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I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Director of the Mediterranean
Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh), Alkinoos Nikolaidis, for giving me this
opportunity to spend some time exploring the intricacies of the food system on Crete.
I would also like to thank the Coordinator of the Sustainable Agriculture Department,
Dr. Yannis Livieratos, for his consistent trust in my dedication to this work (in spite
of my frequent absences), his great support of my desires to conduct an unorthodox
research project, and, finally, his guidance concerning life in Crete.

I express my greatest thanks to my advisor for this project, Dr. Emmanouil
Kambourakis, for completely understanding the background to and my motivations
for conducting this study, providing me with the support and encouragement to make
it happen, and reassurance that I am not alone in the pursuit of an idyllic agro-food

I would also like to thank the Organizing Committee of the Forward Look: European
Food Systems in a Changing World for providing me with insight into current
research being conducted in this area.

Especially, I would like to thank all the farmers and business owners who took time
from their busy workdays to enthusiastically allow me to ask them endless questions.

A very loud thanks goes out to all the translators who have become friends and
friends who became translators: Yiorgos Eleftheriou, Adamantia Kotinakki, Dimitris
Niklis, Agapi Vassiliou, and Evangelia Voutsaki. Without you I would still be
stuttering through interviews.

To all my family across the ocean, thanks for all your love and support from afar and
your understanding of my tendency to leave the country. To my family here: the two
best best men (koumbaroi), Cristos and Yiorgos; the two best classmates, Melania and
Maher; and the best co-procrastinator, Ata. I greatly appreciate all the distractions,
unending assistance in adjusting to life in Greece, and mostly, the laughter.

While the omission of their names signifies only a lack of room on the page, I would
also like to thank all the new friends from all these new places, and all the old friends
from the old place, to whom I owe a greater understanding of the world and myself.

Finally, I would like to thank David. Without him, I would be only another student.


Acknowledgements ........................................................................................................... ii
List of Tables .................................................................................................................... vi
List of Figures.................................................................................................................. vii
Glossary of Foreign Terms............................................................................................ viii
Abstract............................................................................................................................. ix
Chapter 1 - Introduction .................................................................................................. 1
1.1 A New Paradigm in Agriculture ............................................................................... 2
1.2 Rationalization/Contribution of Study...................................................................... 3
1.3 Outline of Thesis Chapters ....................................................................................... 4
Chapter 2 - Literature Review......................................................................................... 6
2.1 Setting the Stage for Change .................................................................................... 6
2.2 A Picture of Greek Agriculture................................................................................. 8
2.3 The Food System, A Changing Global Environment, and Sustainability .............. 10
2.3.1 Food Systems Defined ..................................................................................... 12 Local Food Systems: Short Supply Chains or Community-based Food
Systems ................................................................................................................. 14
2.3.2 Sustainability Through the Food System......................................................... 15
2.4 Chapter Summary ................................................................................................... 17
Chapter 3 - Methodology................................................................................................ 18
3.1 Secondary Data: Farm Structure Survey and the National Statistics Service of
Greece ........................................................................................................................... 19
3.2 Interviews................................................................................................................ 19
3.2.1 Wholesaler Interviews ..................................................................................... 19
3.2.2 Farmer Interviews ............................................................................................ 19
3.2.3 Market Organizers’ Interviews ........................................................................ 20
3.3 Site Observations .................................................................................................... 20
3.4 Analysis .................................................................................................................. 21
Chapter 4 - Case Studies ................................................................................................ 22
4.1 Chania Prefecture.................................................................................................... 22
4.1.1 General Statistical Indicators ........................................................................... 22
4.1.2 Farming Ethos/Philosophy............................................................................... 23 Chania Common Market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά)................................. 24
4.1.3 Production/Land Use Data............................................................................... 26

iii Vegetable Production................................................................................ 26 Land Use ................................................................................................... 28
4.1.4 Distribution Data.............................................................................................. 29 Chania Wholesale Vegetable Market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά)............ 29 Wholesale Vegetable Market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) Purchases ....... 30 Wholesale Vegetable Market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) Sales............... 31
4.2 Heraklio Prefecture ................................................................................................. 34
4.2.1 General Statistical Indicators ........................................................................... 34
4.2.2 Farming Ethos/Philosophy............................................................................... 34
4.2.3 Production Data ............................................................................................... 35 Vegetable Production................................................................................ 35 Land Use ................................................................................................... 37
4.2.4 Distribution Data.............................................................................................. 38 Heraklio Wholesale Vegetable Market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) ......... 39 Wholesale Vegetable Market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) Purchases ....... 39 Wholesale Vegetable Market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) Sales............... 41
4.3 Island of Crete......................................................................................................... 43
4.3.1 General Statistical Indicators ........................................................................... 43
4.3.2 Farming Ethos/Philosophy............................................................................... 43
4.3.3 Production Data ............................................................................................... 44 Vegetable Production................................................................................ 44 Land Use ................................................................................................... 46
4.3.4 Distribution Data.............................................................................................. 47 Definition of Retailers............................................................................... 48 Wholesale Vegetable Market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) ........................ 49 Direct Sales ............................................................................................... 51 Wholesalers/Exporters .............................................................................. 52
4.3.5 Consumption .................................................................................................... 52
Chapter 5 - The Cretan Food System and Sustainability ........................................... 54
5.1 Small, Diversified and Local is More Sustainable ................................................. 54
5.1.1 Small, Diverse Farming Systems..................................................................... 55
5.1.2 Local Distribution Systems and Diverse Local Markets ................................. 57
5.1.3 Consumer Preferences to Local Food .............................................................. 60

5.2 Barriers to Greater Sustainability ........................................................................... 62
5.2.1 Farmer Production Practices ............................................................................ 62
5.2.2 Lack of Consumer Support and Presence of International Supermarkets ....... 62
5.2.3 Government Support........................................................................................ 63
Chapter 6 - Conclusions ................................................................................................. 64
6.1 Recommendations for Further Research................................................................. 67
Reference List.................................................................................................................. 70
Appendix A - Distributor Survey .................................................................................. 75
Appendix B - Wholesale Vegetable Market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) Survey ...... 78
Appendix C - Common Market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) Administration Survey 81
Appendix D – Producer Survey ..................................................................................... 83
Appendix E - Chania Prefecture Survey/Interview Results ....................................... 84
Appendix F - Heraklio Prefecture Survey/Interview Results ................................... 100


Table 1. Chania Major Vegetable Crops (by production)................................................ 27
Table 2. Land Use in Chania, by Category...................................................................... 28
Table 3. Origin of Product – Chania wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/
λαχαναγορά) .............................................................................................................. 31
Table 4. Geographic Distribution of Product................................................................... 32
Table 5. Distribution of Product by Type of Retail Operation ........................................ 32
Table 6. Heraklio Major Vegetable Crops (by production)............................................. 37
Table 7. Land Use in Heraklio, by Category ................................................................... 38
Table 8. Origin of Product – Heraklio Wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/
λαχαναγορά) .............................................................................................................. 40
Table 9. Geographic Distribution of Product................................................................... 41
Table 10. Distribution of Product by Type of Retail Operation ...................................... 42
Table 11. Crete Major Vegetable Crops (by production) ................................................ 45
Table 12. Total Tractor Use in Crete ............................................................................... 46
Table 13. Land Use in Crete, by Category....................................................................... 46


Figure 1. Food systems and their drivers .......................................................................... 13
Figure 2. An illustration of a sustainable food system...................................................... 16
Figure 3. Map of Greece, detailing location of Crete ....................................................... 22
Figure 4. Map of Crete, detailing location of Chania Prefecture...................................... 22
Figure 5. Map of Crete, detailing location of Heraklio Prefecture ................................... 34
Figure 6. Distribution of Cretan Production Through Wholesale Vegetable Market....... 47
Figure 7. Scale Representation of Origin of Product........................................................ 50
Figure 8. Scale Illustration of the Supply Chain............................................................... 59


Έμπορος (emboros) - Any company buying product wholesale and offering it for
retail sale. In the case of this study, it refers to food products.

Κηπευτικά (kipeftika) - This word is used when referring to any usually annual crops
grown in the field that are not grain crops (wheat, barley, rye, maize, etc). It
generally includes vegetables and fruits such as watermelons and sometimes

Λαχαναγορά (lachanagora) - A wholesale market, but dealing strictly in fruits and
vegetables. Literally translated, it means "vegetable market".

Λαϊκή αγορά (laiki agora) - This is an open air, temporary market where farmers and
resellers offer their product directly to consumers. They usually are located in
different areas of a city on different days of the week and operate only in the
morning hours (usually from 8am-2pm). Literally translated, it means "common

Στρέμματα (stremma/stremmata) - The Greek measurement of land, each 1/10 of an
hectare (1000 square meters) or approximately 1/4 of the U.S. acre.

Ταβερνα (taverna) - A restaurant, but one that offers home-cooked style food often
run by a single family and offering only traditional or common Greek cuisine.


This study investigates the methods of production and maps the normal distribution of
vegetables and melons within and from the island of Crete to investigate the island’s
potential to develop a fully sustainable, localized food system. The small diversified
farms, geographic isolation of an island environment, fertile soils for vegetable
production, and Mediterranean growing climate coupled with a large range of
altitudes provides, in theory, a suitable foundation for the development of a
sustainable and localized food system within Crete. Through case studies, this study
examines the typology of production and maps the distribution of vegetables and
melons produced on the island as the first step to determining the current level of food
system sustainability, and opportunities and barriers for greater sustainability. The
findings show that in the case of fresh vegetable and melon production, Crete’s
consumption is heavily based on locally grown product which is produced on small,
diversified farms.



The paradigm driving agriculture for the past fifty years has been built around two
goals: maximizing profit and maximizing production (Gliessman, 1998). To reach
these goals, the portrait of agriculture has changed: farms consolidated, mechanized,
experienced an intensification of inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, water), an influx of
capital (Gliessman, 1998), and began to participate in the global marketplace
(Halweil, 2002). A food system once based around regional activities has grown to be
a global web of complex interactions, transactions and dependencies. And while this
model has certainly increased the overall production of food, it has done so without
consideration for or attention to the resultant environmental and social costs
(Gliessman, 1998; Abate, 2008). As a result, we are noticing changes emerging in the
production, distribution and consumption patterns of food.

A modern food system is defined as having four activities: production, processing and
packaging, distribution, and retailing and consumption (Ericksen, 2007). Over the last
fifty years, the food system has undergone a number of changes in each stage of the
system. Productivity increases have occurred worldwide, yielding more per each
measure of input. The nature of production has changed from a small, diversified
system dependent upon the knowledge and skill of the grower to a mechanized,
system with a homogenization of inputs and outputs. In general, the entire food
system has experienced homogenization: now, one or a handful of companies can
own the entire chain of production through consumption. This vertical integration
coupled with advancements in transportation and storage technology has inflated and
pushed an agenda of free market initiatives, encouraging the world-wide distribution
of fresh foods, which was economically and physically infeasible in years past
(Rabbinage, 2008).


1.1 A New Paradigm in Agriculture
The old paradigm is shifting however. The twin evils of rising input costs and the fact
that market prices do not always increase relative to these costs, can result in an
overall decrease of farming profits1 (Schluter, 2007; Connolly, 2008). Environmental
damage caused by industrial farming techniques has degraded the very resources upon
which agriculture depends: soil, water resources, and genetic diversity (Gliessman,
1998). The motivation of increased production in the name of food security is being
replaced by a consumer measurement of quality based around taste and nutrition, and
an increased awareness for how the current production methods degrade natural
resources and actually put food security of rural communities in jeopardy
(Schweisfurth, 2002; Ericksen, 2007). This paradigm shift is happening as much out
of necessary as opportunity; unless industrial agriculture reduces its heavy
dependence on petroleum-based inputs and the environmental detriment this type of
production causes is reversed, the cost of producing and shipping food in the current
manner could soon outrun profits, as farmers could experience decreasing yields.

Now that the environmental, social, and economic impacts of these long food supply
chains are beginning to emerge, it is imperative to find appropriate solutions to the
detriment this system has caused within each stage of the food system. Through the
assessment of existing food systems, opportunities for improvement towards the goal
of greater sustainability in the food sector may become apparent. Through
incorporating technological advances in the production of food while focusing on
quality of production, reduced environmental detriment and long term economic
viability for farmers and still providing an affordable product, a more sustainable
method of producing and distributing food can be developed. This more sustainable
food system is one that is based around local or regional communities and benefits
farmers, consumers, and the environment upon which both depend. Furthermore, a

This trend could continue into the future: as a result of increasing input costs and a downturn
in prices, the American Farm Bureau Federation issued a statement that in the current
weakening economy, farmers could likely experience lower profits in the future and “farmers
will still need to find new ways to market their crops” in order to maintain current profit
margins (American Farm Bureau, 2008).

localized, sustainable, production system may allow for growth and rural development
keeping in character with the specific needs of the rural communities.

1.2 Rationalization/Contribution of Study
The island of Crete presents an interesting opportunity to study sustainability within a
food system. As an island, dependency upon outside inputs is crucial as most
agricultural inputs common to vegetable and fruit production have to be shipped to
the island. Additionally, agriculture on Crete is well developed and has a well
established distribution system. It also is a tourist destination and therefore has a great
demand for available food above that of its year-long population. The resources and
needs of the island present an appealing case study to determine the feasibility of
creating a sustainable localized food system.

This study investigates the methods of production and maps the normal distribution of
vegetables and melons (kipeftika/κηπευτικά)2 within and from the island of Crete to
determine its potential to develop a fully sustainable, localized food system. The small
diversified farms, the existence of fertile soils excellent for vegetable production
(especially in costal areas), geographic isolation of an island environment (making
input importation costly and difficult), and Mediterranean growing climate coupled
with a large range of altitudes provides, in theory, the conditions to enable a
sustainable and localized food system within Crete. Through case studies, this study
will map the production and distribution of vegetables and melons
(kipeftika/κηπευτικά) as a first step to determining the current level of sustainability,
and opportunities for the island to achieve a higher level of sustainability.
Specifically, the study will seek to address the following questions, through case
studies, in order to gain a greater understanding about the sustainability of production
and distribution on the island:
• What percentage of vegetables and melons (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) available on
the island are produced on the island?

See Glossary of Foreign Terms for a definition of foreign terms used.

• What are the channels through which vegetables and melons
(kipeftika/κηπευτικά) produced on Crete travel?
• What is the general state of production of vegetables and melons
(kipeftika/κηπευτικά) on Crete, including the farmers' philosophies as a part of
the food system?

1.3 Outline of Thesis Chapters
This thesis is broken down into the following chapters: literature review,
methodology, case study results, a discussion about the overall food system and a

Chapter two presents a review of the literature available on the topic of food systems
analysis, the state of agriculture in Greece, and a defense for local food systems as
exemplary sustainable food systems.

Chapter three summarizes the methods used to address the research questions. It
provides a description of how and from where secondary data was obtained, the
mechanism for identifying interviewees to obtain the primary data, and a description
of how site observations were also included in the research methods.

Chapter four provides a complete picture of the case study area by reporting both
primary and secondary data, and includes information about the production methods
and farm typologies as well as the distribution streams for the types of vegetables of
interest for this study.

Chapter five summarizes the findings through the lens of sustainability. It provides
notes about areas where Cretan agriculture meets the definitions of sustainability and
where there are opportunities for improvement in this area. It also provides an
overview of the complete picture of the distribution channels for vegetables and
melons (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) produced on the island.

Chapter six contains concluding remarks/thoughts about the study and identifies areas
for further research to provide greater support for the possibility of Crete to exemplify
a local, sustainable food system.


2.1 Setting the Stage for Change
Progress in agriculture worldwide over the last 50 years has been measured mostly on
a scale of efficiency (Holloway, 2007) which required the adaptation of measures to
increase productivity; mainly the mechanization and simplification of agricultural
systems. This mechanization and simplification is represented by monocultures and
vertical integration3 of the production – consumption chain, in the name of food
security (Ericksen, 2007). The driving factor in the development of this industrialized
and efficient agricultural system4 was to minimize the uncertainties in and lower the
costs of production applying assembly-line process to simplify the materials and
processes (harvesting, weed control, etc) so they could be controlled with the greatest
accuracy. In order to maximize the production and distribution of food - and therefore
availability - the industrialization of agriculture attempts to minimize uncertainties of
weather and the resultant production yield with the introduction of external inputs
(fertilizers, pesticides, etc) and mechanization of harvesting. While efficiency in
production systems produced greater volumes of food on small areas, markets for this
food needed to be located. Coupled with new technologies and subsidies that made
shipping less expensive, the global food trade filled this gap. In 2000, companies
shipped an estimated 817 million tons – nearly US$417 billion worth - of food round
the world (Halweil, 2002). Much of these distribution patterns fly against common
sense, with countries importing items that can and are produced domestically. Much

Vertical integration is defined as the extent to which a firm owns its upstream suppliers and
its downstream buyers. The typical vertically integrated chain in the food system consists of a
firm, often a life science firm, that controls the seed production, growth, processing,
distribution, and retailing of a product. The farm plays a role in this process, providing labor
and capital, but does not make management decisions about the product (Hefferman et al.,
The Union of Concerned Scientists defines industrial agriculture as a method of production
that “views the farm as a factory with “inputs” (fertilizers, pesticides, feed, fuel) and
“outputs” (corn chickens, etc). The goal is to increase yield and decrease costs of production,
usually by exploiting economies of scale.”


of this is a result of “subsidized transportation, centralized buying by supermarkets
and food manufactures, and trade agreements that set food import quotas even for
self-sufficient nations” (Halweil, 2002).

However, recent agricultural trends have driven change in the production and
distribution of food from that of maximizing efficiency to maximizing quality. This
paradigm shift is a result of the growing awareness that agriculture has great influence
in global environmental concerns (such as climate change) and food (specifically
consumption patterns) is intimately linked to community health (Holloway, 2007;
Ericksen, 2007). However, studies concerning these relationships have remained
mostly in the realm of production practices and their environmental impact or
consumption habits and their effect on diet-related illnesses (Lockie, 2000). The idea
that a food system is not a linear cause-reaction relationship is relatively new.
Discussions are now emerging that link production, distribution, and marketing of
food with communities’ economic, social, and environmental stability (Marsen,
2000). This understanding is also exhibited outside of academia with the development
of “alternative food systems”5 as the solution to the economic, social and
environmental problems brought about by the previous paradigm in agriculture to
maximize productivity at any cost.

In many developed nations, these alternative food systems came about as a rejection
of the industrialization of agriculture. Farmers began to see the impact of their
production systems and communities of consumers realized the influence of their
purchases, and as a replacement for the current industrialized food system, producer-
consumer systems were developed that placed emphasis on environmental, social and
economic sustainability in agriculture. However, in Greece, the industrialization of
agriculture was of a different nature and the consolidation of farms, monocultures and
vertically integrated and distant supply chains dominating the mainstream food

An ‘alternative food system’ is a catchall phrase referring to the production and procurement
of food in any way outside of the mainstream agro-industrial complex. Alternative food
systems generally encompass “community food systems”, “sustainable food systems” or
“local food systems” which are discussed in further detail later in this chapter.

system are less prevalent. This provides a unique opportunity to further develop its
mainstream agricultural systems within the new paradigm of agriculture, as one that
adopts many of the principals of the alternative food systems.

2.2 A Picture of Greek Agriculture
While the progress in agriculture in Greece following WWII is unquestionable, the
country as a whole managed to escape a complete shift from subsistence or extensive
farming systems6 to industrial agricultural production. During this time Greek
production systems incorporated the new technologies available, as illustrated by an
increase in the use of tractors and chemical fertilizers, selective breeds or varieties,
and a resultant greater yield. However, agriculture in Greece was never organized into
an agri-business characterized by an assumption of endless productivity, maximum
mobilization of labor, and simplification of the structures of production (Damianakos,
1997). Even while policies encouraged the development of agri-businesses, the family
farm remains the core of Greek agriculture. During this development, Greek
agriculture moved to a “semi-peripheral position” (Damianakos, 1997) where rural
exodus was countered by the tendency of families to keep the agricultural land and at
least one member to remain there to maintain it. This cultural phenomenon of
remaining attached to the land, coupled with land reform until the 1950’s, gave rise to
a type of agriculture which was something between capitalist agriculture and
subsistence farming: Greek farms raise product for home consumption and sell the
excess. According to Damianakos (1997), agriculture in Greece
…has managed to establish wise compromises with room for change
while preserving what is essential. The essence of peasantry remains the
integrity and solidity of the primary group (family, kin, and the face-to-
face village society) which gives priority to horizontal over vertical bonds

Extensive production systems are effective land use systems which allow using scarce
natural resources in rural semi-arid and highland-lowland areas. In semi-arid properties they
are characterized by improved tillage, residue management, plant arrangement (row spacing
and plant population) to optimize the crop water supply and fertility to minimize production
risk (Gerik, 2004). While extensive production systems are often overlooked when
considering value in agriculture, they offer a significant contribution both socially and
economically and show promise as a way to keep youth in farming offering a promising way
of life and as a way to reduce migration towards urban centers.

so as to enable the individual to find his place in a world where
depersonalized, fragmented or desperately functional relationships
prevail. …Greek peasantry accepts being closely integrated into global
society, only if this integration does not, as modernity tends to, break up
elementary social structures.

Even though it has not developed into an agri-business typology, Greek agriculture
remains a mainstay of the Greek economy and culture. According to Damianos
(1997), Greece maintains a high level of self-sufficiency for most crops and
agricultural products contribute a significant, if declining, percentage of the total
exports from Greece. Beopolus (1997) further valuates the unique position of
agriculture in Greece by stating that the extensive production systems that remain
prevalent in Greek agriculture not only have cultural and social importance, but
because of the tendency towards “traditional” methods of production, they use fewer
resources and are a significant contributor to the conservation of natural habitats.

Furthermore Kasimis (1997) states how Greece’s accession into the European Union
resulted in divisions within intensively farmed areas that resulted in both the division
of land and greater pluriactivity 7. An exploration into the typology of rural
communities in Europe discusses the relationship between urban and rural areas and
how these reflect on the stability, success and therefore sustainability of agricultural
communities (Boscacci, 1999). It specifically mentions pluriactivity as a necessary
component for the maintenance of a community in agriculture in the future. By
integrating activities that are complimentary to agriculture, the community becomes
more economically viable. Specifically, a successful rural community is determined
by the presence of strong agricultural activities, the integration of agricultural
activities with the food industry, and diversification of the rural economy into various
sectors (other than and including agriculture) (Boscacci, 1999). Using this definition
of success, the study determined several indicators to assess the productivity and
importance of agriculture within a rural community as prediction of its success as a

Agricultural pluriactivity is described as both part-time farming and a farming household
that receives income from activities other than farming (such as the employment of a spouse
in an industry other than agriculture).

rural, agricultural community. For both indicators, generally in Greece and
specifically all areas of Crete were determined to have a high level of productivity and
give agriculture high importance within the community as a whole. The study
concludes that in “successful” rural areas, where agriculture has a great importance
and is integrated with the urban communities and other industries, pressures such as
urban sprawl and urban migration will not have so great a negative affect on the
presence of agriculture in these communities (Boscacci, 1999). This conclusion shows
promise for Greece, and especially Crete, to maintain its distinct but integrated urban
and rural areas, and a strong possibility that it will maintain its character as an
agricultural rural community. Another study (Vidal, 2001) counters this argument
with a differing typology of rural communities. In his study, several indicators show
the lack of sustainability of the agricultural sector in Greece. Vidal (2001) argues that
indicators such as a high average age of farmers, low percentage of young farmers,
and low gross domestic product (GDP) per capita all point to a limited vitality and
sustainability of agriculture in Greece.

As illustrated by the contrasting conclusions of these two studies, the future of
agriculture is dependent on a number of factors, a main player of which is policy. It
has been stated that instead of encouraging this cooperation and exchange between
urban and rural areas, government involvement in rural development in Greece is
focused around supporting and maintaining traditionalism rather than incorporating
the traditional ideals into the modernization of the sector (Damianakos, 1997). The
type of farming that is prevalent in many areas in Greece, especially in the island
areas, and the tendency of policy to overlook the integral relationship agriculture has
in both urban and rural development, presents an interesting opportunity to explore
the concept of sustainability as applied through a food systems analysis.

2.3 The Food System, A Changing Global Environment, and Sustainability
The industrial, agri-business method of food production depends on often expensive
imported inputs (fertilizers, fuel, pesticides, etc)—which in many cases generate harm
to the environment—and exploit locally available natural resources in order to

maintain a profit-driven efficiency of scale. These types of production systems are
generally considered unsustainable because of their abuse of local resources (such as
water and soil), large dependence on external resources (such as fossil fuels), and
consumption of these resources at rates much greater than the rate of regeneration
(Horrigan, 2002; Plath, 2003). Additionally, the environmental detriment caused by
industrial farming has greater societal costs (i.e. soil erosion, water pollution, and
biodiversity loss), which are not reflected in the cost of production (hidden costs)8.
Furthermore, the mainstay of industrial agriculture – the large, mechanized farm – has
been shown to erode rural communities by concentrating the wealth in the hands of
the few farm owners (Horrigan, 2002). Throughout the developed nations, this
method of production has replaced the historical norm of proximity agriculture, driven
not only by a focus on maximizing production but also by the growing presence of
international food retailers and industrial food supply structures (Aubry, 2008;
Ericksen, 2007).

The growing presence of industrial agriculture and global food systems and its
weaknesses9 has led to the development of more sustainable, healthful methods of
food production and distribution. Subsequently, the paradigm driving growth in
agriculture is beginning to change direction; the concern is no longer focused solely
on quantity, but rather quality (Holloway, 2007; Directorate General for Research,
2007). This paradigm shift is further supported by the slow realization that this
intensive form of food production will not be able to support a growing population in
light of its heavy dependence on fossil fuels and the declining availability of these

This would be considered an “externality” or external costs that affect individuals who
cannot directly affect a decision or economic transaction within a company. For example, an
unacceptable level of nitrates in a municipal water system caused by runoff from chemical
fertilizers on a farm could cause an excess cost to the municipality to bring the concentration
down to a level considered safe for a drinking water supply. The taxpayers in a municipality
have no ability to affect fertilizer use on the farm.
Weaknesses of the industrial food system range from environmental concerns (biodiversity
loss, soil erosion, water overuse and pollution) to concerns about the effects of an industrial
food system on public health (the presence of genetically engineered (GE) foods and an
increase in widespread food-borne pathogen outbreaks).

In contrast, and as a solution, individuals have been turning to alternative forms of
food production which are reflective of a provincial system; one that is maintained
locally and that closes the production-consumption cycle as much as possible. These
alternative food systems have revolved mostly around the ideals of a community
based food system (Garrett, 1999) or a short supply-chain concept (Aubry, 2008).

2.3.1 Food Systems Defined
As mentioned earlier, a food system consists of four main activities: production,
processing/packaging, distribution and consumption. Ericksen (2007) describes the
food system as a “chain of activities from production (the field) to consumption (the
table) with particular emphasis on the processing and marketing and the multiple
transformations of food that these entail”. A conventional, industrial food system
focuses on capital as the single factor against which all decisions within the food
system are made. Since those who hold the capital have typically been the producers,
the power within the food system remains in production. In a conventional food
system, this means mostly the large agribusiness owners of the production systems are
usurping all decision making power and removing the possibility of influence from
the consumers or anyone outside the business (Davis, 2004). This simplistic model is
generally inflexible and unresponsive to issues beyond the means of production and
results in an impersonal system without the ability to respond to individual,
environmental and social problems.

In response to this rather rigid understanding of the food system, studies have begun
to explore a more relational and network-orientated understanding. The concept of a
producer/capital driven system is replaced by the understanding that each of the
activities in the food system - and the political, environmental and social backdrop
against which these activities are presented - are influential. Mardsen (2000) further
explains that in order to properly study a food system, and later affect positive change
within the system, it is important to understand not only the system, but how it
changes: studies must explore how the system is built, how it is formed and by what

means it is reproduced over time. In short, a food system is not only the activities of
production, processing, distribution, and consumption, but includes all its diverse
inputs, the costs and benefits of these activities for individuals, the environment and
society at large and how each part relates to the other. Figure 1 details a more holistic
understanding of a food system including many of the possible realms of influence
and relationships.

Figure 1. Food systems and their drivers (Ericksen, 2007)

This more relational definition of the food system allows for influences beyond a
capitalistic bottom line. It is dependent upon an understanding that a food system is
fundamentally complex and it is through the embracing of these complexities that a
system that is reflective of the needs of a community as a whole can develop. It is
from this greater understanding of a food network – one that is based around the
relationships between the food system activities and the natural environment and
socioeconomic concerns – that alternative food systems have developed to produce
outcomes that are positively contributing to food security, environmental security and
other societal concerns. Alternative food systems are dependent upon the actualization
of these relationships in tangible terms and disseminate the power from one business
to all components in the system. They seemed to have developed as a reaction to the
shortcomings of the industrialized food system and as a way to reestablish power

within the food system to enable control by more than just one self-serving entity
(Halloway, 2007).

Through the understanding of the relationships within a food system, the actual
effects of each of the activities are clearly understood and can then be adjusted
according to the need of the entire system. Because relationships are a driving force
behind these systems, they are almost by definition based in geographic proximity to
each other – i.e localized food systems (Davis, 2004). It is because they are closely
related, geographically and affectively, that the outcomes of each activity are clearly
influential on other parts of the system and through feedback each activity can be
adjusted in order to maintain positive outcomes for the whole system. Local Food Systems: Short Supply Chains or Community-based Food Systems
There seems to be two schools of literature revolving around the concept of localized
food systems; one refers to short supply chains and the other to a community-based
food systems. Both definitions describe ‘reterritorialized’ alternative food networks in
contrast to the conventional ‘deterritorialized’ food systems. A short food supply
chain is characterized “by a very low number of intermediates between the consumer
and the producer and/or a small geographical distance between both” (Aubrey, 2008).
Additionally, Mardsen (2000) includes the ability of these short supply chains to
engender different relationships between producers and consumers and its ability to
place value on the relationship itself in addition to valuating the product. The
literature describing short food supply chains focuses on the ability to engender some
form of connection between producer and consumer, but not necessarily one that is a
face-to-face interaction. Mardsen (2000) concludes that within short food supply
chains the importance does not rest with the number of intermediaries or distance
through which a product travels, but rather with the information about production and
place that is embedded with that product.

Community based food systems go beyond this definition to include an analysis based
more around the relationships built within a food system. The accepted definition of a

community based food system is a system in which food production, processing,
distribution and consumption are integrated to enhance the environmental, economic,
and social health of a particular place (Garrett, 1999; McCullum, 2004). A community
based food system includes the needs of farmers, processors/packers, and consumers
in decisions about the proper methods with which food is produced, marketed and
consumed. This definition of a local food system generally assumes a close
geographic area in order to discover the needs of each player and allow the effective
management of the system in order to meet these needs.

2.3.2 Sustainability Through the Food System
There has been much written about the benefits of locally based food systems. In
Europe, the literature looks at the opportunities of short supply chains as a
methodology of rural development (Mardsen, 2000). Short food supply chains are
seen as a way for rural areas to create additional regional value and create a policy of
development that meets the needs of both rural and urban communities. The
discussion in North America, based around community food systems, emphasizes the
reorganization of control of the food system in an effort to create a new system that
emphasized environmental and social justice, and economic relationships that are
beyond the monetary bottom line. Halloway (2007) emphasizes the need in each of
these cases to move away from the alignment with the alternative and instead focus on
methodologies which allow the opportunity to shift the entire system from one
focused around the accumulation of capital to one that is focused around social,
economical, and ethical concerns. In this way we can begin to address sustainability
within the food system from all affected angles.

A recent study by the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs (DEFRA) evaluates the applicability of food miles10 as a measure of

Food miles are defined as the distance food travels from farm to the consumer. Since
localized food networks – either short supply chains or community food systems – refer to a
generally localized geographic area from farm to table, it is assumed that the distance food
travels could be reflective of its inclusion in a localized food network.

sustainability and its findings state that food miles cannot be the only indicator when
assessing sustainability (Smith, 2005). This conclusion supports the notion that the
food systems have to be reviewed from an understanding of the complex nature of the
food production-consumption chain and that sustainability within a food system needs
to incorporate the affect of each activity within the food system.

Figure 2. An illustration of a sustainable food system (Garrett 1999)

Figure 2 is a clear illustration of the effects each activity of a food system has on the
others. Sustainability is the capacity of something – in this case the food system – to
meet its present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to also
meet their needs (American Dietetic Association, 2007). At the center of each idea is
the notion of sustainability, and each activity must play its part to ensure its actions
are not exploiting any other participant. A production system at the peak of

environmental sustainability is not feasible within the system if the product is too
expensive (and therefore compromises social equity by pricing the product out of
range for the majority of consumers). The other side, where environmental health is
exploited in exchange for economic success is characteristic of the failing existing
industrial food system. Each part must maintain a balance with the other players in
order to achieve overall sustainability.

2.4 Chapter Summary
The unique situation of agriculture in Greece presents a great opportunity for the
exploration of sustainability within its food system. It already has the foundation for a
localized and relational food system; production systems that are diverse, closely
related to nearby urban centers, and often experience pluriactivity. The literature
presents a foundation for defining sustainability within a food system and at its
current state of development, Greece could take advantage of these discoveries and
the growing interest in and need to develop more sustainable methods of food
production, distribution and consumption while developing its rural economies.


Two types of data were collected to address the questions of this study. Secondary
research was gathered from the Farm Structure Survey and other government sources
to examine trends in production. Primary qualitative exploratory research was
conducted in the two most populated prefectures of Crete: Chania and Heraklio. The
concentration and diversity of farming and the density of population of these two
areas is believed to be representative of the whole island’s state of vegetable and
melon (kipeftika/κηπευτικά11) production and distribution. Case studies within the
two areas will allow for comparison of commonalities.

Secondary research was conducted through interpretation of primary government
documents and data, while the primary research was conducted through interviews
and study site observation12. Interviews with semi-structured questionnaires were
determined to be the most effective method to guarantee a response. They were
conducted with the owner/operators of fruit and vegetable wholesale companies,
farmers’ organizations (representatives of the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή
αγορά)13 management organization) and farmers themselves. The interviews were
supplemented with observations made from site visits.

This section provides an overview of each of the methods utilized in gathering data
and rationalization of why three different methods of information gathering were

Additionally, as a result of the researchers’ limited knowledge of the language, all
interviews were done with an interpreter present.

See Glossary of Foreign Terms for a definition of foreign terms used.
For the complete questionnaires asked of all interviewees, see Appendices A, B, C, D. The
survey and interview results are included in Appendices E, F.
See Glossary of Foreign Terms for a definition of foreign terms used.


3.1 Secondary Data: Farm Structure Survey and the National Statistics Service
of Greece
To determine demographics of vegetable (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) production on the
island and to provide baseline data to determine trends in production over time, data
was mined from the National Statistics Service of Greece and the Agricultural
Extension Service. When necessary data was not published either electronically or in
print, data was obtained through visits to the offices of both and information was
requested in person.

3.2 Interviews

3.2.1 Wholesaler Interviews
The sample of wholesale business owners was chosen by the snowball or networking
method; after initial introduction to the first interviewee, each subsequent interviewee
was referred from the first. The main purpose of these interviews was to gain a
general understanding of the movement of vegetables from farmer to retailer.
However, open ended questions were added in several instances to gain an
understanding of the wholesalers’ thoughts about the feasibility of a local food
system. All of the interviewees were business owners/operators located at the
wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά)14. It was determined that a
small sample of these businesses in each prefecture would be sufficient to diagram the
production-distribution-retail chain in each prefecture that would be representative of
the island in general.

3.2.2 Farmer Interviews
The sample of farmers interviewed were participants at the common market (laiki
agora/λαϊκή αγορά) and all interviews were conducted in-person, during the market
day. They were chosen by the snowball or networking method, where after the first

See Glossary of Foreign Terms for a definition of foreign terms used.

introduction, new interviewees were referred by the previous interviewee. The
questionnaires were semi-structured in nature and additional questions were added
according to the interviewee’s interest and willingness to share additional
information. Interviews were conducted with the farmers to determine their feelings
about their role as farmers in the current food system and what changes they have
experienced throughout their involvement in farming.

The interview results were supplemented with site observations conducted throughout
the interview process and the year of study. Farmers’ responses were compared
between market days in the same case study area and between the two case study

3.2.3 Market Organizers’ Interviews
Interviews were conducted with the president of the organization in charge of running
the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) in the major city of each prefecture.
The suggestion to speak with this individual was made by a farmer participating in the
interview process and it was determined the organization president could provide a
larger view on the difficulties and successes of direct marketing and how farmers are
perceived in the community. The interviews were conducted in person, on a market
day and contained semi-structured questions. However, additional questions were
added at the end of the interview and the president in Chania asked many questions
about market operations and difficulties from the researcher’s experience with similar
markets in New York City.

3.3 Site Observations
Results from this study are also derived from observations that were made at the sites
throughout the research period. Observations included the atmosphere and
demographics of the market communities, the types of available food outlets within
the communities, visits to these outlets and observations about the origin of products
sold through these food outlets, visits to farms and observations about farm size and

growing practices, in addition to informal conversations with farmers, consumers,
residents, and even other researchers within the communities. These findings
supported data gathered from interviews and data mining.

3.4 Analysis
An exploratory analysis allowed for a paradigmatic understanding of the relationships
within and to develop a mapped representation of the vegetable and melon
(kipeftika/κηπευτικά) distribution system in Crete. Similar questionnaires were
designed for all parties in order to allow for triangulation of the data gathered.
Additionally, at the conclusion of the data gathering process, results were compiled to
reveal salient points and structures to gain a general understanding of the ethos of
farming in Crete.


The case study areas chosen for this study are two of the four prefectures in the island
of Crete: Chania and Heraklio. They represent both a significant percentage of the
island’s population and agricultural production so in this way can be considered
representative of the general production and distribution trends on the island. The data
presented here is a combination of information gathered from
all resources.

The island of Crete is the largest and southernmost island in
Greece, with the Cretan Sea to the north and the Libyan Sea to
the south and an area of 8,336 km2 (3,219 square miles). It has
a typical Mediterranean climate, with changes in climate due
to altitude.
Figure 3. Map of Greece
detailing location of Crete

4.1 Chania Prefecture

4.1.1 General Statistical Indicators
The prefecture of Chania is the westernmost part of Crete with an area of
approximately 2,376 km2 (917 sq mi).
There is a population of 156,371 with
approximately 50,000 people living in its
capital city and main urban area, also
named Chania (NSSG, 2006). The main
economic activities of the prefecture are
agriculture and tourism. Within agriculture,
the main products cultivated in this
prefecture are olives and citrus, with a Figure 4. Map of Crete,
significant portion also in avocados, dairy detailing location of Chania Prefecture

and vegetables (kipeftika/κηπευτικά).


4.1.2 Farming Ethos/Philosophy
For this study, farmers were formally interviewed at one of the common markets
(laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά); however, throughout the year, the researcher spoke with
farmers at the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) and at any other occasion as
the opportunities were presented. The results presented here are mostly responses to
interviews, but some generalizations that were further supported by other
conversations and observations were included.

The typology of farms discussed in the interviews are illustrative of the general
statistical data available: they farmed an average of 30 stremmata (στρέμματα)15,
ranging from 6-50 stremmata (στρέμματα). All farmers interviewed produced
vegetables (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) on at least half of their land with the remaining land
in tree fruits and (mostly) olive production. The range in age of the farmers varied
widely, from late 30’s to early 70’s, with most people being on the older end of the
range. This sample seemed to be reflective of all the farmers selling at the common
market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά), where most of the farmers appear about 50 years
old. All of the farmers interviewed sold primarily, if not exclusively, at the common
market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά), often attending three to four per week.

When asked about their motivation for selling at the common market (laiki
agora/λαϊκή αγορά) rather than to a wholesaler or retailer, each of them said they
preferred to sell directly to the consumer because they could take a higher price and
not give this difference to a middle man16. One farmer expressed extreme
dissatisfaction with the wholesale arrangement stating that he stopped selling to the
wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) because he simply didn’t
“want to give money to the middle men who do nothing”.

One stremma (στρέμμα) equals 1/10 of a hectare (about 1/4 acres). See Glossary of Foreign
Terms for a definition of foreign terms used.
Only one farmer said she sold (her son’s) product to supermarkets, but this was only the
fruits that they produced (cherries, pears, oranges). Two other farmers said they have sold to
supermarkets or wholesalers before, but weren’t happy with the arrangement and so they
switched to keeping the common market (laiki agora, λαϊκή αγορά) as their sole market.

There was a general sense of dissatisfaction from farmers regarding the lack of state
support for the farmers and the position of farmers with regard to the rest of society.
They feel farming is not regarded as a good occupation, however, they also seem to
encourage a ‘better’ life for their children, pushing them to study and work in
occupations outside of farming. Additionally, farmers expressed concern for the
future, since especially this past year they have experienced greater costs of
production (specifically due to increased fertilizer and fuel costs) against relatively
static sales. Chania Common Market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά)
A discussion with the manager of the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά)
revealed an overview perspective of the difficulties farmers face while dealing with
societal changes. He expressed that the “cheap food” policy that is pushed by the
administration doesn’t take into consideration the needs of the farmers to earn a
living. He feels this is one of the reasons why he has seen a number of farmers go out
of business even in the short time he has been involved with the common market
(laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά); the pressure from policymakers to keep the price of food
low coupled with the increasing costs of production and uncertainty of sales leaves
the farmers vulnerable to financial failure.

The common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) in Chania operates most days of the
week, almost daily during the summer months, and provides a source of income for
over 100 farmers. The dollar amount or volume of sales for the Chania common
market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) could not be determined; however, the interviewee
stated that the price difference between products in the common market (laiki
agora/λαϊκή αγορά) in the summer versus winter seasons is large. He also mentioned
that in previous times, a farmer selling through this method could make “a lot of
money”, but this fact is no longer certain. These discussions also revealed it as
something that is of great social importance in the lives of both farmers and

Some of the difficulties the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) management
has faced in the past few years is a result of the fact that the decisions for the common
market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) are made by a committee of individuals that
includes people with differing and even conflicting interests from those of the
farmers17. For example, the committee changes the market locations almost every
year, making the market difficult for consumers to find; these new locations have
been in less and less desirable areas for the farmers: usually out of the way of foot
traffic and hidden from main roads. He mentioned that each time the market location
is changed the residents of the new location complain, citing the noise, dirtiness, and
inconvenience for parking and driving as greater nuisances than the benefits received
as a result of locating the market in their area.

He also discussed the great social role the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά)
plays in the community. He referred to our current world-wide “crisis of human
relations” and mentioned that the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) provides
a solution to the erosion of communities that is happening. He dicussed how the
common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) really brings people together around food;
it is a chance for the farmers to interact with each other and for consumers to connect
with the food they are eating and their neighbors, as it acts as a central meeting point.
This sentiment was reinforced with the researcher’s observations at how the farmers
really share responsibilities at the market, often handling sales for a neighboring stand
if the farmer is away for a moment – even if he is selling the same product at his own
stand. The market is a very lively place, where you can always hear laughter and
friendly conversation taking place at any point and time. The common market (laiki
agora/λαϊκή αγορά) president was concerned by the fact that the mayor and others
involved in the management committee don’t see the value of the market beyond the
sale of food. However, he also stated this isn’t strictly a result of the committee’s
short-sightedness; he feels the farmers need to get more involved in their own welfare

He gave the example of the current committee members: the town mayor, a building
inspector, traffic police, an archeologist and himself. There is space for five farmers to serve
on the committee but presently, with himself excepted, they are empty.

and has been trying to encourage farmers to fill those five reserved seats on the

4.1.3 Production/Land Use Data Vegetable Production
The main vegetable (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) products, including the area and volume of
production, are presented in the table below. The trend shows an increase in
production from 1971-2001, however the land area in production remained the same
or decreased slightly18.

The increase in production could be attributed to a great increase in irrigated farmland that
was experienced throughout Greece during this time period (Mediterra, 2007)

Table 1. Chania Major Vegetable Crops (by production)
1971 1981 1991 2001
Crop 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2
Artichoke 2656 903 2280 1095 1993 1261 1632 1178
Beans, Green 2016 748 1829 960 1478 779 1315 749
Cabbages 1662 999 1135 885 1002 643 820 663
Cucumbers 913 832 434 1089 * * * *
Cucumbers (field) * * * * 619 471 594 528
Cucumbers (greenhouse) * * * * 151 1639 145 847
Eggplant 435 240 418 396 * * * *
Eggplant (field) * * * * 421 314 423 401
Eggplant (greenhouse) * * * * 19 48 10 35
Lettuce * * * * 527 341 575 383
Melons 1044 974 826 781 1375 1645 1651 2698
Okra (irrigated) 502 132 436 232 442 204 417 241
Okra (non-irrigated) 260 97 95 33 79 18 124 77
Onions 2260 1906 1629 1570 1573 1447 1552 1509
Potatoes 12560 6219 10164 9359 9033 8463 8184 7672
Spinach 559 240 513 379 508 315 500 323
Squash 1339 914 1349 1093 1471 1264 1464 1302
Tomatoes (field) * * * * 3721 4579 3699 4977
Tomatoes (greenhouse) * * * * 1875 17390 2406 27694
Tomatoes (irrigated) 4715 4394 5018 17948 * * * *
Tomatoes (non-irrigated) 562 230 334 183 * * * *
Watermelons 2919 2768 3567 6677 4186 8852 3672 7121

Total (listed here) 34402 21596 30027 42680 30473 49673 29183 58398
(Vegetable Area from Census) 22708 * 19705 * 19410 * 19298 *
(Melons, Potatoes from Census) 16523 * 14557 * 14594 * 13507 *
(Vegetable, Melons, Potatoes) 39231 34262 34004 32805
1=Area in Stremmata
2=Production in Tonnes
* = No data available

The “Total (listed here)” is an aggregate of only what was determined to be the most
significant crops for the area in terms of production. However, the table also shows
the total area of production for all vegetable (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) crops according to
the Census data [Total (Vegetable area from Census)], which is likely a more accurate
depiction of the area utilized in production.
28 Land Use
As an illustration of land use in the prefecture, the data below presents the change in
total areas in agriculture19, as compared to areas in artificial surfaces20, from 1981-

Table 2. Land Use in Chania, by Category
1981 1991 1999/2000
All Areas 2275.8 2375.8 2349.5
All Areas under Cultivation/Fallow 610.2 625.2
All Areas in Agriculture (excluding pastures) 765.6
Area in Arable Land 13.7
Area in Permanent Crops 425.5
Area in Heterogenous Agricultural Areas 326.4
Areas Occupied by Localities (buildings, roads, etc) 72.3 82.3
All Areas in Artificial Surfaces 35.9
Urban Fabric 26
Industrial/commercial Units 1.3
Transport Units 6.6
Mine, dump, construction sites 1.9
Parks, Recreational Use, etc 0.1
Area in 1000 stremmata
* Data for 1999/2000 Areas in Artificial Services may not be comparable to previous years. See below.

The data presented in Table 2 illustrates the change in land use over almost 20 years.
However, while the area in agriculture increased over this time period, the total of All
Areas in Artificial Surfaces was increasing from 1981-1991, but shows a decrease in
the data from 1999/2000. This could be due to a change in the definition of Artificial
Surfaces, since it is unlikely that developed land was reverted back to agriculture or

As defined by the National Statistics Service of Greece, areas in agriculture is the sum of
(arable land) cultivated areas regularly ploughed and generally under a rotation system,
including fallow land; (permanently crops) crops not under a rotation system, providing
repeated harvest, which occupy the land for a long period before it is ploughed and replanted,
and heterogeneous agricultural areas (NSSG 2006).
As defined by the National Statistics Service of Greece, areas in artificial surfaces is areas
where most of the land is covered by structures, buildings roads and artificially surfaced areas
either cover all the ground or are associated with vegetated areas and bare soil, which occupy
discontinuous surfaces (NSSG 2006).

forest. These two tables show that more than 4% of all land in production in 2001 was
dedicated to vegetables (including watermelon and potatoes).

4.1.4 Distribution Data
The general distribution chain (see Figure 6, Section 4.3) reveals three main
mechanisms for the movement of food throughout the island: direct sales (farm to
consumer or farm to retailer), wholesales (mostly through companies
(emboros/έμπορος) at the wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά)),
or sales to auction or pack houses (for export)22. The wholesale vegetable market
(lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) supplies the majority of the retail outlets and in order to
gain an understanding of the percentage of Cretan-produced vegetables appearing in
the retail outlets, interviews were conducted with business owners at the wholesale
vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά). Chania Wholesale Vegetable Market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά)
The wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) in Chania is a building
housing about 20 different wholesalers each located in their own ‘stand’ with access
to a loading dock and a central indoor corridor. It was observed that the majority of
the companies (emboros/έμπορος) at the wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/
λαχαναγορά) did not have any form of cooling system for storing the produce.

The size of businesses was estimated by the number of employees at each business
and the number of farmers and wholesalers from which the business purchases
product. The number of staff ranged from 1-6 full time staff (with an average of 4 full
time staff). Only two businesses reported hiring any part-time or seasonal labor. The

Emboros (έμπορος) refers to any wholesale or trader, in any product. See Glossary of
Foreign Terms for a definition of foreign terms used.
Supermarkets owned by foreign (non-Greek) companies are also present on the island.
These supermarkets operate their own distribution system and rarely use product produced in
Crete. This distribution chain was not considered in this study due to both the difficulty of
penetrating the administration and the consideration that it is not a significant purchaser of
Cretan products or overall fruit and vegetables purchases.

range in number of farmers and (other) wholesalers each wholesaler purchases per
week ranged from 10-80 farmers and 0-20 wholesalers, with an average of 36 farmers
and 10 wholesalers. In order to confirm that each wholesaler was indeed involved in
the area of product we were interested in (see Table 1) they were first questioned
about the type of product bought and sold (see Appendix A for the complete
questionnaire). Wholesale Vegetable Market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) Purchases
Table 3 details the geographic origin of product purchased by wholesalers at the
wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά).

Table 3. Origin of Product – Chania wholesale vegetable market
% of Purchases
From within within From
From within Crete, outside Greece, outside
Business Location Chania Chania outside of
within Market Origin of Purchases Prefecture Prefecture Crete Greece
4 Farmers 90 10 0 0
a b
9 Farmers & Wholesalers 80 20 0 0
c d
15 Farmers & Wholesalers 70 0 20 10d
16 Farmers 100e 0 0 0
19 Farmers & Wholesalers 80 20 0 0
a) Purchases from wholesalers are negligible.
b) Occasionally purchases product from outside Crete, but only because of limited supply of something due to bad weather/crop
c) Purchases are exclusively from farmers.
d) Purchases are exclusively from wholesalers.
e) Purchases in the winter occasionally include locations outside of Chania, within Crete (up to 60%). He also occasionally purchases
potatoes and onions from wholesalers in Macedonia, but this occurs only in exceptional years.

Of the total product sold through the wholesale vegetable market
(lachanagora/λαχαναγορά), in all cases it was shown that at least 70% of this product
is purchased from farmers within the Chania prefecture. While some of these
purchases do include those from wholesalers located within the Chania prefecture,
which could mean that the product has come from outside of Chania, outside of Crete
or even outside of Greece, in each instance these purchases were not a great
percentage of the overall purchases and would likely be a negligible contribution to
the total amount.23 Wholesale Vegetable Market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) Sales
The type of retail outlet and geographical location of total sales was also studied.
Table 4 details where the product sold through the wholesale vegetable market

For further explanation of the origin of purchases from wholesalers, see the discussion in
Section 4.3.

(lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) terminates (before the consumer) geographically, while
Table 5 shows the distribution of product by the type of the retail operation.

Table 4. Geographic Distribution of Product
% of Sales
Crete, Within
Business Within outside Greece, Outside
Location within Chania Chania outside of
Market Prefecture Prefecture Crete Greece
4 80 20 0
9 80 20 0 0
15 ~100 negligible 0 0
16 80 20 0 0
19 80 20 0 0

Each business interviewed reported at least 80% of their product was sold to retailers
within the Chania prefecture and only one reported selling any product outside of
Crete. This wholesaler stated he occasionally would sell product to a wholesaler in
Athens if a particular farmer had a great surplus, but was not a regular occurrence or a
significant portion of his sales. The majority of the 20% of his sales outside of Chania
prefecture were to other areas in Crete, not outside of Crete, but he could not state a
specific percentage at the time of interview.

Table 5. Distribution of Product by Type of Retail Operation

Business % of Sales
Location Greengrocers/
within MiniMarkets/ Laiki Mobile
Market Supermarketsa Hospitals Hotels Agorab Markets Restaurants Universities Otherc
4 70 ~4 ~4 ~4 0 ~4 ~4 10
9 60 0 40 0 0 0 0 0
15 90 0 neg. neg. 0 10 0 0
16d 5 0 30 5 0 50 10 0
19 6 1 4 2 2 5 none 3
a) These were grouped together because of similarity of retail operation and inability of the wholesalers to distinguish between them. See
Section 4.3 for further definition of retail operations.
b) The laiki allows a certain percentage of wholesalers to have stands at the market. See Laiki Agora in Section 4.3 below for a more detailed
c) "Other" retail operations includes: ferries, naval base, nursing homes, catering, other wholesalers and product that is thrown away.
d) Distribution of sales was significantly different throughout the year. See Section for details.
e) Wholesaler could not provide percentage, so retailers were listed in order of importance from 1 (greatest % of sales) to 6 (least %).

The majority of sales for most wholesalers were to greengrocers/mini-
markets/supermarkets, restaurants and hotels. However, since the interviews were
conducted in the summer season, these numbers represent the situation during the
tourist (summer) season. In the winter, the wholesalers reported a change in the
distribution, where a greater percentage of sales went to greengrocers/mini-
markets/supermarkets and less to hotels and restaurants. This is due to the fact that
many restaurants and most hotels close for the non-tourist, winter season. Many
wholesalers also mentioned that the volume of food that moves through their business
is significantly less in the winter months, which could also be attributed to the non-
tourist season and a subsequent decrease in the island's population (and therefore
demand for food) and a general decrease in production for the winter months.

4.2 Heraklio Prefecture

4.2.1 General Statistical Indicators
The prefecture of Heraklio is the eastern part of Crete with an area of approximately
2,641 km2 (1,120 sq mi) and is situated between the Rethymno and Lasithi
Prefectures. There is a total population of 302,846 and its capital, also named
Heraklio, is the fourth largest city in
Greece and home to approximately
137,700 people (NSSG, 2006). There
is a valley of farmlands in the central
and the northern parts of the
prefecture. Mountains dominate the
rest of the prefecture to the south. Figure 5. Map of Crete,
detailing location of Heraklio Prefecture

4.2.2 Farming Ethos/Philosophy
The researcher was not based in Heraklio, so the occasion to speak with farmers was
more limited than in Chania. The majority of the philosophy of farmers from this
prefecture was taken from the interviews conducted during a two day period at two
separate common markets (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά). There seemed to be a more
positive outlook on the nature of their business from farmers in this area as compared
to that of Chania’s farmers.

Because of the nature of agriculture in this prefecture, all of the farmers interviewed
had at least some area dedicated in greenhouse production of vegetables. The size of
farms ranged from 20-30 stremmata (στρέμματα), each with about 10 stremmata
(στρέμματα) in vegetable production. Each farmer had dedicated the remaining area
to olive production (10-20 stremmata, στρέμματα). Of the 10 stremmata (στρέμματα)
in vegetables about half of this area was in greenhouses. These farmers were a bit
younger than those interviewed in Chania, between 33-45 years in age. Two of the

three farmers interviewed sold their product to a pack house or auction house24 and in
one case to a wholesaler at the wholesale vegetable market
(lachanagora/λαχαναγορά), in addition to selling at the common market (laiki
agora/λαϊκή αγορά) three to five times per week.

The two farmers who sell their product to both the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή
αγορά) and pack houses expressed that the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά)
was less profitable than the other markets. When asked why they then continued
selling at the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά), they expressed that because
the sales are all cash based, it is a regular, guaranteed source of liquidity, since they
otherwise had to wait 30 days to be paid by the pack houses. However, each of them
also felt it was important to maintain a face-to-face connection with their consumers
and they all expressed that they liked the atmosphere at the common market (laiki
agora/λαϊκή αγορά).

In all cases, the farmers felt a lack of support from the state. They each sited different
reasons: one mentioned the need for increased marketing efforts on behalf of farmers
in general; two other farmers stated that the general nature of policies don’t help
farmers at all. One said this was “a global problem, not specific to Crete” and another
called the misdirection of policies “the great social conversation”. All of the farmers
also expressed the same concern as individuals in Chania: that farming is very local
on the social scale of success and one farmer specifically said the government could
help by “putting farmers at the center [of life] to give them validity”.

4.2.3 Production Data Vegetable Production
The main vegetable (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) products, including the area and volume of
production, are presented in Table 6. The trend shows a significant increase in

A more detailed description of pack houses and auction houses is discussed in Section 4.3.

production volume from 1971-2001, however the land area in production remained
the same or decreased slightly25.

This same trend of increased production was also noticed in the data from Chania. In
addition to increased fertilizer use, the trend could also be explained by the increased use of
greenhouses in production, which extend the production season greatly; the widespread
mechanization of cultivation (i.e. increased tractor use); and an increase in demand due to the
development of the tourist industry and subsequent increase in population during the tourist
season. It should also be noted that in the late 1960’s production on the island was mostly in
the form of subsistence farming, while currently professional farmers are common.

Table 6. Heraklio Major Vegetable Crops (by production)
1971 1981 1991 2001
Crop 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2
Artichoke 6338 3455 4283 3037 3683 3340 3607 3746
Beans, Green 2626 1147 1972 1060 1691 1347 1492 1267
Cabbages 3268 3025 3156 3232 3485 6774 2927 5487
Cucumbers 2933 9219 3412 16751 * * * *
Cucumbers (field) * * * * 1198 2180 1217 4353
Cucumbers (greenhouse) * * * * 3715 29439 2616 22456
Eggplant 722 499 684 669 * * * *
Eggplant (field) * * * * 620 888 825 1086
Eggplant (greenhouse) * * * * 105 293 148 461
Lettuce * * * * 984 1023 986 1279
Melons 2619 2352 2743 3547 4107 8283 4888 9160
Okra (irrigated) 895 349 690 428 700 525 701 498
Okra (non-irrigated) 478 98 239 75 102 61 118 51
Onions 2977 2386 2801 2636 2507 3561 2269 3518
Potatoes 20735 16514 28133 31563 28439 35979 27553 36263
Spinach 109 50 157 142 246 226 278 292
Squashes 2230 2075 2378 2417 2027 3529 2191 3763
Tomatoes (field) * * * * 8122 27476 7818 23522
Tomatoes (greenhouse) * * * * 3544 24731 4064 31301
Tomatoes (irrigated) 12092 24948 11606 43346 * * * *
Tomatoes (non-irrigated) 2522 2157 2636 1860 * * * *
Watermelons 5931 9092 9495 25643 6831 21211 8133 21374

Total (listed here) 66475 77366 74385 136406 72106 170866 71831 169877
(Vegetable Area from
Census) 46324 42486 39216 37529
(Melons, Potatoes from
Census) 29285 40371 39377 40574
(Vegetable, Melons,
Potatoes) 75609 82857 78593 78103
1=Area in Stremmata
2=Production in Tonnes
* = No data available Land Use
To illustrate the changing nature of land use in the prefecture, the data below presents
the change in total utilized agricultural area, as compared to areas in artificial
surfaces, from 1981-2000.

Table 7. Land Use in Heraklio, by Category
1981 1991 1999/2000
All Areas 2641.2 2641.2 2640.6
All Areas under Cultivation/Fallow 1429.1 1453.2
All Areas in Agriculture (excluding pastures) 1533.4
Area in Arable Land 31.6
Area in Permanent Crops 960.8
Area in Heterogeneous Agricultural Areas 541
Areas Occupied by Localities (buildings, roads, etc) 133 146.6
All Areas in Artificial Surfaces 48.6
Urban Fabric 38.4
Industrial/commercial Units 3
Transport Units 5.2
Mine, dump, construction sites 1.6
Parks, Recreational Use, etc 0.4
Area in 1000 stremmata
* Data for 1999/2000 Areas in Artificial Services may not be comparable to previous years. See Section 4.1 for explaination.

The data above shows both an increase in land in artificial surfaces and approximately
the same amount of land in agriculture from 1981-1991. However, the data also
shows a significant decrease in the area in artificial surfaces between 1991-
1999/2000, most likely due to a change in Census definition. It is very unlikely that
land in artificial surfaces was reverted to farmland or fallow land during this (1991-
2000) period. Tables 6 and 7 show that approximately 5% of the land in Heraklio in
agricultural production is dedicated to vegetable production.

4.2.4 Distribution Data
This section details the movement of fresh produce through the city of Heraklio.
Interviews were conducted with businesses at the wholesale vegetable market
(lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) on two separate occasions and were identical to those
conducted in Chania, but were able to extract more details from these participants (in
exchange for interviewing fewer individuals.) Additionally, an extensive interview
with administration at the wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά)
revealed some details about the interactions between wholesalers at the market and
provided an overview of purchasing and sales conducted at the wholesale vegetable
market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά).
39 Heraklio Wholesale Vegetable Market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά)
The wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) in Heraklio was quite a
large market, in what appeared to be a relatively modern building. The building
housed approximately 40 companies with about 100 total employees (both full- and
part-time.) The researcher noticed that the companies all had some form of cold
storage and it seems most of the product was kept in the storage areas. Additionally, it
seemed to be quite a busy market; each of the interviews were interrupted to allow a
sale to occur on several occasions, even though they were conducted at the time of
day and week that is considered slow, business-wise.

The businesses interviewed seemed to be about the same size as those in Chania; they
had between one and six full-time staff, with one business hiring four part-time
seasonal laborers. Each business reported purchasing from approximately the same
number of farmers per week (35-40) and (of those who purchase from other
wholesalers) approximately ten wholesalers per week. In order to confirm that each
wholesaler was indeed involved in the area of product we were interested in (see
Table 4.2.3a) they were first questioned about the type of product bought and sold
(see Appendix A for the complete questionnaire). Wholesale Vegetable Market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) Purchases
The table below details the geographic origin of product purchased by wholesalers at
the wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά).

Table 8. Origin of Product – Heraklio Wholesale vegetable market

% of Total Purchases
within From
From Crete, within From Total Total Total
within outside Greece, outside Purchases Purchases Purchases
Origin of Heraklio Heraklio outside of from from from
Business Purchases Prefecture Prefecture Crete Greece Crete Farmers Wholesalers
Farmers 50 50 0 0 100
Wholesalers 0 0 0 0 0
1 Total 50 50 0 0 100
Farmers 68 10 0 0 78
Wholesalers 0 7 15 0 22
2 Total 68 17 15 0 85
Farmers 58.5 34.5 0 0 93
Wholesalers 6.5 0.5 0 0 7
3 Total 65 35 0 0 100
a) Wholesaler data includes cooperatives for this business.
b) Mentioned that all his purchases are from Crete, but since he purchases from other wholesalers, some product may come from other areas
in Greece or even abroad. See Section for details.

The total purchases from Crete were at least 85% of the total purchases; however this
included up to 22% of purchases from other wholesalers, which could include product
from areas other than Crete, or even outside of Greece26. The purchases directly from
farmers within the Heraklio Prefecture ranged from 50-68% of total purchases;
however, purchases from farmers from all of Crete constituted the vast majority of
total purchases (78-100%).

The discussion with the administration at the wholesale vegetable market
(lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) revealed some generalizations that are worth mentioning.
He figured about 90% of (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) purchases made within the wholesale
vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) are product grown in Crete, with
approximately 70% of all purchases from the Heraklio Prefecture. These averages

For further explanation of the origin of purchases from wholesalers, see the discussion in
Section 4.3.

were consistent with what was reported from the individual businesses (see Table 8).
He also noted that there is a significant increase in purchases from outside of Heralkio
during the winter months, but this doesn’t change the overall percentage of purchase
from Crete generally at any time of year. Wholesale Vegetable Market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) Sales
Tables 9-10 detail the termination of sales, both geographically (Table 9) and by type
of retailer (Table 10).

Table 9. Geographic Distribution of Product
% of Salesa

Crete, Within
Within outside Greece, Outside
Heraklio Heraklio outside of
Business Prefecture Prefecture Creteb Greece
1 90 0 10 0
2 55 35 10 0
3 70 20 10 0
a) See below for discussion of changes due to seasonality.
b) Aegean Islands only

The majority of sales remained within the prefecture, but ranged from 55-90% of total
sales, with an average of 72%. However the great majority of sales remained on the
island of Crete, with a total of 90% reported from each business. The numbers quoted
represented the distribution of sales during the summer season. Since off-Crete sales
were only to the Aegean Islands, this number greatly decreased during the winter
season, mostly due to the decrease in the islands’ populations during the non-tourist
season. In the winter months, the percentage of sales outside of Crete was much less,
from 1-2% of total sales.

The discussion with the wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά)
administration revealed similar conclusions. He estimated approximately 80% of sales
terminated within Crete, with approximately 20% to Athens and the islands, noting a
significant decrease in product sold off Crete in the winter months. He also mentioned

that while there are a lot of farmers in the more touristy areas of the island, because
purchasers like to gather everything they can in one place, the majority of the food is
still sold to these areas through the wholesale vegetable market

Table 10. Distribution of Product by Type of Retail Operation

% of Sales

Business Supermarketsa Hospitals Hotels Restaurants Universities Otherb
1 100 0 0 0 0 0
2 main some main some some some
3 75 0 15 5 0 5
a) These were grouped together because of similarity of retail operation and inability of the wholesalers to distinguish between
them. See Section 4.3 for further definition of retail operations.
b) "Other" retail operations includes: ferries, naval base, nursing homes, catering, mobile markets, Laiki Agora, other wholesalers
and product that is thrown away.
c) Wholesaler was not able to provide percentage of sales. Mentioned great differences in seasonality of sales. See Section
for details.

The great majority of sales shown here from the Heraklio wholesale vegetable market
(lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) were to greengrocers/minimarkets/supermarkets and
hotels. However, because of population difference between the tourist and non-tourist
season (and the subsequent closure of hotels), in the winter the percentages are
different, with less product being sold to hotels and therefore a greater percentage
going to the grocers. Two business (#2 and #3) reported severe differences between
the summer and winter seasons. The first (#2) noted that 70% of the business’s yearly
income is earned during the summer months, with hotels being a significant buyer.
The other (#3) noted that during the winter, he doesn’t sell to hotels at all and the
sales are then reverted to the grocers, making up 90% of the sales.

An interesting revelation that came out of the discussion with the wholesale vegetable
market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) secretary was with regard to the cooperation
between businesses. As noted above, the “other” category includes other wholesales
and it was discovered that it is not uncommon when one wholesaler is short or does

not carry a certain product, he will purchase product from another to satisfy the needs
of his sale. He stated this is due to the fact that wholesalers will often specialize
slightly in product areas and therefore often don’t have enough volume or variety to
satisfy a sale and in that case will look to his "neighboring" businesses to fill the gap.

4.3 Island of Crete

4.3.1 General Statistical Indicators
The island of Crete contains four prefectures (Chaina, Rethymno, Heraklio, and
Lasithi) and maintains a population of approximately 623,666 people. The island’s
climate is primarily Mediterranean, with a major mountain range through the middle
of the island. These mountains feature several areas of fertile plateaus and the island
contains several other plains areas, especially near the south coast (Greek Ministry of
the Interior, 2008).

4.3.2 Farming Ethos/Philosophy
The farms in Crete are dominated by relatively small average farm size of about 42.2
stremmata (στρέμματα, 4.2 hectares) and the vast majority of farmers are over the age
of 40, with approximately 35% of all farmers older than 65 years. The type of
vegetable farming on the island can be typified as being diversified in production,
with many different crops, including permanent crops such as olive trees, as a part of
one holding. Additionally, over 29% of farming households reported income from
sources other than farming (NSSG, 2004).

As was illustrated in the previous sections (Sections 4.1, 4.2), the farmers range
widely in their feelings about their role in society. However, most farmers have
expressed a lack of support from the government and feel farming is not seen as a
desired occupation by youth. This is especially illustrated by the high percentage of

farmers that are over 40 years old and the seemingly small number of individuals that
enter farming as a new occupation27.

4.3.3 Production Data Vegetable Production
Table 11 illustrates the land in production and yields of the products of interest for
this study. There is a general trend of increased yields, with a slight decline in the
total land area dedicated to such products.

The number of new farmers was only obtained in the prefecture of Chania, but showed very
small numbers, an average of 93 new farmers per year, from 2000-2006 (Agricultural
Extension Office of Greece, 2008).

Table 11. Crete Major Vegetable Crops (by production)
1971 1981 1991 2001
Crop 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2
Artichoke 13053 7469 10825 7532 10266 7750 9493 7999
Beans, Green 7690 3456 7189 3968 6072 4104 5252 3780
Cabbages 8303 7515 7932 8258 7308 11100 6364 9218
Cucumbers 5817 21767 8866 58517 * * * *
Cucumbers (field) * * * * 2559 3501 2503 5614
Cucumbers (greenhouse) * * * * 9277 74431 6706 62760
Eggplant 1580 1167 2047 5656 * * * *
Eggplant (field) * * * * 1375 1435 1619 1798
Eggplant (greenhouse) * * * * 1110 8462 1379 10415
Lettuce * * * * 2071 1977 2292 2581
Melons 4125 3784 4754 5975 7620 13832 8641 15721
Okra (irrigated) 2086 825 1887 1228 1843 1238 1948 1319
Okra (non-irrigated) 1017 306 590 252 358 200 424 244
Onions 15443 6676 6757 6490 6087 6718 5502 6453
Potatoes 60769 54988 70563 86809 66914 91817 64203 90015
Spinach 929 434 953 718 1285 1030 1565 926
Squashes 5080 4807 4939 5024 4864 6751 5341 7638
Tomatoes (field) * * * * 15370 37312 15143 35254
Tomatoes (greenhouse) * * * * 8140 64949 12509 111882
Tomatoes (irrigated) 27742 46371 22615 86235 * * * *
Tomatoes (non-irrigated) 3717 2850 3542 2490 * * * *
Watermelons 10808 14785 15754 37417 13393 34355 14315 35724

Total (listed here) 168160 177202 169214 316571 165913 370964 165200 409343
(Vegetable Area from
Census) 118430 * 96151 * 92637 * 95068 *
(Melons, Potatoes from
Census) 75718 * 91075 * 87929 * 87162 *
(Vegetable, Melons,
Potatoes) 194148 * 187226 * 180566 * 182230 *
1=Area in Stremmata
2=Production in Tonnes

Additionally, a significant increase in tractor use was noted (see Table 12) which
suggests an increase in mechanization of labor.

Table 12. Total Tractor Use in Crete
1981 1991 1999/2000
Number of
Tractors 6668 28453 35482 Land Use
As an illustration of land use in the prefecture, the data below presents the change in
total utilized agricultural area, as compared to areas in artificial surfaces, from 1981-

Table 13. Land Use in Crete, by Category
1981 1991 1999/2000
All Areas 8335.9 8335.9 8312.9
All Areas under Cultivation/Fallow 3090.2 3142.4
All Areas in Agriculture (excluding pastures) 3586.8
Area in Arable Land 90.6
Area in Permanent Crops 1946.5
Area in Heterogeneous Agricultural Areas 1549.7
Areas Occupied by Localities (buildings, roads, etc) 296.2 327.1
All Areas in Artificial Surfaces 112
Urban Fabric 86.5
Industrial/commercial Units 6.4
Transport Units 12.7
Mine, dump, construction sites 5.7
Parks, Recreational Use, etc 0.7
Area in 1000 Stremmata

The data presented here illustrates the change in land use over almost 20 years.
However, while the area in agriculture increased over this time period, the Areas in
Artificial Surfaces was increasing from 1981-1991, but shows a significant decrease
in Area in Artificial Surfaces from 1991-1999/2000. This decrease is likely due to a
change in the definition of Artificial Surfaces, since it is unlikely that developed land

was reverted back to agriculture or forest (the only other broad categories of land
use). Tables 11 and 13 show that approximately 5% of all land in agricultural
production in 2001 was dedicated to vegetables (including watermelon and potatoes).

4.3.4 Distribution Data
As a result of discussions with the companies at the different wholesale vegetable
market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) and with farmers and other individuals involved in
the many common markets (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά), several assumptions have come
to light about the general nature of the supply chain for vegetable and melon
(kipeftika/κηπευτικά) production on the island of Crete. Figure 6 is a general map of
the distribution chain (from farmer to consumer) of vegetable and melon
(kipeftika/κηπευτικά) produced on Crete.

Figure 6. Distribution of Cretan Production Through Wholesale Vegetable Market

Figure 6 details the main outputs for vegetables (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) produced on the
island, which includes the wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά),
direct sales from the farmer to retail outlets, institutions, or consumers, and
wholesalers/exporters. After discussion with the businesses at the wholesale vegetable
market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά), it was determined that all food produced in Crete
moves through one of these three chains, in approximately equal parts. Figure 6
details that retailers on Crete receive product through either the wholesale vegetable

market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) or through direct sales from the farmer28. However,
a significant amount (approximately 1/3) of vegetables produced on Crete is sold to
wholesalers/exporters. This section details the different supply chains according to
research conducted in this study. Definition of Retailers
As stated previously, the greengrocers, supermarkets, and mini-markets were lumped
together because the wholesale businesses were not able to make a distinction
between these markets. It is pertinent at this time to discuss the definitions of these
markets, as they are an interesting feature of the food retail landscape in Crete29.
There are two types of retail operations termed “supermarkets” in Crete. The first is
characterized by international ownership or an international/domestic partnership.
Supermarkets of this type in Crete are the German-owned Lidl and Metro Cash &
Carry and an example of a supermarket owned by an international/domestic
partnership is Marinopolous/Champion. In each of these cases, the companies are
relatively large corporations with a centralized buying and distribution system and
they rarely carry vegetables produced on Crete. A supermarket is also a term given to
franchises or cooperatively owned markets that do at least on occasion purchase
locally produced product. Veropoulos Companies (which operates Chalkiadakis and
Spar in Greece) is a part of a European-wide franchise, while Elliniki Diatrofi/COOP
is a Greek franchise (which is partially owned by the Farmers Cooperative Union),
meaning each store is locally owned and operated, but bears the name of the
franchise. INKA markets is a Cretan-owned consumer cooperative. Ariadne, Festos,
and Creta Elit are retailer-owned cooperatives. Both types of companies (franchise
and cooperative) have the purchasing freedom to acquire locally-produced product

The research conducted did not evaluate a portion of the retail trade, the internationally
owned supermarkets, which carry product mostly from outside of Crete and often outside of
Greece because of their own centralized distribution systems. See Section for a
detailed description of supermarkets.
These definitions were a result of initial conversations with the wholesale businesses at the
wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά), which were further supported by
research conducted into the companies themselves.

and INKA in particular prides itself on the fact that it carries product (not only
vegetables) from Crete. Mini-markets refer to smaller versions of these (Veropoulos,
INKA, COOP, Ariadne, Festos, and Creta Elit) supermarkets. Green grocers are
independent shops that may sell dried products in addition to fruits and vegetables,
but the vast majority of the product is locally produced. In Chania, it is the INKA
markets and in Heraklio, the franchise or cooperative (Veropoulos, COOP, Ariadne,
Festos, and Creta Elit) markets to which wholesalers most often refer when discussing
supermarkets. Wholesale Vegetable Market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά)
The main retailer receiving product from the wholesale vegetable market
(lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) was greengrocers, supermarkets, and mini-markets, which
made up over half of the total sales from the wholesale vegetable market
(lachanagora/λαχαναγορά). Hotels and restaurants followed as the second most
significant market (during the tourist season) while the other operations made up only
a small percentage of total sales from the wholesale vegetable market
(lachanagora/λαχαναγορά). The wholesale vegetable market
(lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) seems to supply product to all retail operations and
institutions on the island, as detailed in Figure 6 (with the exception of some
supermarkets, see discussion above). While this data was not correlated through
research conducted from the purchasing side, meaning surveys were not conducted at
the major retail operations to determine where the vegetables (kipeftika/κηπευτικά)
they carried were produced, general observations at each of these retail operations
(greengrocers, supermarkets, and mini-markets) seemed to show that the majority of
vegetables (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) they carried corresponded with the wholesalers’
assumptions about purchasing methods according to the type of business
(greengrocers, supermarkets, and mini-markets). Figure 7 presents an overview of the
origin of product available to retailers at the wholesale vegetable market

Figure 7. Scale Representation of Origin of Product

Figure 7 shows that the vast majority of vegetables (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) available to
retailers at the wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) is purchased
directly from farmers from Crete (70-100%) and a majority of product is from farmers
within the same prefecture (50-100%). While Figure 7 shows there is product
purchased from other wholesalers in the same prefecture (0-20%) or other areas in
Crete (0-20%) and this product could include vegetables (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) with
an origin outside the prefecture, outside of Crete, or even outside of Greece, it is a
relatively small percentage of the total. Additionally, it is likely that these wholesalers
carry products of a similar origin to the ones studied at the wholesale vegetable
market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά), which would mean a great majority (70-100%) of
product purchased from other wholesalers is produced within the island of Crete. A
small percentage of the total product was purchased from areas outside of Crete (0-
15%) and no products were purchased from outside of the country. It can therefore

generally be stated that most of the vegetables (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) sold through the
wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) are produced on Crete. Direct Sales
Another feature of the supply chain for vegetables (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) on Crete is
the direct sales. As noted above it is not uncommon for farmers to make direct sales to
restaurants and greengrocers, supermarkets, and mini-markets. This practice was
referred to as “illegal” by the administration at the wholesale vegetable market
(lachanagora/λαχαναγορά), who mentioned that it is Greek law that all product sold
locally (with the exception of farmers who sell product directly to consumers at the
common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά)) must pass through the wholesale
vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά). The reasoning for this law was one of
traceability for food safety and tax reasons. However, a few business owners noted
this practice, with an increase in this practice over previous years, apparently partly
due to the fact that farmers now have access to their own form of transporting the
product. The researcher also noticed several times while visiting the common market
(laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) that taverna30 owners would purchase product to prepare
that day from particular farmers throughout the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή

Another main avenue of direct sales for farmers is the common market (laiki
agora/λαϊκή αγορά). This form of market was started in 1922 as an effort to provide a
source of income for farmers where they could get 100% of the retail profit. Initially,
it was organized to ensure that 90% of the stalls were occupied by farmers, selling
food. Unfortunately, that ratio has now changed and there is often an equal number of
non-food and food resellers (emboros/έμπορος) as farmers, which creates tension
among the sellers at the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά), since space is
always an issue. These markets are still a main feature of community life in the towns
and cities in Crete.

A taverna is a common term used to describe a family-style, usually family-run restaurant.
See glossary for a greater definition.
52 Wholesalers/Exporters
The third avenue through which vegetables are sold is through wholesaler/exporters.
These individuals are not usually located at the wholesale vegetable market
(lachanagora/ λαχαναγορά), although each wholesale vegetable market
(lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) has one or two businesses that are both wholesalers and
importers/exporters. In Heraklio, the farmers that were interviewed mentioned they
sell to these wholesalesr/exporters, commonly called auction houses and pack houses.
Auction houses are often organized as farmers’ cooperatives. Often, these auction
houses or pack houses are located in areas that have concentrations of farmers, such
as the Messara plains in the south Heraklio prefecture. There was no opportunity to
speak directly with these companies, so the information about their operations is
limited only to what was discussed with farmers.

4.3.5 Consumption
While this study did not gather any data directly from consumers, other than casual
conversations, both the farmers and the administration at the common market (laiki
agora/λαϊκή αγορά) revealed some observations about changes in consumer behavior
and demographics. Generally, on Crete, there is preference by Cretans to purchase
products produced on the island. Additionally, within the rest of Greece, Cretan
products – vegetables (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) especially – have a reputation of being of
very high quality. The higher quality of food was one reason that was given by
farmers for why they felt consumers preferred to purchase product directly from
farmers at the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) rather than from a
supermarket. However, the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) administration
noted some distinct changes in the demographics of consumers over the last five
years. They both mentioned that they have heard more and more (Greeks, especially)
say they prefer to shop at the large supermarkets, where they can bring their car and
buy everything they need all at once. Also, they felt that while the total number of
people shopping at the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) has not really

changed, there are fewer Greeks and more foreigners shopping here, likely attracted
by the generally lower prices found at the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά)
compared with similar products found at the supermarkets. Lastly, those who do buy
at the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) have shown more “European”
buying habits: they purchase smaller quantities and prefer products that are smaller in
size and higher in quality.


5.1 Small, Diversified and Local is More Sustainable
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations
(1995) a sustainable agriculture is not “just a means to obtain more food and income,
in socially acceptable ways which do not degrade the environment…[but rather] an
opportunity to improve the quality of the environment…and social, economic, and
institutional components.” This means sustainable agriculture and land use must
consider its multiple functions within economic, social, and environmental longevity
and as a means to improve the situation on all levels for rural and urban communities.
Small farms with localized distribution systems have been shown to address the need
to develop systems that are more sustainable economically, socially, and

The ecology behind sustainable agricultural practices revolves around closed systems
and close sourcing of inputs, ideally within a farming system (Schweisfurth, 2002). In
practice, this typically means using localized inputs (fertilizers, etc), recycling of
nutrients, and small, diversified cropping systems. Further analysis of sustainable
farm systems includes the wider community (that outside of the farm) and has grown
to include the distribution systems as well. This means sourcing imports and selling
product locally. The agricultural landscape in Crete – a primarily localized food
system, at least in the case of vegetable and field fruit production
(kipeftika/κηπευτικά), which is dominated by small, diversified farms and a consumer
base that is aware of seasonality and sophisticated in their determination of quality –
is one that is well suited to become an example of sustainability. However, the current
methods of production, the change in consumer habits and the lack of true
government support are considerable barriers to creating a truly sustainable food


5.1.1 Small, Diverse Farming Systems
The majority of farming in Crete is done on small-holdings and with diversified
cropping systems. Both these characteristics have been defined as important
components to a farm’s sustainability (Gliessman, 1998). Small farms are often
effective stewards of the available natural resources and soil, since they often have a
vested interest in its sustainability because of ownership (Rosset, 2000). Because of
the diversity of their farming systems, integration of soil amending practices like
cover crops and fallowing, and the inclusion of open space and woodlands within the
farming systems, small farms contribute positively to the surrounding environment’s
biodiversity, can reverse land degradation and soil erosion, and provide open space
for the surrounding communities (D’Souza, 1996). Reidsma (2008) has also found
that on-farm diversity can benefit an overall farming system by lessening its
vulnerability to unforeseen influences, meaning a diverse farming system is less likely
to suffer losses due to an unpredictable climate, further reinforcing its ability to be
profitable within any growing year and for the future.

Furthermore, if we consider a measure of sustainability to be the productivity of a
farming system, small farms are at least as efficient as the large more commercial
systems and there is even evidence of “diseconomies of scale as farm size increases”
(Peterson, 1997; Rossett, 1999). The data revealed an average farm size in Crete of
4.2 ha (NSSG, 2004) and each of the farmers interviewed produced at least the 13
different vegetables and fruits determined of interest for this study and usually more,
revealing generally diversified farm systems. While chemical fertilizers are
commonly used in Cretan farming, because of the nature of the small farm size and
diversified systems found in Crete, it can be stated that generally the type of vegetable
farming found in Crete is more environmentally sustainable, since it has not
experienced severe consolidation and specialization.

A report issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Commission
on Small Farms (USDA, 1998) details the many benefits of small farms. The report
refers to the numerous general public benefits gained by the presence of small farms,
beyond their environmental stewardship and including the economic benefits of

decentralized land ownership. In this case, local people owning local production
systems produce a more equitable opportunity for people in rural communities, and
create empowerment and a sense of responsibility towards their roles in the
community, leading to a sense of responsibility towards how their actions affect the
greater community. Additionally, landowners who live in the same community where
their business is located tend to solicit other local businesses and services for the
required inputs for operating their business, therefore increasing the value of the
dollar spent locally. Several studies have shown the multiplied value of locally owned
businesses: a study conducted by the USDA Department of Rural Development
(Borst, 2006) determined that locally owned businesses can create up to 2.3 times
more jobs and have 3.1 times more local dollar impact, while a similar study
conducted in Washington state showed locally directed food-related spending doubles
the number of dollars circulating within a community (Sonntag, 2008). This means
that locally owned businesses contribute significantly to the development, long-term
viability, and economic strength of a community by keeping the money spent on that
business within the community, as compared with absentee business owners. The
USDA Commission on Small Farms concludes its study with a powerful call to create
policies that support small farms in an effort to revitalize communities throughout the
United States (USDA, 1998).

These strong sentiments were echoed in the discussion with both farmers and the
administration of the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά). Many farmers
realize their importance within the communities and stated concern about the
government’s lack of support and policies that don’t support their efforts. Certainly
the discussions with the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) administration in
both prefectures revealed that farmers and those who support farmers are acutely
aware of the global crisis faced by the world-wide community of farmers and feel
they are struggling from all perspectives to validate their worth. While they all seem
to take great pride in their role, they at the same time feel that the changes within the
marketplace and society in general are putting great pressure on their survival.

While small, diverse farms have qualities that make a farming system more
sustainable than a highly mechanized resource dependent model, there are practices
currently in use by many farmers in Crete that leave significant room for
improvement. However, because of the types of farm systems already in place, Cretan
farmers are well suited to transition to more sustainable or organic practices. In fact,
owners of small, diversified farms have been shown to be the best suited and most
open to adapting more sustainable practices and extensification schemes (Mann,
2005; D’Souza, 1996), and as having the greatest success in adopting these changes.

5.1.2 Local Distribution Systems and Diverse Local Markets
As stated earlier, the developed world has noticed a new paradigm of agriculture
developing, to the point where an “alternative” method of food distribution has been
set in place to counter the large agribusiness focus under which agriculture has
developed within the last 50 years. This study determined that the current distribution
system on Crete draws more parallels to these alternative forms of distribution than
the industrialized system that is more common in northern European and north
American countries. Because of the generally localized nature of the food system in
Crete, there are great opportunities to encourage these efforts and nurture a more
sustainable food system.

There are a total of 3,231 retail operations in Crete that operate in the food sector. Of
these, only 2% are international markets (Synodinou, 2006), making the majority of
retail operations owned and operated by small locally-owned chains or cooperatives31
(such as INKA, Ariadne, COOP, or Veropolous). Therefore a maximum of 2% of the
total number of retail operations on Crete maintain their own distribution networks,
cutting local farmers out of only around 2% of the retail market. The remaining 98%
of the retail operations receive fresh produce (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) through the
existing localized distribution channels (direct sales and through the wholesale
vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά). Additionally, the research conducted in

For a detailed discussion of international supermarkets verses locally-owned businesses, see
Section 4.3.4 above.

this study shows the great majority of product sold through the wholesale vegetable
market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) is purchased from the island of Crete and often
from the same prefecture.

While this study did not determine the total volume of vegetables consumed on the
island, nor what percentage was sold through what markets, the prevalence of locally-
owned (i.e. INKA) supermarkets, greengrocers and mini-markets versus significantly
fewer international (i.e. Marinopoulous/Champion, Lidl etc.) markets leads to the
conclusion that the majority of vegetables (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) available to
consumers passes through the wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά)
or is a result of direct sales and not through the international supermarkets and their
centralized distribution chains. Figure 8 is a scale representation of the products
available to consumers at their point of purchase. It shows that of all product available
through the wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά), only a very small
percentage (the orange area in Figure 8, 0-6% of the total) could possibly be from
sources outside of Crete. Therefore if 98% of the total number of retail operations
purchase from the wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) or are a
result of direct farm to retail or consumer sales, up to 92-98% of the total fresh
vegetables and field fruits (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) available to purchase from all
retailers on the island is locally produced.

Figure 8. Scale Illustration of the Supply Chain

While this may seem like a very high number, it is only logical that such a great
majority of these products are produced locally. The research found that Crete is a
major producer of vegetables and field fruits (kipeftika/κηπευτικά), and in fact
produces enough that a significant percentage of the production is exported from
Crete. Discussions with the businesses at the wholesale vegetable market
(lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) revealed that approximately two-thirds of the total product
produced on the island remains on the island (illustrated by the left-facing arrows in
Figure 8) either moving through the wholesale vegetable market
(lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) or by direct sales. The remaining third is sold off the island
of Crete, often through sales to auction houses or to pack houses32. While it is
important to realize that a significant amount of production is sold off the island, and
therefore contributing to a more regional or global food system and economic security
for many of the producers that participate in these sales, it is at the same time
necessary to encourage the maintenance of the current localization of much of the
production, at least to the point of preventing the introduction of internationally

For a more detailed definition of these avenues of distribution, see Section 4.3.4.

owned retail operations or their centralized distribution that could complicate the
localized distribution and prevent farmers from participating in local markets. If the
growth of international markets on the island increases, which is likely (Synodinou,
2006), methods of encouraging more local purchases within the internationally owned
supermarkets should be a requirement of allowing the growth of this industry on the

Crete is fortunate in that it hasn’t developed a highly industrial food system,
especially in light of all the negative implications this type of food system has shown.
The challenge for the island now is to maintain its localized system of production and
distribution and allow for growth in the food sector at the same time, in order to make
it economically viable and attractive to future generations. While this is indeed a
difficult task, especially since all market forces seem to encourage a different kind of
development, the structures currently in place – as well as the general perception and
preferences of consumers – are a solid foundation to force development in the
direction of sustainable growth.

5.1.3 Consumer Preferences to Local Food
This study did not specifically explore consumer preferences or buying habits,
however the semi-structured nature of the questionnaires allowed for a wide range of
topics to be discussed for the purpose of initial exploration of the food system on the
island. Interviews with farmers, the administration at the common market (laiki
agora/λαϊκή αγορά), and businesses at the wholesale vegetable market
(lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) all noted some change in the nature of buying habits of
consumers. Most notably, the Secretary of the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή
αγορά) management in Heraklio noticed that over the past five years the nature of
purchases at the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) has become more
“European” – stating specifically that people are buying smaller quantities and
demanding a very high cosmetic quality. Additionally, several companies at the
wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) have noted changes in demand

from the hotels – they are requesting items that aren’t commonly grown in the area,
such as iceberg lettuce.

However, overwhelmingly, it is noted that consumers in Crete are well accustomed to
seasonal availability of different products and prefer to purchase products grown in
Crete. Additionally, throughout Greece, Cretan vegetables are known as being very
high quality, to the point where several businesses interviewed at the wholesale
vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) noted that sometimes products are
imported into Greece and then, as one company (emboros/έμπορος) employee stated,
“christened” Cretan in order to command a higher price and gain the preferential
market. Additionally, several farmers and both members of the management of the
common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) commented on the reasons why consumers
seem to purchase product directly from farmers. The reasons given were that the
consumers prefer the higher quality and freshness available when purchasing directly
from farmers. Additionally, the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) offers a
wide variety of farmers, so consumers can pick and choose which farmers they prefer
based on the quality of what is available that day. The daily presence and size of the
common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) speaks to the preference of consumers to
purchase directly from farmers; each of the markets is rather large in size, with
usually 30-100 different stands at each common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά).
These are located in various places around the cities, which, unless commonly
shopped at, would not have a population to support them33. Lastly, something that was
not formally inquired about, but was observed from the researcher’s frequent visits to
the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) was the phenomenon of tavernas and
restaurants purchasing their vegetable supplies directly from the farmers at these
markets. On a number of occasions individuals were introduced to the researcher as
taverna owners, as they were purchasing many kilograms of product.

Chania’s population is about 50,000 people and Heraklio’s about 137,700. They both have
common markets (laiki agora, λαϊκή αγορά) almost every day of the week throughout the year
and some of the farmers selling through this retail stream sell the majority of their product in
this way.

The tendency towards seasonality and locally produced product was even noted on a
market access report issued by the USDA (Synodinou, 2006). These consumer
familiarities and preferences support the idea that in the case of fresh product, Crete's
food system is already mainly localized.

5.2 Barriers to Greater Sustainability

5.2.1 Farmer Production Practices
A major focus of sustainable agriculture revolves around how the product is
produced. While the majority of farms producing vegetables in Crete are small-
holdings with diverse products, there is also a great dependence on chemical
fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides (as indicated by the small percentage of farmers
utilizing integrated and organic farming techniques). These practices can degrade the
integrity of the soil, and if not countered with other methods of pest control and soil
amendments, can lead to greater and greater dependency on these products (Matson et
al., 1997). One common complaint of the farmers interviewed was the rising cost of
these inputs. It would benefit the farmers greatly, and improve the long-term viability
of their land, to adopt practices that are now taught under the category of organic or
biological agriculture, such as compost amendments, crop rotations, and companion
plantings. Additionally, lessening the dependence of farmers on these chemicals can
greatly reduce their costs of outside inputs and therefore increase their overall
profitability. However, educating farmers in these practices requires both the
willingness of the farmer and an individual to transfer this knowledge. Both of these
may be of little availability in Crete, which, coupled with an older farming population,
could explain the existing limited presence of these more sustainable farming
practices on the island.

5.2.2 Lack of Consumer Support and Presence of International Supermarkets
While there is a great tendency of consumers to prefer local products in Crete, it is
very likely that this could change. The convenience of purchasing everything in one
place has encouraged consumers to purchase all their products from the supermarkets,

many of which do not carry locally produced vegetables. Both the farmers and the
management of the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) noticed that consumers
were beginning to prefer shopping at supermarkets and it is likely this will continue,
especially as the number of supermarkets on the island increases and more consumers
occupy multiple-income households, where all family members work outside the

5.2.3 Government Support
All the farmers noted the lack of support for small farming efforts. Additionally, the
management at the common market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά) seemed in constant
struggle with the municipal governments to maintain good locations for the markets.
Without government support of the current efforts and greater support to expand these
efforts, the localized food system could very well be co-opted by the increasing
presence of international supermarkets and erode the already localized nature of the
food system. Additionally, government support to increase sustainable production
practices would help to improve the environmental sustainability of the farms

A study conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD, 1998) showed that from 1985-1996 there was a 7.5% increase in the number of two-
adult households with both adults working.


The food industry in many developed nations is experiencing a paradigm shift where
development is being focused around community-based systems with short supply
chains, rather than export-driven and industrial commodity-based systems. As a result
of consumer dissatisfaction with food quality, in many instances due to concerns of
food safety and environmental detriment of industrial agriculture, there is a growing
movement to re-localize the global food system. The benefits of localization are wide,
but can be summarized in its flexibility to alter forms of production and distribution to
maintain success and therefore long-term sustainability for the whole system.

The extreme intensification of agriculture was never fully adopted in Greece, more
specifically in Crete. Agriculture in Greece is still dominated by small-holdings with
mostly diversified production systems and is a focus of Greek life. However, being
more traditional in practice, these diversified, small holding systems are seen as a
relic of the past, not as a key element to the future paradigm of agriculture. It is
through the integration of traditional ideals and modern methods of production and
distribution that agriculture in Crete could develop into an example for food system
sustainability; a diversified production system, that effectively and efficiently uses
local resources to provide high quality food, distributed equitably to meet the needs of
the local community without compromising available resources for future generations.
There is presently great opportunity to develop the agricultural sector and the food
distribution system in a way that provides the greatest benefits to all actors in both the
existing and future communities in Crete. This ideal is best encompassed in the
concept of localized, community-based food systems.

This study, through interviews and observations, determined the piece of the food
chain involving Cretan produced vegetables and fruits grown in the field
(kipeftika/κηπευτικά). It also determined the percentage of locally produced versus
imported product that moves through one of the main distribution channels, the
wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά). Additionally, through


interviews and numerous informal visits with farmers, the study explored the state of
mind of many farmers involved in vegetable production. Through these case studies,
it was found that two thirds of vegetables and field fruits (kipeftika/κηπευτικά)
produced on the island is kept on the island to meet the needs of the local market.
Additionally, it was discovered that for the major mechanism by which these products
are distributed to retail operations and institutions (restaurants, hospitals, universities,
etc) a great majority of the food is produced locally, resulting in the conclusion, at
least in the case of vegetables and fruits (kipeftika/κηπευτικά), that Crete’s food
system is highly localized. This, along with the dominant typology of farming as
small, diverse farms, puts Crete in a positive position to develop a model for
sustainable development in agriculture.

The initial intent of this study was to discover the areas where local farmers are being
prevented from entering the market. However, upon investigation, this study
determined that the majority of farmers are indeed accessing local markets, since the
food system is strongly regionally based. The distribution system in Crete, at least in
the case of vegetables and fruits produced in the field (kipeftika/κηπευτικά), was
found for the most part to be a local or regionalized system, based within the island’s
geographic boundaries and more often even within the boundaries of the prefectures
of the island. It is for this reason that Crete is actually ahead of the paradigm for
agricultural development. Since agriculture on the island has not yet undergone a
great level of intensification in agriculture nor developed a system based solely on
export production, Crete’s food system has achieved what many developed nations
are just now beginning to reinvent. However, it faces some challenges in the fact that
the policies are focused around preserving the past rather than integrating the
functions of the past into the development of agriculture for the future or solely
around production for export.

It was noted in the previous section that a localized food system does not necessarily
always equate to greater environmental sustainability. This was shown to be the case
when looking at the production practices common to many of the farmers who depend
greatly on outside inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. However, these farmers

were also smaller in size and diverse in production, characteristics which have shown
to have positive impacts in the viability of rural communities. Additionally, small
diversified farming systems have been shown to be open to and have greater success
in adopting measures to improve the practices in ways that are beneficial to the
environment and the economic well-being of the farm systems, such as organic
production measures (Mann, 2005; D’Souza, 1996). All of these factors lead to the
ability of Crete to develop its agricultural system better than has been done in other
developed nations: Crete can learn from the mistakes made by industrial profit-driven
models of production and distribution and further develop their food system in ways
that will ultimately lead to a healthier environment and a healthier population,
avoiding all the missteps of environmental degradation and nutrition related illnesses
they are currently beginning to face.

However, there are already some signs that Crete will ignore mistakes made by other
developing nations. Specifically, the introduction and growth of international
supermarkets on the island (along with their centralized distribution systems), a shift
in consumers’ buying habits, and an ageing farmer population are all signs that the
current localized food system and diversified small holdings which provide product to
this system are in danger. Additionally, farming as an occupation is not given the
proper respect within society that it should receive. All the farmers interviewed
expressed concerns about the lack of support they receive from the government and
the (most precisely, urban) communities, and the fact that the youth do not see a
future in farming. Without the proper support from society as a whole, smaller scale
farming can almost certainly see extinction on the horizon.

There is great opportunity now to take advantage of the fact that farming and food
still maintain a core in the Cretan culture. Cretans are beginning to experience
problems of obesity in their children (Mamalakis, 2000) and farmers are beginning to
face the difficulties associated with dependence on chemical fertilizers. Generally,
people are noting an erosion of community, while others are simultaneously
embracing the idea that localized production and community markets can provide the

solution to this “great social crisis”35. Building the ideals of sustainability into the
food system by placing greater importance on small scale, regenerative production
practices and community-based distribution – and following it up with support –
could be an end to greater social erosion and environmental degradation.

6.1 Recommendations for Further Research
In the whole perspective of gaining an understanding of the total food system on the
island of Crete, this study was rather limited in scope. It only covers vegetable and
some fruit production and the majority of the data revolves around what is sold
through the wholesale vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) and the common
market (laiki agora/λαϊκή αγορά), leaving unknown the exact map of one third of
Crete’s total (kipeftika/κηπευτικά) production. Additionally, the consumption data is
also limited to what was sold through these two streams and didn’t look specifically
into the internationally-owned supermarkets’ distribution systems. Finally, while
vegetables and fruits are a large part of the Cretan diet, there are other aspects of the
food system that were completely left out of this study due to resource constraints and
should be examined to gain a more complete picture. The recommendations for
further research revolve mostly around expanding the scope of the study and include
the following specific questions:

• What is the path from production to sale at the auction and pack houses.
• What is the final destination of the product sold through these auctions and pack
• What is the origin of vegetables and fruits sold at all retail operations in Crete,
including international supermarkets and hotels (both the geographic origin and
examining the path backwards from retail to farm to determine the chain of middle

As stated by Mr. Kostas Kapastanakis, President of the Chania Common Market (laiki
agora/ λαϊκή αγορά).

• What are the consumption patterns and preferences of consumers in order to
determine change in both purchasing and general eating habits.
• How do other products move into and out of the island of Crete (mapping of other
products, dairy, grains, meats) in order to understand the complete picture of the food
system on the island.
• What is the total volume (or monetary value) of Cretan products consumed locally
versus what is sent off the island.
• What is the total volume (or monetary value) of imported products consumed

Additionally, since the end goal of understanding the current food system would be to
inform policies that can best benefit the local community, it would be interesting to
look at the impact of current policies on food production and changes in the retail
landscape and determine, from farmers’ and consumers’ perspectives, the positive and
negative aspects of these changes.

Lastly, it was stated several times that the volume of food sold through the wholesale
vegetable market (lachanagora/λαχαναγορά) changed significantly during the height
of the tourist season. It seemed that the demand during this season was met with local
product. However, it would be interesting to see if there is an area where local
consumption exceeds production, either during a certain season or for a certain
product, so that production can be encouraged in a way that meets this demand, if

Each of these questions would bring us closer to understanding the true food system
in Crete and enable opportunities to improve on areas where farmers are not meeting
demand or where retail operations can be encouraged to purchase from local farmers
in order to create a closed food system. The general strength of the localized
production and consumption system in the case of vegetables and field fruits
(kipeftika/κηπευτικά) is a strong indicator that it will endure changes within the retail
landscape. However, it is necessary to gain a thorough understanding of the complete

food system in order to direct policy and practice that will support the vitality of the
rural communities of Crete – environmentally, economically and socially – in concert
with inevitable development of the agricultural sector.

Abate, Tsedeke, Jean Albergel, Inge Armbrecht, Patrick Avato, Satinder Bajaj,
Nienke Beintema, Rym ben Zid, Rodney Brown, Lorna M. Butler, Fabrice Dreyfus,
Kristie L. Ebi, Shelley Feldman, Alia Gana, Tirso Gonzales, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim,
Jack Heinemann, Thora Herrmann, Angelika Hilbeck, Hans Hurni, Sophia Huyer,
Janice Jiggins, Joan Kagwanja, Moses Kairo, Rose R. Kingamkono, Gordana
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Distributor Survey
Write Up
Interview conducted June 25, 2008
Interpreter: Adamatia Kotinakki

Location #19

Company Name: Manoli Maragothakis
Interviewee Name: Same as company
Job: Owner (with his son)

Sells to Chania and Rethymno

Company Structure:
3 permanent employees

no seasonal labor

Type of product:
sells all vegetables listed except non-irrigated okra and tomatoes

Demographics of purchases:
Purchases from both farmers and wholesalers in Chania and Heraklio.
Purchases more in the summer from farmers in Chania, in winter more from other
areas of Crete.

About 20% of purchases from Heraklio

Demographics of sales:
Sells to all retailers listed except universities


Additional markets: laiki and mobile markets (guys with trucks who drive around to

Could not provide percentage of sales, so ranked clients in the following order:
1. Hospitals
2. Laiki and Mobile markets
3. Old-peoples homes
4. Hotels
5. Restaurants
6. Greengrocers
7. Supermarkets

Buys imported product from other wholesalers, but not directly from importers

Sells to Chania and Rethymno prefecture
About 80% of product is sold within Chania, bout 20% of sales to Heraklio

While the percentage of sales doesn’t change, the amount decreases considerably in
the winter time.

Number of Suppliers:
Purchases product 2 days per week – about 18 total farmers and 18 total wholesalers
per week.

Distributor Survey
Write Up
Interview conducted June 25, 2008
Interpreter: Adamatia Kotinakki

Location #4

Company Name: Oporoemboriki Chanion
Interviewee Name: Sarris Ntentakis
Job: Owner/Operator

Company Structure:
4 permanent staff, 2 partners (total 6 people)
No seasonal labor

Type of product:
Sells all vegetables listed (not non-irrigated tomatoes)

Sells to all listed plus laiki, mobile markets, karavali (ferries)

Demographic of purchases:
90% of his product comes from Chania
10% rest of Greece
more in summer, less in winter, but % is the same. Mainly vegetables in winter from

He said here he used to purchase the product, but there was so much waste that he
changed practice to consignment.

Also noted that he buys his fruits from wholesalers in Athens in the winter.

Demographic of sales:
Supermarkets/greengrocers/minimarkets: 70%

20% rest
10% waste
**here he mentioned he doesn’t actually purchase anything, he acts as a
representative of the farmer, selling his product. If he is not able to sell the product,
the farmer keeps the product. If he sells it, he takes 15% fee plus ELGA tax – about
3%. For imported products this tax is 19%. (This ELGA tax goes to subsidies)

Sells to Chania, Rethymno Heraklio, Lathisi Departments
Also sells out of Crete to Greece (Attica – Athens) occasionally other areas

Sells 80% of his product in Chania, 20% to the rest of Greece. Never outside of

Number of suppliers:
Total farmers works with: 1050. Weekly about 70-80…but less in winter.

Doesn’t purchase from wholesalers.

Distributor Survey
Write Up
Interview conducted June 25, 2008
Interpreter: Adamatia Kotinakki

Location #9

Company Name: Froutemboriki Xanion
Interviewee Name: X. Papadakis
Job: Owner (with his son)

Company Structure:
6 total staff – 2 drivers 2 workers, 2 bosses

1-2 seasonal workers in the summer

Operates in all Crete, all Greece, and within EU (Italy, Spain, Holland – less than
Italy and Spain)

Imports yearly, but exports from Greece only occasionally. Will export to other
countries if they have experienced a disaster – ex: loss from frost. This has happened
only twice in 15 years.

Type of product:

Sells all vegetables listed except non-irrigated okra and tomatoes

Demographics of purchases:

Purchases 60-70% of product from Chania, rest from Crete.
“mainly” from farmers, but some wholesale purchases

Only in cases of loss b/c of weather will he purchase outside of Crete

Approximately 80% of product from Chania – but it changes by the season and by the
product. Ex: in the winter purchases 70% of cabbage, lettuce, (brassicas) from Chania,
in summer 80% of melons from Chania.

The rest comes from outside Chania, in Crete

The amount he purchases from outside of Crete is negligible, although it happens
sometimes b/c of weather situation (ex: now 70% of his lemons are from Argentina
because of a rough year weather wise). Also for outside of Greece purchases.

Demographics of sales:
Sells to all retailers listed and added boats and sweetshops (strawberries)

50-60% Supermarkets (includes green grocers?)
40% hotels (peak season only)

On off season percentage changes, much less to hotels.

Sells product outside of Greece, but mostly to Cyprus and is not a significant amount.

About 80% of product is sold within Chania, 20% to Rethymno. No change in winter
season (percentage).

Number of Suppliers:
Purchases from about 30 farmers weekly, the same in the summer, but different
farmers b/c product is different.

Purchases from approximately 15-20 wholesalers weekly.

Other discussions: When he asked why I was interested in this, and I explained that I
was focused on localized food system, he said it can never happen. Basically why is
this: Crete is self-sufficient, but when weather doesn’t cooperate, they need to import

because they need the product. Also, if it is cheaper for him to purchase from
somewhere else in Greece, he will. If he can buy something for 70cent and then sell it
for 1 euro, that is better than purchasing at the 2euro price the Cretan source was

Also, we were talking about importing a product when the supply is obviously
available in Crete (ex: oranges and avocado). He mentioned the fact that LIDL
markets will bring imported oranges into Crete because they have their distribution
center in Athens and just send the same stuff everywhere in Greece. This is stupid,
however, since often in the case of oranges, they will sell them at a cost higher than
anywhere you would find oranges sold in Crete. He “doesn’t understand why they do
things like this”.

Distributor Survey
Write Up
Interview conducted July 2, 2008
Interpreter: Yiorgos Eleftheriou

Location # 15

Company Name: Yiorgakakis Haral.
Interviewee Name: G. Yiorgakakis
Job: Owner

Company Structure:
There is one permanent staff and one seasonal staff

Type of product:
He sells all listed, except non-irrigated tomatoes

Demographics of purchases:
[Interviewer’s note: I don’t think he made the distinction between fruits and
vegetables. He kept mentioning that he buys kiwi and bananas from Chile even
though the questions were rephrased to ask only about vegetables.]

70% of his product comes from farmers from Crete, the majority from Chania, he
couldn’t say exactly.

He doesn’t buy from wholesalers in Crete.

He purchases from wholesalers from Macedonia, but mentioned specifically peaches
and plums. [See interviewer’s note above]

20% of sales are from wholesalers outside of Crete and 10% from wholesalers outside
of Greece (importers). He usually imports only fruit from other countries.

However, in the last few years at the height of the summer, he has been purchasing
things like tomatoes, etc from counties like Bulgaria. He purchases from outside the
country when the demand is greater than the local supply.

Demographics of sales:
10% of his product is sold to restaurants and 90% to the mini-markets (green grocers).
He sells a nominal amount to laiki and to a hotel. In the winter, the percentage of sales
to restaurants is less and more to greengrocers, but it is only a slight difference.

He sells only to Chania, and a negligible amount to Rethymno.

Number of Suppliers:
He purchases from about 10 farmers and 10 wholesalers per week in the summer. In
the winter, he purchases from about 5 farmers and 15 wholesalers.

Distributor Survey
Write Up
Interview conducted July 2, 2008
Interpreter: Yiorgos Eleftheriou

Location #16

Company Name: Daskalakis & Co.
Interviewee Name: M. Daskalakis
Job: Owner/operator

Company Structure:
5 permanent staff
No seasonal labor

Type of product:
Sells all listed, except non-irrigated tomatoes
Also pointed out that he sells snails

Demographics of purchases:
He purchases only from farmers within Crete, but from all districts. 100% from
Chania summer, although purchases more from Heraklio/Lasithi in winter (60%).

Purchases a very small amount of potatoes, onions and viota from Macedonia, from
wholesalers. [Interviewers note: he couldn’t give accurate percentage here, he said it
wasn’t a regular occurrence.]

Doesn’t’ buy from importers

Demographics of sales:

Sells to restaurants, hotels and minimarkets (greengrocers), laiki, boats, and to the
U.S. navy base

Summer: Sells 50% of product to restaurants, 30% to hotels about 5% each to Laiki
and greengrocers and 10% total to boats and the U.S. navy. [Interviewers Note: I
think he may have mentioned the navy only because I am from the US. He said they
“buy lettuce and tomatoes to make sandwiches”. It is probably a very insignificant
part of his business.]

Winter: Sells 15% to restaurants, 60% to greengrocers/laiki and about 20% to ships
and the navy. He said the amount of food greatly decreases in the winter.
He also noted that these numbers don’t reflect the losses. [Interviewers note: He
implied that he has trouble selling his product in the winter, but stated that he ends up
throwing away a lot more.] He said “there are many causalities in the winter”

He sells 80% of his product to Chania and about 20% to Rethymno. It is the same in
the winter.

He used to sell to Athens, but he said “they didn’t pay me so I stopped”. Further
inquiry revealed this meant he wasn’t making enough money off the sales to Athens.

Number of Suppliers:
He works with over 100 farmers in the summer, much less in the winter, with about
40-50 consistently per week.

He purchases from 0-5 wholesalers depending upon the time of year.

[Interviewer’s Note: He mentioned that almost no one at the lahanagora sells outside
of Chania, but there was one stall across the way where the distributor sells to Athens
and sometimes outside of Athens.]

Farmer Interviews
Chania Laiki nr. Papanistrasou St.
May 19, 2008

Interpreter: Evangelia Voutsaki

Leon Lougodakis
Has been farming since he was young – 67 years (his whole life). He father was a
farmer. He has 50 stremmata, including some acres of orange and olive trees.

He only sells to the laiki.

Georgos Akoumianakis
[Interviewers Note: We spoke with a woman who said she was the mother of the
owner. She helps at the markets when her son is in the fields or otherwise involved.
Sells fruits. Had cherries at the time, also has pears, oranges. She sells to both the laiki
and to supermarkets. While the prices at supermarkets are much lower that what she
can charge at the laiki, she sells them a larger quantity, so still finds it profitable.

Nikos Markakis
He has been farming for 72 years. (He has been farming since he was a child.) His
parents were farmers. He likes to sell to the laiki because it is the best way to get fresh
product to his customers. If he doesn’t sell it today, he throws it away, so everything
is as fresh as possible.

He did feel that he was isolated: no state support, little support from consumers. Feels
he is fighting a battle alone.

Has 6 stremmata vegetables.

Sells only to laiki.

Adonis Marogkodakis

20 stremmata only produce
Sells only to laiki, but most markets and year round.
He prefers the laiki, because he wants to sell directly to his customers. He doesn’t
want to give money to the middle men who do nothing.

[Interviewer’s note: Compared to some of the other farmers, he had a very wide
variety of produce and of good quality. He was only one of a handful of younger
farmers there…he was probably in his mid 40s.]

Has been farming 20 years, about. He works 18 hour days and also feels like the state
offers no support. He also complained about the great increase in the price of inputs
(fertilizers, specifically) this year from 15- 27 from last year to this year.

Nikos (Eva’s father)
Farms 8 stremma.

Also has additional land with fruit and olive trees

Sells only to laiki, 3 times per week. Said that he used to sell to the wholesalers
(lachanagora) but they were offering him low prices and then adding on their own
costs, and selling it for more than he would charge at the laiki. So he decided to cut
out the middle and sell to laiki.

Is doing some innovative experiments: soil amendments with manure from a major
meat company (Creta Farm). Also, has arrangements with people similar to CSA, for
example, families will tell him they will purchase one chicken per week, so he
reserves them for him. He knows he can rely on this market, even if payment up front
doesn’t happen.

He son will take over the farm when he retires.
Laiki “President”
Kostas Kapastanakis
Tel: 6992294572

Date of interview: June 21, 2008
Translator: Evangelia Voutsaki

Total Number Farmers at Laiki: 100
Total Number Embros at Laiki: 20 [Interviewer’s note: does not include those that sell
products other than food.]

Kostas stated that including the clothes-sellers, the ratio was about 1 to 1. However,
there is a law that states the number of farmers to emboros must be no greater than 9
to 1. Kostas stated that it was politics that has changed the ratio – meaning someone
coerced the old market president to allow more emboros and he hasn’t been able to
change it back. Also, there is a law that states those who are allowed to sell as
emboros must be of lower socio-economic status, then they are given permission to
sell wholesale garments and food at the laiki, which isn’t necessarily followed.

However, he said that he likes having the emboros at the market because they offer
products from other parts of Greece that are more abundant and at different times of
the year (ex apples from the north). This is attractive to the consumers.

Did not have sales information. Said it varied considerably among farmers and
emboros. However, he did mention that in the summer the prices are considerably less
than similar products in the winter…more product causes lower prices. He also said
that years before, you could make a lot of money in the laiki. Now it is not so certain.

Difficulties with market management:
It is governed by a group that includes the mayor of the town, building
inspectors, traffic police, archeologists, and there is space for 5 farmers which sell at
the market. However, he is the only person who attends the meetings and is and
speaks on behalf of the farmers. The administration constantly tries to change the
location of the market each year and has been putting the market in less and less
desirable locations (out of the way, out of food traffic, etc). Also, each time they
change the neighborhood of the laiki, there is a fight from the residents in that area

because of the noise, mess, and the fact that they close the roads (limits parking).
Also, they have trouble with the health department inspectors.

Difficulties from farmer’s perspective:
The politicians push the “cheap food” agenda, but that doesn’t take into
consideration the needs of the farmers.
The farmers are not aware of the total sales, the don’t know how much they
will make at the market each week.

Changes in consumer buying habits:
He has noticed less people coming to the market and has heard people
preferring the big supermarkets, where they can bring their car to the big parking lat
and buy everything.
However, the consumers that come to the laiki say they come because it is the
freshest and the best quality.
Some questions that consumers ask at the market are about the prices, why is
the same product cheaper at the supermarket, but the farmers are able to answer that
they have a better quality at the laiki. Also, at the laiki, you have a choice of product –
you can pick the best. At the supermarket you have only products from one place
[Interviewers note: there are only lemons from one farm/distributor. At laiki,
everyone has lemons so you can pick the best quality at the best price]

Kostas here talked a lot about the social aspects of the laiki…here everyone in the
neighborhood comes and you can talk with people. Also he spoke about the fact that
you can ask questions about the products with the farmers and that the world is now
experiencing a “crisis of human relations”. The laiki is the solution…it is one way to
bring people together again around food. [Interviewers note: this was really apparent
to me within the farmers at the market. They all know each other and are friendly with
each other and will even make a sale for their neighbor if he/she steps away from the
stand for a moment. Also, when we were walking through the market, (me and the
translator, two young women) with Kostas, all the farmers were teasing him. Yelling
things that you would say to a good friend, such as “I see you with those two girls.”

And “ Take care of those girls” and “do you need some help with the girls?” It was
actually cute, even if it seems a little off color. ]

Changes in farmers:
They are getting older and there isn’t interest from young people. The money isn’t
attractive to the young people and also farmers are discouraging their children from
staying in farming. They want their children to have a better life. Also, the kids don’t
want to work they want to relax and “drink frappe” all the time.

The number of farmers at the laiki has decreased because they are going out of
business…as a result of the higher cost of inputs.

[Note from interviewer: I asked him why he decided to take on the role of president of
the market. He told me that he has been in this role for 4 years, but started in the
1980’s selling things (trinkets, etc) illegally in the market. He grew up in Mournes, a
village just outside of Chania town, and was involved in a group of social activists
and with farming cooperatives. He also saw an opportunity to help the farmers – he
can think politically and talk the talk, but he doesn’t have any political affiliation, so
he doesn’t need to do any favors. He honestly operates for the good of the farmers.

I also asked him what he thinks would improve the situation. He wants the farmers to
be more active in the council. There are spots for five farmer members of the Laiki
council, but he is the only farmer on the council. He wants them to get more involved
in improving their own situation.
Also, he wants the office for the laiki moved out of Chania to a location more
accessible to farmers.


Laiki “Vice President”
Date of interview: July 10, 2008
Translator: Agapi Vassiliou

Total Number Farmers at Laiki:
There are 120-130 farmers at the Thurs. laiki that we went to. There are 6 total in the
city of Heraklio, more in the “suburbs” of the city that are run by those municipalities.

Total Number Embros at Laiki:
~170 emboros, including those who sell food (fish, bread, fruit, bakers, dairy) and
non-food items.

Varies a lot – could be between 150-1500 euro per day, also varies according to
season products more expensive in winter

He mentioned that this year the sales were much lower because of the worldwide

Difficulties with market management:
The biggest difficulty is the size – at any market there is over 200 stands and space is
always a limitation.

Also he discussed how the members of the laiki are organized like in a union, they
have a committee that advises the minister of trade for the municipality. He is the one
that makes all the decisions; the committee has no actual power. They are consistently
dealing with issues of space and the presence of individuals selling illegal products or
products illegally.

Difficulties from farmer’s perspective:


It is always an issue with farmers for the location of the stand… this influences sales
and the management of the arrangement always seems to disadvantage the farmers.
The presence of emboros is also unfair for the farmers.

[Interviewer’s Note: Even while we were speaking, a farmer came up to the VP
complaining about the fact that he had no space, that someone had pushed their way
into his area.]

He mentioned specifically the problem that resulted out of the farm that when there
was a great exchange of populations from the USSR, the Greeks that were returned to
Greece were given special permission to sell products from their house. This was
supposed to be for a limited time, but now there are a number of them that are able to
sell and there are too many of them.

Changes in consumer buying habits:
He thinks consumers have become more ‘European’, meaning they purchase in
smaller quantities. Before, people didn’t mind if they ended up throwing out food,
now they don’t like to do this. Also they want products themselves that are smaller
(bigger is not better). And they seem to be more demanding in terms of quality.

Also, there are probably the same number of people at the markets, but more
foreigners shop there than before. Products are cheaper and now Greeks go more
often to supermarkets. Even as little as 5 years ago, there were more Greeks, but the
immigrant population has increased greatly in these past years and they shop at the
laiki because of cheaper prices.

Changes in farmers:
Thinks that as of now, all farmers that sell kipeftika sell products from Crete, no
where else. He also said that they now have more space [for growing] and variety than

Thinks on average the age of farmers selling at the market is about 40-50. Law states
that farmers can work up to 70, 65 for non-farmers.

History of Laiki was discussed: he said it was stared in 1922 by Venesuelos to give
opportunities to farmers to sell directly to consumers. The makeup of the market was
supposed to have been 90% food/farmers and 10% non-food. Now, it is much greater,
almost an equal amount of emboros (non-food) to food stands.

He also mentioned how the management of oil in Europe has spoiled everything. (not
exactly sure what he meant by that, but didn’t press, because translator was tired).

Distributor Survey
Write Up
Interview conducted July 9, 2008
Interpreter: Agapi Vassiliou

Location # Heraklio Lachanagora

Company Name: Tatarakis Dimos
Interviewee Name: Tatarakis, Yiannis
Job: Owner (actually son is owner)

Company Structure:
Only 1 full time employee (his son) but he also volunteers to help out, when his son is
off doing other things (ex: procuring product).

Type of product:
Sells everything listed, except lettuce and onions and spinach

Demographics of purchases:
He doesn’t purchase anything from any other wholesalers, only form farmers. And
100% of product comes from Crete.

In summer:
50% of total purchases are from farmers in Heraklio
30% of total purchases are from farmers in Rethymno
10% of total purchases are from farmers in Chania
10% of total purchases are from farmers in Lasithi

In winter:
30% of total purchases are from farmers in Heraklio
30% of total purchases are from farmers in Rethymno
5% of total purchases are from farmers in Chania
35% of total purchases are from farmers in Lasithi

He mentioned this change in % during winter because he was estimating by weight.
He buys more heavy vegetables during the winter and therefore that skews the %.

Demographics of sales:
He sells only to supermarkets/mini-markets and greengrocers. He doesn’t know the
percentage of each since he is not totally always familiar with exactly what kind of
store a buyer has, plus it is difficult to distinguish between greengrocers and mini-
markets. Pure green grocers are not as commonly found anymore, since most places
sell a variety of products, like a supermarket, and have an area for fresh product.

At this point we had a discussion about the different kinds of supermarkets and what
is called a supermarket. It seems many different kinds of stores are called
supermarkets. A supermarket can be both an internationally owned chain and a locally
owned mini-market. However, when he says supermarkets, he means the locally
owned mini-markets or the national franchise owned by V{{{%{$#{% which are
usually Spar or Ariadne stores. These stores make cooperative purchases of dried
goods and household goods, but each store makes their own purchases for fresh
products (vegetables, etc).

In summer:
90% of his product is sold to Heraklio
10% to the Aegean Islands

In the winter:
Nearly 100% of product is sold to Heraklio
Less than 1% is sold to the islands

He also mentioned that the supermarkets buy more in the summer in the tourist areas,
but this doesn’t change %. The volume is greater, but the ratio is the same.

Number of Suppliers:
He deals with about 10 farmers/week, but they come at least 2 times per week.

He also talked a little about the history of his business and the lachanagora. His
business was started in 1959 and he was a part of the lachanagora since then. He said
the number of distributors hasn’t really changed since then. He also doesn’t like the
building they are in, he thought it should be circular so that everyone can see
everyone else’s shop. He thought this would encourage greater cooperation. When
asked how much they cooperate now, he said they do come to some level of
agreement about product prices and will cooperate on sales. For example if one buyer
wants more of one product that he has or wants additional products that he doesn’t
carry, they will work together either by recommending another wholesaler or buying
items from each other in order to fulfill the order of their client.

Distributor Survey
Write Up
Interview conducted July 10, 2008
Interpreter: Agapi Vassiliou

Location # Heraklio Lachanagora

Company Name: Emmanuel Maltezakis Emborio – Frouta - Lachanika
Interviewee Name: Maltezakis, Manolis
Job: Owner/Operator

Company Structure:
He has about 10 permanent staff, not all full time.

Type of product:
Sells all listed except greenhouse eggplant

Demographics of purchases:
He purchases 60% of all his product from farmers, 40% from other wholesalers

85% of his product comes from Crete
68% of total purchases comes from farmers from Heraklio
10% of total purchases comes from farmers within Crete, outside of Heraklio
7% of total purchases comes from wholesalers within Crete, outside of Heraklio
15% of his product comes from wholesalers or cooperatives outside of Crete, within
Greece (Central Greece, Peloponnese)

He mentions that when he buys potatoes, onions and carrots, they come from
cooperatives in Central Greece, not wholesalers.

He mentioned that he has a lot of friends and family in farming, so while he may be
able to find some products cheaper somewhere else, he is obliged to purchase from

Demographics of sales:
Sells to all listed plus catering, mobile markets, and laiki
His main markets are the supermarkets/mini-markets and hotels.

70% of his annual sales happen in the summer, 30% in winter. He didn’t know
percentages, but said that his main markets are the super/mini-markets and hotels.
Others were much less.

90% of his product is sold in Crete
54% of total sales are in Heraklio
35% of total sales are in Crete, outside of Heraklio
10% of product is sold to Aegean Islands

97-98% Crete
2-3% Islands

Number of Suppliers:
He works with a total of 135 farmers, sees about 40 of them per week, less in the

He works with only about 10 distributors.

He also mentioned that they often go directly to the farm to purchase product.

[Interviewer’s note: There was no cooling facility in his shop, one of the only that I
saw in Heraklio market without cooling. However, there was a lift to a storage area
underground that may be cooled.
Distributor Survey
Write Up
Interview conducted July 10, 2008

Interpreter: Agapi Vassiliou

Location # Heraklio Lachanagora

Company Name: Emm & Mix. Klironomos OE
Interviewee Name: Petros Klironomos
Job: Accounting (son of owner)

Company Structure:
3 full time employees, no seasonal labor

Type of product:
Sold all listed except non-irrigated tomatoes

Demographics of purchases:
90% of purchases are directly form farmers, only 10% from other wholesalers
All products mentioned are from Crete, doesn’t purchase from outside the island

100% of purchases are form Crete
65% of purchases are from Heraklio
58.5% of total purchases are from farmers in Heraklio
6.5% of total purchases are from wholesalers in Heraklio
30% of purchases are from Lasithi
30% of total purchases are from farmers in Lasithi
5% of purchases are from Rethymno
4.5% of total purchases are from farmers from Rethymno
0.5% of total purchases are from wholesalers from Rethymno

He mentioned here that he does purchase products from wholesalers that purchase
product from other countries. So while he doesn’t import product from outside of
Crete or Greece, he does sell product that is from other areas in Greece and outside of
Greece. This may be a small amount, but it does exist.

Demographics of sales:
Sells to super/mini-markets, restaurants, hotels, greengrocers, old peoples homes,
Makro (wholesale store – cash & carry), other wholesalers, catering, mobile markets,

60% of his product is sold to greengrocers
15% to supermarkets
15% to hotels
5% to restaurants
5% to “others”

75% of his product is sold to greengrocers
15% to supermarkets
5% to restaurants
5% to “others”

70% of total product is sold to Heraklio
15% to Chania
5% to Rethymno
10% outside of Crete (to Aegean Islands)

70% to Heraklio
20% Chania
10% Rethymno
2-3% to Islands

Also, since he deals with the auctions in Timbaki, he sometimes sells stuff to Lasithi
when they don’t have product in the summer. He said he buys their tomatoes in the
winter and sells them tomatoes in the summer.

Number of Suppliers:
He works with about 35 farmers per week in the summer. They sell a few times/week.
In the winter it is more like 30 farmers

He purchases from about 20 wholesalers, but different companies throughout the year
depending upon the season.

I asked him a few extra questions, since we were able to speak in English. But he
deferred the answer to an older man. I asked if he has noticed a change in the
business, where the food is coming from, type of products, etc. He said yes, there was
a change, the volume has definitely increased. Also recently he has noticed a change
in the types of vegetables coming though the market. For example, clients are
requesting iceberg lettuce and other things not produced on the island. However, he
thought the % coming from outside the island was about the same.

Interview with Lachanagora secretary
July 9, 2008
Interpreter: Agapi Vassiliou

Interviewer’s Notes: I asked him to discuss the answers as what he could determine is
the case with the entire market system. The results he offers should be a general
overview of what happens at the lachanagora, on average.

There are 40 companies at the lachanagora with about a total of 100 employees. He
thinks about 80% of the employees are full time with 20% of them seasonal or part
time labor. This may only be this high a number in the summer.

They sell all vegetables listed, including non-irrigated tomatoes, but a negligible

In order of importance, from most to least they purchase kepeftika from farmers and
wholesalers Heraklio, Lasithi, Rethymno, Chania.

Approximately 70% of the purchases in summer come from Heraklio
49% of total purchases are from the farmers in Heraklio
21% of total purchases are from wholesalers in Heraklio
Approximately 20% of purchases in summer come from other areas of Crete
14% of total purchases are from farmers in other areas of Crete
6% of total purchases are from wholesalers in other areas of Crete
Approximately 10% of purchases in summer come from other areas of Greece, and all
of this from wholesalers

In the winter, it is slightly different:
More purchases from outside Greece, possibly up to 20%, potatoes, onions, broccoli,
cabbage, etc.
More also from outside of Heraklio (Lasithi), but still majority from Crete.

Does purchase from Holland and Italy, from importers.

Sells to all listed, included also the army, ferries, mobile markets, catering, the laiki
and each other. When asked about “each other” he said they tend to specialize
slightly, so will purchase from one another if a customer wants a product one emboros
doesn’t have.

Also, it was mentioned here about the different kinds of supermarkets. The
interviewee said that it is not uncommon for some of the smaller, local chains to
purchase from the lachanagora. It is only the international chains that have their own
distribution center in Athens for example.

He wasn’t able to give a percentage of sales for each market. What he was able to tell
us was that in general, during the winter, the volume of sales for each market
decreases. Additionally, the percentage decreases for hotels and ferries and
restaurants, due to the lower number of tourists at this time. He also mentioned that in
August especially, there will likely be a change in the volume of sales in supermarkets
in the cities and in rural areas. This is because people during August take vacations
and either produce their own in their house in the village or leave the cities and go to
the village, so more people buy food from rural supermarkets and less from urban
supermarkets at this time. While there may be more tourists in the cities at this time, it
is not enough to offset the number of people who have left the cities.

The percentage of sales geographically:
80% of total sales to Crete
48% to Heraklio
32% to rest of Crete
20% of total sales to Athens or the islands (depending on time of year)

He also mentioned that while there are a lot of farmers in the areas where tourism is
concentrated (other than the cities) often supermarkets and restaurant, etc, prefer to

purchase product from wholesalers because of the convenience of being able to
purchase everything they need all at once. So farmers often sell to wholesalers here

We had a short discussion about the nature of how food moves around the island.
Yiannis repeated a sentiment we heard earlier that about 1/3 of all food produced on
the island goes through the lachanagora. Another 1/3 or slightly more, is purchased at
the auctions or to packers (which means it will be sent off island) and the remaining
1/3 is direct sales to supermarkets, restaurants, etc and through laiki.

We now began more general discussions about the nature of the business. Questions
were asked as they came up.

Q) What changes have you seen in the amount of food coming from outside of the
island in the last decade.
Yiannis didn’t think the % of food coming from outside had changed really at
all, but for sure the volume of food moving through the lachanagora has decreased.
He said a decade or so ago, it was about 90% of all food produced in Crete went
through the lachanagora. He stated the following reasons for this decrease:
Increase of direct sales. Farmers now have their own trucks (pickup trucks, not closed
box trucks) so they don’t need someone to pickup their food anymore, they can
deliver it directly to their retailer.
there are more retail markets, farmers have more options to sell their food. More
supermarkets, mini-markets, etc, have opened so there are more outlets now.

Q) What do you think is the future of the lachanagora?
He thinks the quality of product will be increased [Interviewer’s note: didn’t
get reason why he thought this]
He thinks the lachanagora will eventually change to specialize in products that
are not produced on the island. He said more and more food that is produced on the
island is moved ‘on the black market’ or ‘without papers’. He also mentioned the
dangers of this for a few reasons:

There is legislation that states all food must pass through lachanagora, but
direct markets cut this step out, illegally. This way, farmers and retailers don’t have to
pay the tax on the purchase.
This also prevents the inspection step, which tests for pesticide residues and
limits the ability for trackback.

Related to the specialization of the market: He gave the example of potatoes and
fruits…Crete cannot meet the needs of potatoes in the winter, so many wholesalers
purchase imported products from Athens, form other wholesalers. Mentioned
stupidity of this, since many potatoes come from Egypt, which is closer to Crete than
Athens, but since there are few importers in the lachanagora, they have to purchase
from importers there.

He did mention that there is a preference for Greek product – when something is
imported, such as potatoes, it may be ‘baptized’ Greek so that it can sold with a price

He also mentioned that there is lack of division of labor: a wholesaler should be a
wholesaler, a packing house a packing house, a farmer a farmer. Instead farmers are
packing and grading without proper licensing, so even if their product is properly
packed, it cannot be accepted as such for wholesaling, with the 20-30 euro cent price
premium of a packed product. However, this does happen anyway.

He also echoed a situation with his personal business that they have diversified to
retail since they can’t make enough money with only the wholesale business.

Farmer Interviews
Heraklio Laiki
July 10, 2008

Interpreter: Agapi Vassiliou

Farmer: Adonis Sigelakis
Age: ~45
Yrs Farming: ~20

30 Stremma
9 greenhouse veg, 1 field veg
20 olives

Demographics of sales:
Sells all listed, focuses on vegetables produced in greenhouse, which is almost
everything he sells

Sells 20% of product to laiki and 80% to auctions in Timbaki.
[Interviewers note: the auctions in Tibaki are wholesale auctions or packing house
auctions. All of the product sold to these markets is taken off the island and sold
either in other areas of Greece or in northern Europe. I have heard estimates that the
production of vegetables here for winter product accounts for about 30% of the
vegetable product in all Greece. See FroutaNea note]

The volume of product sold in Timbaki is much greater than what he sells at the laiki,
but the auctions are very particular about size and appearance, so what isn’t graded
for sale at the auctions, he sells at laiki.

He attends laiki 4x per week. But there are many types of customers that purchase
from the laiki. [Interviewers note: I noticed an individual purchases 3 bags of
tomatoes while we were conducting the interview. I learned that he was a restaurant

owner. Additionally, I met another taverna owner who was shopping at laiki in
Chania, purchasing product for meals that evening to sell at her taverna.]

Profitable markets:
While he makes more money in Tibaki auctions, he said he likes the laiki because he
takes home a couple hundred each day, and it is cash. The auctions take up to 30
days to pay, so he wouldn’t have money if it weren’t for the laiki.

He said he makes money according to the basic law of supply and demand. When
there is low supply of something, he can charge more, he makes more money.

He hires two permanent employees and a few seasonal laborers form time to time. His
family also helps.

Comments on policies:
His first response was “this is a global problem, not specific to Crete”. In general,
policies don’t help the farmers. Specifically he mentions difficulties getting loans to
expand the business. Also, he talked about how there is a 19% tax on the cost of
inputs, but only a 9% charge they are legally allowed to put on the cost of food. So
they pay more tax to buy stuff for the business and are not allowed to charge the same
tax for the product they sell.

He hopes to be able to rent his land to another farmer. While his son is an agronomist,
he doesn’t seem interested in farming the land.

When asked about why he started farming, he said he thought it was the best thing he
could do. He wanted to be his own boss.

[Interviewers note: there seems to be a general trend among those who chose farming
and those who were born into it. Those who chose to farm really love it, they feel a lot
of pride in what they are doing. While this may also be true of those who were born

into farming, they seem to be a little more disenchanted with the state of thing.
However, all farmers seem to have many issues with the isolation they feel as

Farmer Interviews
Heraklio Laiki
July 9, 2008

Interpreter: Agapi Vassiliou

Farmer: Stavros Kodonakis
Age: ~late 30s - 40s
Yrs Farming: ~20 (has been farming organically for 2+ this season. Before that was
conventional farmer)

7.5 Stremma
(4.5 greenhouse, 3 field)
plus 10 stremma olives

Demographics of sales:
Of the items listed, he sells Cabbages, cucumbers (greenhouse), Eggplant
(greenhouse) lettuce, melons, onions, potatoes, tomatoes (greenhouse), watermelons,
peppers (greenhouse).

He mentioned that he tried to put in spinach, but the crop failed. Also, as a
conventional farmer, he used to plant beans and okra.

He sells products to laiki (M-F) and delivers to a pack house in Diavani. He
mentioned that what doesn’t get sold at the laiki goes to the pack house. He also sells
to a wholesaler what he harvests on Saturday because he doesn’t go laiki.

He mentioned that he is also an apiary.

Approximately 40% of his product goes to the processors/wholesalers (pack house,
etc) and 60% is sold to laiki

The laiki is located out of his village (in Heraklio), but the packers are within the
village (Messara area). However, pack houses sell the product off Crete…

He mentioned that he used to sell also to Greengrocers, but they complained about
quality (because the consumers were demanding that his organic product look the
same as conventional).

Profitable markets:
The laiki is his most profitable market. He sells everything at the laiki at higher prices
than to the processor/distributor.

[Interviewer’s note: Here he mentioned that at the special organic open market (which
is where we met him) all the farmers set the same prices for the product. At the
regular laiki, this is not the case. On the day we were there, about 9 farmers were
present and there were only 15 or so customers during the hour we were there.]

Himself and family.

Comments on policies:
“They don’t help”. He is having difficulty with the transition period…the certifiers
are dragging their feet and this he sees is a great difficulty. It erodes the trust with
farmers to take so long to do things.

He thinks the motivation for consumers to come to the laiki is the lower prices.
However, some growers at laiki are talking about the need to raise prices, but he
thinks this will erode consumer base at laiki.

He mentioned the need of the state to offer more help. The farmers need help with
marketing efforts…that the markets are not well known. He feels the prices for
[organic] product now is ok, but shouldn’t ever go too high compared to conventional.

He stated twice that he feels the marketing efforts are the problem, not the technical
aspect of farming.

He is hoping to rent to another farmer. Because the land is certified, he thinks it won’t
be a problem. Doesn’t think his kids will farm – one is a lawyer, the other a football

Since Stavros was an organic farmer, I asked what his motivation was for switching
production: He stated that he switched because of his own health – he wanted to move
away form chemical use. Also, he was encouraged by friends, family and the market
(distributors offered support for his conversion).

His personal goals are to sell as much product as possible through laiki and to
increase the variety he produces.

Farmer Interviews
Heraklio Laiki
July 9, 2008

Interpreter: Agapi Vassiliou

Farmer: Yiorgos Dimitriou
Age: ~33
Yrs Farming: ~9 yrs

11 Stremma veg
20 olives

Demographics of sales:
Sold everything listed except: artichoke, melons, potatoes and watermelons. He also
had corn and peppers at his stand while we were there

Only sells to laiki, in Heraklio. His farm is located in Sikologos. He sells to Laiki 3
times per week for 2/3rds of the year.

Profitable markets:


Comments on policies:
His first response was “this is the great social conversation”. He stated certification
has helped, because it is an obvious guarantee to people of a clean product. Though it
seems a little ridiculous [Interviewers note: unclear to what he was referring to].
Certification was expensive for him, although there is state support, he didn’t take it
(it would have lowered cost of label).

There is a lack of regulation on prices – for example, shops aren’t allowed to markup
product more than 30%, but there were doubling the price. There was no way this
could be regulated…there was no enforcement about this law.

The insurance payments from the gov’t are very low, and price support payments are
at the bottom.

He also mentioned that farming is discouraged from the family. “No parent wants his
child to be a farmer.” He stated that if the government wants to help farmers, they
need to put farmers in the center…give them validity.

He’s young, but hopes to pass the land on to someone to have it in farming.

When asked about how he saw the future of farming on the island, he said there is no
future. Selling the product is very difficult. Most organic farmers have another source
of income on which they rely.

His father was a policeman, so he is not from a farming family. He started on 1
stremma from his mother and has bought some of the land he farms and rents more.
When asked why he wanted to farm, he said he wanted to be his own boss. He is able
to lead a good life – he lives near the sea, eats his own product, and wanted to live
without drugs (meaning chemicals). He also believes he can earn a living through