Regenerative Agriculture

Dio Pigadia is a permaculture farm that experiments and promotes innovative and alternative farming methods. Permaculture represents a holistic approach that goes much beyond agriculture. It proposes an integrated organization of life at a local scale where food production is not externalized. But the transition to permaculture systems means rethinking our way of considering agriculture.

Are we organic?

We often get asked this question. No, we are not. And of course, we are. For the moment we didn’t think it was necessary to pay and struggle with administration to have a certification that proves we don’t use chemical fertilizers. First, it seems unfair that we would have to justify and pay for this when public money is injected generously into the conventional system (free spraying of the olives in the area…). It is crazy.

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Second, organic agriculture might be a step, but in many ways, it can be similar to conventional agriculture and doesn´t provide structural solutions. The idea here is not to criticize organic farming as a whole. We just defend a different option, more radical, which would eventually deserve a specific certification.

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

Both these methods, conventional and organic, rely on massive inputs of petrol to work the ground and make/import these products. This is not sustainable.

No dig/no till

We use the no dig/no till method to preserve life in the soil by not destroying its structure mechanically. The mechanical tilling 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, it is dead soil.

If you inspect the soil in a forest or under a bush in any place that hasn’t been exploited by agriculture, it will be much richer and have a proper structure, with air and humidity naturally maintained by the life in the soil. It is fertile, resilient, and protected from the elements, drought sun, wind, and rain… that wash off the nutrients and can turn soil into a desert. Floodings for example are mostly the consequences of conventional agriculture: have you ever seen a flood in a forest? No, because the soil can absorb huge amounts of water and store it.

We use organic matter (hay, wood chips, manure, residues from olive milling) to cover the soil as “mulch”.

This provides habitat and food for the biodiversity in the soil, which transforms it into fertility. This complex balanced soil full of life is also resilient against pests and diseases.

Biodiversity

Life organization is complex. We descover things that we would have not imagined some years ago. Yes plants communicate and exchange ressources together through the mushroom network. Yes bacterias work together with plants to create fertility. And there is so much we don’t know!

Low biodiversity systems (monoculture) are weak, prone to pests and deseases. That is why they need artificial pesticides and fertilizers to work. Protecting and enhancing biodiversity is at the heart of our approach. Biodiversity is the natural way to regulate pests and deseases.

fly

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 do much better.

All the elements of the system have a role to play, they have been selected over time for this reason. Symbiosis is everywhere. That is why 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. We leave a whole area of the plot where we don’t enter to leave it rewild itself, even if we lose the production of the olive trees…

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 a 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-enriches 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.

What others think about us

  • Avatar Soizic Brun ★★★★★ 2 months 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 We learn as we wander ★★★★★ 11 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 Soffi Sandkühler ★★★★★ a month ago
    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 Yarden Haik ★★★★★ 2 weeks ago
    We’ve stayed for a week in dio pigadia with my family as active guests. Our stay was beyond expectations. Stunning and comfortable place while it brings … More you back to basics. Thanks to the amazing staff and volunteers, we very fast felt part of the community. We highly recommend for a special experience in Peloponnese. All the family will take away something and reconnect with the essential laws of nature.
  • Avatar Yiaei Kasenda ★★★★★ 4 weeks ago
    Thank you Jules, Vaso and all the team for your warm welcome! We wish we could have stayed langer. What you people built up there in these few years is … More really amazing and impressively important. Good luck with everything that is yet to come! Can't wait to come back next year :) see you soon!
  • Avatar Willow Horsfall-Munden ★★★★★ 3 weeks ago
    An amazing experience with amazing people. We stayed for 2 months, we learnt so much, a place of sharing, enjoyment and caring. Living on the farm, in … More the olive trees, under the sun!
  • Avatar Marjal Sykora ★★★★★ 10 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 ★★★★★ 10 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 ★★★★★ 6 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 ★★★★★ 9 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