COB.GR: a review from Clementine! (august-september 2022)

This is an interview with Clememtine, taken part in Dio Pigadia – our permaculture Farm in Pylos, Greece.

How did you hear about COB?

Since I lived in Athens I began to search for alternative places in Greece and COB seemed to be the biggest organization at this time, in 2018. It was one of the only one on social media. So I started to follow their activity. Returned to France and followed them.

What do they do at COB?

They do eco-building with natural materials. They also focus on permaculture and regenerative agriculture. They give PDC courses (permaculture certificate). They began 20 years ago by planting many different species according to the teachings of Masanobu Fukuoka (a Japanese farmer and philosopher). They established a food forest in Nessonas near Larissa. It is amazing to see what they accomplished: a little oasis in the desert, a place full of life with many birds and other wild animals. Around it is mainly almond monoculture.
They are now specialised in alternative building solutions and work everywhere in Greece.
Now they are starting an Eco village. This was my mission there as an ESC volunteer.

What exactly is an ESC volunteer?

It is a EU exchange program with Erasmus. For short or long term, for 18 – 30 years old. You can get refunded your travel ticket and get pocket money (150e in Greece). I did a short term ESC for 24 days. You actually don´t have to be a student to do this.

How many ESC volunteers were staying there at this time?

We were 15 ESC volunteers from all over Europe and also 30 Youth Exchange which is another Erasmus program. In total we were 60 but this was exceptional. The others were here to learn and take classes as PDC or to follow workshops about ECO building.
It was amazing what we can do with so many people together in a few days.

What did you actually build?

A kiosk for the village with an oven, a grill, a meeting point with benches for the village nearby. It was nice to help the local community and build a place for sharing and exchanging. After my stay I got a “Youth Pass certificate” for eco-building and permaculture.

clem cob

What building techniques did you use?

Stone foundation and wood structure. For the walls we used cob, a mix of sand, straw, clay and water. To make it waterproof we used lime and marble powder. It is all natural alternative techniques with local materials.

How was the accommodation?

I arrived with my van. The others were in tents since it was the beginning of the project for the village. They had an amazing huge outdoor kitchen all equipped to make delicious vegan food for everybody. Also dry toilets and a showers. In the food forest nearby they had beautiful cob houses where we could chill and enjoy the shadow.

clem cob

What did you do during free time?

Mostly resting and relaxing. It was during summer so it was hot. But free time activities included waterfall hike, camping at the beach, visit of Meteora and Mount Olympus which is nearby. I was moving around with others in my van. It was also possible to take the bus or hitchhike (this was working very well in the area!)

What was for you the most interesting about your stay there?

It was to realise that with many people we can build everything we want in a sustainable way. I learned a lot about eco construction techniques. It was a great experience to live in a community with so many people from different countries (13 nationalities and 13 different English accents). To get to know each other and work together. I was happy to see that our generation regardless to which countries is sensitive to environmental issues. Our common point was to experiment how to live with nature and natural elements.

And what did you do after COB?

I wanted to see other projects in Greece, on a smaller scale. In COB – Building with earth they recommended me to Dio Pigadia in South Peloponnese. I am now doing a long term ESC program there.

What others think about us

  • Avatar Lucia Christ ★★★★★ a month ago
    Dio Pigadia...what a place!
    I came as a volunteer to stay for six weeks and it turned out to be such a great and interesting time. Learning "little"
    … More farming skills, building a relationships with all the animals around, laughing at the shared meals with all the other volunteers, getting an image about how we can treat our environment in a sustainable way...
    I would definitely recommend joining for some time as a volunteer or just looking by to enjoy some veggies and olive oil!
    Thanks for this experience Dio Pigadia and Jules, the "Master of Mesochori" (and the "chef" of the farm, but don't call him that ;)!
  • Avatar Marie Weiller ★★★★★ 4 months ago
    A little piece of heaven that also shows that another model of food production is possible: delicious vegetables, fruits, olive oil, cheeses, herbs... … More are produced and prepared with the help of nature at its best - balanced, generous and smart. This kind of environment brings out the best in people. I recommend going for a visit and seeing it with your own eyes.
  • Avatar Noel Gilmartin ★★★★★ 3 months ago
    I recently visited with our family during the August peak, when the farm is open to visitors on Friday evenings.
    It was a perfect evening and the atmosphere
    … More in this secluded, elevated location with the beautiful evening sky and stunning countryside, with views all around was truly magical. You could feel the presence of the ancients who surely farmed these hills before us!
    On arrival we received a really friendly welcome from Jules, the principal, who immediately invited us on a tour of the farm and was keen to explain everything about the philosophy of the operation.
    Jules, a Frenchman, is the kind of charismatic, almost messianic, personality that you can connect with right away.  He's a great communicator and a very open person who has great enthusiasm and energy for this project. He doesn't have fixed ideas about how the farm, which is still in the early stages of development, should proceed. He knows he's doing, but seems very open to ideas and suggestions - for example a volunteer had recently set up a website and social media presence for the farm.
    Jules is passionate above all about farming sustainably, and you can see this from the mulching on the soil (contrasting with the usual ploughing / cultivation).
    But the overall impression on this particular evening was of serenity and harmony of people together with nature.
    The products on offer taste fantastic - e.g. organic peppers & varieties of tomatoes, aubergines, and jars of ratatouille, tomato paste, olive oil... wow!
    Jules is also aware of the current alignment of Dio Pigadia with the post-Covid zeitgeist - the great awakening or reset of values - that life is more than the corporate 9 to 5,  (a bit like the Woodstock generation?), and there's a better partnership with nature to be achieved, especially through the smart use of technology now at our disposal. Volunteers work on the farm and for a variety of tasks - the perfect environment to experience nature, sustainable farming and companionship. Pay a visit and see for yourself!
  • Avatar Hans Van Dam ★★★★★ 3 months ago
    The combination sailor and landman is a common one on the islands in the Netherlands (in the old days). It was very nice to see Jules recalling that principle … More in Greece again.
    He is equally good and dedicated to both.
    His dedication is seen for sailing in the beautiful work he did on his wooden sailboat and even more in his diligence with which he started and developed this lovely Dio Pigadia 9km from the sea.
    Using old and often forgotten principles of cultivating the earth and crop, he developed the most fantastic veggie garden and olive tree orchard.
    He is the one giving you biological olive oil and vegetables with the real taste they should have and nutritional value that mono culture farmers have long time forgotten.
    And for volunteers: the relaxed atmosphere Jules and your colleagues have on Dio Pigadia is enough reason to apply for a place where you can learn about permaculture.
    It was a real pleasure to meet you and I wish you all succes you deserve. Good Luck.
    Hans, Zephyr
  • Avatar Franciska Suryapranata ★★★★★ 4 months ago
    Such an amazing place! A must see. Especially to see that another world is possible!! So much love and attention has been put in it. Great veggies, olive … More oil and other home made products. Go and see and taste and experience!! (And meet skordo and vuno!!)
  • Avatar Joel Burghardt (Lightweb Media) ★★★★★ 4 months ago
    I can recommend this Place! We had a unique experience with great people from all around the world, fresh fruits, gardening, animals
  • Avatar Theresa Aston ★★★★★ 4 months ago
    Very impressive small-scale farm in the Peloponnese region of Greece. The olive oil they produce is the best I’ve ever had, as well as the tomatoes, eggplant… … More everything here is delicious! Truly a (healthy) culinary experience! The owner Jules is a very inspiring guy with a refreshing philosophy of what sustainable living entails. Don’t miss an opportunity to visit! Definitely worth it for the delicious food, friendly animals, and beautiful community :)
  • Avatar Sani ★★★★★ 4 months ago
    I was lucky to spend two months volunteering in this amazing farm and see it build up moment to moment! A tribute to all permaculture principles. If the … More road takes you there, just make sure you visit and say hello to Jules for me! Love you guys 💋💋💜💜
  • Avatar Sybille J ★★★★★ 4 months ago
    Lovely vegetables, fruits, products and people! Amazing to discover how things can be done differently to respect the planet.
  • Avatar Nectar Cottages ★★★★★ 4 months ago
    Dio pigadia is doing a Grate job amazing fresh products basing on the premaculture respect to the environment !! And of courses the new passion for creativity … More sculpting the olive wood!! Keep doing!