoculture of olives, there are very few predators of the fly or its eggs-worms. But olive trees near wild areas don’t have problems. It already seems that what used to be a problem when we established the farm is now totally under control…

Another way to regenerate the soil is by rotational grazing. The animals (donkeys, sheep, chickens…) are being moved in a mobile system. This replicates nature where animals live in symbiosis with plants.

Modern breeding is the source of pollution because the concentration of animals in one place unbalances the system. On the other hand, rotational grazing is a source of fertility. It is amazing to see that where the animals passed everything grows better. The animals have “produced” heat, meat, and energy and yet there is more fertility after they grazed. Animals live in symbiosis with nature (and humans can too!). They have been selected through evolution to better their environment not destroy it. This is related to the qualitative input of animal manure that re-enrichs the soil with bacteria and other elements. There is a relation between the microflora in the animal´s digestive system and the microflora of the soil.

Food is the link between living organisms and the soil. It is what makes us live and connect to the natural cycle.

A different way to consider food

DSC

Bringing back biodiversity and fertility in the soil ensures a rich and complex substrate where plants can find what they need to be healthier and stronger.

When we in turn eat the products of these plants we not only enjoy the delicious taste but also become healthier and stronger by providing our body with qualitative food.

Recent studies have shown how the biodiversity of our intestinal flora has weakened drastically in the last 50 years. This is related to the poor quality of our food as well as the consumption of antibiotics, preservatives, or pesticides. This low intestinal flora explains many health problems since our body is not able to break down essential vital elements from food.

It also relates to our mental health since there is no healthy mind without a healthy body.

Food is not only a source of good health, it is also quite pleasurable!

We consider food production and food processing as two sides of the same coin.

The diversity of cultures that meet in Dio Pigadia is reflected in a variety of recipes inspired by local products and the variety of our production.

Come rediscover food here, it is world´s cuisine at its best!

We are also encouraging the revival of traditional food preservation such as drying, canning, and salting. We produce a variety of transformed food, from our world-famous homemade olive paste and spicy ketchup to marmalades, dried fruits, ratatouille… The list is long and evolves over the seasons!

A different way to manage energies and resources

Since the creation of the farm in 2018, all facilities were built by ourselves using mostly upcycled materials.

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The first step was to establish a fully equipped workshop (80 m2 building available on site), enabling the construction of the necessary infrastructures. We try to make and repare everything ourselves, mostly with upcycled materials so we don’t have to import and buy expensive things. We always favour local materials.

It was observed that the workshop encouraged creative approaches and design innovations from outside helpers. Learning how to use tools, how to design and how to build with available materials is an essential part of the project. We need to know how to use our hands to repair and build things.

Solar energy, rainwater harvesting, and gravity systems have been installed on the site. The facilities themselves are intended to be part of a resilient and ecological approach.

For example, a plant nursery that is built out of recycled windows is combined with a shower, as these two functions are mutually beneficial (humidity, warmth, and water control).

toilet

Dry toilets contribute to soil fertilization. This is far from anecdotic. The fact that people flush their excrements in water that has been treated with chlorine to make it potable says a lot. Disconnected from the cycle of nature we transform fertility in pollution. And we then have to produce Urea, a chemical fertiliser which is basically chemical urine to fertilise our crops. We disregard our excrements as much as we do our food.

Natural building techniques are used for construction such as a wood oven or the greenhouse. Cob (mix of hay and clay) is a natural material available on site. We use it extensively and enjoy working a magic material that is fun, easy and healthy to work with!

Building with cob makes for great moments of fun work where everybody participates, older and younger, bringing people together!

A different way to live together

The project is evolving on a more social level with the participation of so many volunteers. There are on average 10 people on the site. People get to know and understand each other by sharing so much. We are open minded and don´t discriminate. It is a place of exchange.

Organizing the living and working together has become a fun and exciting challenge. Community living involves an exchange of knowledge, practices, and general life experiences. This sharing has now taken a central place in the project.

As this is a pioneer project, the role of education is central. We see it above all as a process of learning together, encouraging everyone to find their place, according to their interests and skills. We try to give great autonomy to the volunteers participating so that they are fully involved in the project and can take responsibility.

It is inspiring to see so many people interested in the project. Many leave with the will to establish similar projects in the future.  

People often come with a need to find meaning, they have felt loneliness and are burnt out or just disillusioned by the standard urban lifestyle and modern values. They need a place to share, a place for bonding, for dreaming. A place to act and feel useful.

They come here tired and leave full of good energies, thankful for the experience. This might be the main function of a project like this, to heal and give hope.

Dio Pigadia is a public and open space that encourages bonds with the local community. Local villagers or tourists often come to visit, discover the project and meet the volunteers to share a rich moment of exchange.

We organize social events (Open Day every Τuesday) and want to be sharing as much as possible to inspire similar projects and practices.

In the future, we imagine many possibilities and dreams: opening even more to the public, inviting specialists of different fields to make seminars and workshops or even rebuilding an old traditional olive oil mill for people to visit.

It is hard to grasp the magic happening here. Come check it out for yourself: it has become a place of hope for the future where people get inspired and believe in an alternative for the future.

We aim to rebuild the soil in an ecological approach but also the human substrate, the bonding between people. The biodiversity of the soil reflects in the diversity and open-mindedness of the people supporting this project.

Let’s get together, work together, dream together!

Support Dio Pigadia and help us make a better world reality!

What others think about us

  • Avatar Soizic Brun ★★★★★ a month ago
    Amazing place where you can explore sustainable practices including composting, mulching, wood work, lacto-fermentation, low-technologies... in an interacting … More community. Jules is very willing to share his knowledge with you and explore shared governance. Don't miss this opportunity to live an off-grid experience.
  • Avatar Soffi Sandkühler ★★★★★ in the last week
    A wonderful farm with wonderful people.
    The vision of the place and the way that they think realistically about permaculture and self sustainability is
    … More inspiring!
    So if you get the chance to go there you should definitely go and enjoy your visit there!
    The area is amazing and the olives trees in combination with the wild see is a dream come true 🤩
  • Avatar We learn as we wander ★★★★★ 10 months ago
    My daughter and I only wanted to visit Dio Pigadia for one afternoon but we ended up staying three weeks. It was a truly great experience for us and we … More both enjoyed taking care of the animals, gardens and veggies on the farm and fell in love with this little paradise. We ate daily together with the other volunteers amazing fresh meals with very tasty vegetables from the garden, helped out at a beach clean up event and even went sailing together.
    Saying goodbye was a hard one here but we both know for sure we want to come back, so it's only bye for now and thank you for everything Jules.
    Lia, Jenny and Tito
  • Avatar Marjal Sykora ★★★★★ 9 months ago
    Dio Pigadia is a very beautiful place between olive trees. The month we was there was the best time of our trip through Greece and south europe. Jules … More is very friendly and he work at this project with all his possibilities and love. Also it was nice to known all the nice people and this way of life. I can tell recommend to go to this place and this people and see how life can work in a good way.
    Thanks for this experience Jules
    P. S. you should try the comfortable compost toilet ;) it's perfect.
    .
  • Avatar gil jarus ★★★★★ 9 months ago
    Such a lovely place! We stayed for three nights and felt home, the atmosphere is peaceful and welcoming, we were invited to help ourselves with everything … More the farm yields - vegetables, greens and eggs. the volunteers were friendly, and Jules hosted us so nicely, he showed us around the farm and kindly explained about the ways he operate the farm and the permaculture approach, he gave us so much knowledge with such a big smile, it was a pleasure!
  • Avatar Louise Olgiati ★★★★★ 5 months ago
    Had an amazing time at Dio Pigadia volunteering for 6 weeks. It was great to learn about gardening and permaculture, and to be part of such a welcoming … More community !
  • Avatar Lucas Bonnier-Kulik ★★★★★ 8 months ago
    I spent approximately 2 months alongside Jules and many other volunteers and it was for me one of my deepest experience I've never had. You live, … More learn, practice as if it was your family, your shared project that you support, a return to a sober living.
    Thank you for all, I'll never forget. Kiss
    Lucas
  • Avatar Séréna Duthilleux Giamoukis ★★★★★ 6 months ago
    A magical place with amazing people, Dio Pigadia feels like a second home, and I can’t wait to be back!
  • Avatar Jonas P. ★★★★★ 10 months ago
    A little paradise and a source of creativity. This place has a beautiful spirit as well as awesome human beings and animals. You have to visit it!
  • Avatar R Bungener ★★★★★ a year ago
    What an incredible place where nature and humans work in collaboration to enable sustainable living and agriculture.
    Not only is Dio Pigadia in gorgeous
    … More setting, in the hills between Pylos and Methani, the people there are also really nice. A must visit whether you're a volunteer or visiting the area (they do hope evenings on Fridays!).
    They also have rental cottages (Nectar Pylos) which are a gem to stay in if you're visiting.