Friday, 26 September 2014

Ships, Clocks and Stars: Time is money

We all have favorite places, and I suppose I could honestly say that apart from the Wellington public library in my hometown (at least, in the way I remember it, as I am sure it has changed considerably since I last visited), my one other favorite place is Greenwich in London. (The Venetian port of Hania is a nice place, but it's not my favorite place. Favorite place in Hania? The balcony of our home.) My main interest in Greenwich lies in the concept of Time. Despite living in Greece for more than 2 decades, I still retain a New Zealand (and by extension British) concept of Time: Time involves precision and it is exact. Time gives me freedom: if I can finish my chores early, I will have more Time available to spend as I want. Therefore, Time is very important to me, and I don't like to waste it. Because I treat time like a precious possession, I often tell my family that I don't really care if they waste my money, because eventually I will earn some more, but if they waste my Time, I'll never get that back. You win money, you lose money, but with time, you only lose it.
National Maritime Musueum, Greenwich
This ship in a bottle by Yinka Shonibare was originally displayed on the 'fourth plinth' in  Trafalgar Square (which now has a blue rooster sitting on it) and is now on permanent display at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. I was fascinated by the textile designs of the sails due to my own interest in fabrics

When we first visited London as a family in 2006, the Royal Museums Greenwich complex had free admission to the Royal Observatory, and the Prime Meridian area was also free to visit. The Cutty Sark was undergoing renovations at the time (it would be the victim of a massive fire only a year later). One of the most interesting exhibitions at the time at Greenwich was a Time gallery featuring the search for precision in time-keeping while at sea. This consisted mainly of the history of John Harrison's clocks, devised especially for keeping time in the open sea, which were instrumental in allowing sailors to sail safely. This Time gallery had only recently opened, as I discovered from the website (this link is old, but I was surprised that it still worked, although some links on the page do not work; the link backs up what I thought might have happened at the museum since our fist visit), and I recall that photography was not allowed in the Time gallery. But I remembered a lot of things that I saw and heard there which made an impression on me - John Harrison's clock prototypes, the establishing Longitude while sailing in the ocean with no land in sight, and the stories concerning a monetary prize for the person who could solve the longitude problem at sea.

The Walkie Talkie (later known as the Walkie Scorchie or Fryscraper after parts of cars parked below it began melting), the Cheese Grater, and the Gherkin, as seen from Greenwich.

On last year's visit to Greenwich, at the request of my children, we visited the Planetarium at the Royal Observatory ('It's not as big as the Athens planetarium, Mum', my son informed us.) While we were there, I looked round for the Time gallery featuring  John Harrison's timepieces; alas, it did not seem to be where I remembered them. The Meridian Line area was now open only for fee-paying customers, which is also where Harrison's clocks were all hiding. We asked about ticket prices and were told we could 'upgrade' the tickets we had already paid for the Planetarium to include entrance to the Royal Observatory and the Prime Meridian courtyard. It was a very cold foggy day which dampened our interests in the courtyard. We decided to give it a miss.
London 2006

I am not surprised that this part of the Greenwich museum is no longer free. Admission charges were first introduced in 2011. It is a beautiful place to visit, and it has the perfect tourist traps to turn it into a money spinner. Even in 2006, despite the free entrance, we were still required to pick up a free paper ticket, and a guard was stationed at the entrance to take it. It proved to be such a popular visiting venue that it was inevitable it would eventually be spruced up and turned into a user-pays attraction. 
London 2006 (left) and 2014 (right)

Before going to London this year, I checked the Royal Museums Greenwich website for more information about John Harrison's timepieces. A link led me to embedded links for descriptions of various items that I thought I'd seen before. The site's homepage was also advertising an exhibition (with an admission fee) about the anniversary of the Longitude Act which offered the monetary prize that prompted John Harrison to make his clocks. Ships, Clocks and Stars sounded like an exhibition I was interested in. A review of the exhibition made it sound quite enticing. I decided to take the whole family to see it.
Prime Meridian 2006 (left) and 2014 (right) - the tree branch seems to have stayed the same shape!

A family ticket for the exhibition costs 22 pounds, which perhaps doesn't sound very expensive for London prices, but for Greek prices, where admission fee to the New Acropolis Museum is (still) a mere 5 euro per adult, it sounds quite high. This all rests on the way that the UK makes use of museums in its economy, by attaching value to obscure items, creating an air of importance to what may seem insignificant on first sight, and placing a value on history to make it have some kind of economic impact. (More information can be found on this topic here.) UK museums are run for a profit, using all sorts of ways to make money, from selling 'stuff', making visitors pay for any printed material including maps, using sponsors, asking for donations - virtually anything and everything is turned into a money-spinning attraction. Even a ground map of the museum area is no longer free (it costs €1 - last year, I picked one up for free).
Enticing people to part with their money - and to have some fun doing it.

All this is in complete contrast to the way the Greek state treats nearly all archaeological sites (which state-run museums are often attached to in Greece): Greeks, generally speaking, underrate their historical and archaeological wealth, and they do not capitalise on it in any significant way. A recent report suggests that apart from the New Acropolis Museum, Greece makes very little income out of ancient Greek sites compared with the European average museum site - €6 per head compared to the European average of €19. The Greek ticket pricing system rarely offers annual (membership), frequent visitor or pre-sold tickets, (which are more costly but guarantee the museum a higher income per head); the cost of entering less significant archaeological sites is often cheaper than the price of a cup of coffee at a cafe (as an example, the entrance fee to the much-talked about in recent times Amphipolis archaeological museum is a mere €2!) - and most Greeks would choose the latter, prompting the joke made by Greek comedian Katerina Vrana: if the Parthenon was turned into a taverna, more Greeks would visit it; there is little in the way of quality merchandise for sale in museums (where easy profits can be made); ancient sites are not promoted in any significant way (take for example the site of the original Olympic Games in Olympia - in any other country, it would be a world heritage park), and attempts to increase the significance of such sites have crashed when faced with bureaucracy.
London won the prize for Longitude 0º in 1884 - for 8.50 pounds, you to can get the chance to straddle the point where the eastern and western hemispheres meet, standing in just one place. 

In other words, there is immense wealth to capitalise on in Greece, which could be a huge source of income for the country, if handled correctly. The success of the tourism industry in a country should not be based on attracting a higher number of tourists every year: it's more about continuing to develop the tourist product at a faster rate, in order to maintain people's interest, and to keep them coming back, but not to see the same things all the time, they should be getting more - and nicer - surprises every time they visit. Take Greece's recent spectacular find at Amphipolis - and a great money-spinner for the future: Greece should set a plan in motion to capitalise on the Amphipolis finding and turn Amphipolis into a whole industry.
National Maritime Museum's Ships, Clocks and Stars exhibition
The introduction to the  Ships, Clocks and Stars exhibition involved a whole wall taken up by a moving sea - with a few words from the sponsors of the exhibition.

We entered a rather dark room at the entrance to the Ships, Clocks and Stars exhibition, where I noticed the big sign again saying no photography allowed, and we began exploring the exhibition. My kids can read and understand almost anything of their level in English, but I wanted to explain all the texts to my husband, whose English is based more on oral skills gleaned in the taxi business. So I started reading the texts... and this is where I had a deja vu experience. I realised that I had read all these texts before! Being an English language teacher, I read many texts on a wide variety of subjects, and I often remember what I have read from a previous reading experience. This is very important in my work where I read scientific thesis work on topics that I know very little about.
Perhaps the lighting adds mystique - I found it annoyingly dark, making reading difficult.

Now all these skills obviously didn't help me find the original John Harrison Time gallery when I was searching for it online ... because it wasn't there. It had been removed a short while after I had seen it, and put away for future use. So, the exhibits were there (Harrison's famous clocks were moved from where they are usually on display to the paying public), the texts were there too, and all that was needed was a repackaging! In bubble wrap, I presume...
For museums to retain a sense of importance in our own time period, which is based on instant information, interesting graphics, and simultaneous sound and moving images, they need to take a multimedia approach to telling us our history. This table uses film, text and sound in various ways to narrate historical events - gone are the days when museums contained artifacts that carried just a little description below them. 

The exhibition lighting was rather poor, and I found the whole experience too short to justify the cost (which would have been 8.50 pounds per adult, if we weren't buying a family ticket). I don't think I learnt anything new from it than I had learnt 6 years ago when I saw the same exhibition material packaged a different form, and all for free. The subject matter was generally 'dollied up' by graphic material, but the actual storyline remained the same. The Ships, Clocks and Stars was created to celebrate (and capitalise on) the anniversary of the 1714 Longitude Act. I don't think it was the most interesting exhibition I've been to before, and I did not build on that thrill of excitement that I sensed when I first saw/read/heard this material in 2006. I guess it didn't live up to my expectations.
John Harrison's sea clocks on display at the National Maritime Museum
John Harrison's timepieces - the most important one is in fact the smallest (on the right).

The entrance fee that we paid also gave us access to Flamsteed House, where there was an exhibition running called Longitude Punk'd. This exhibition was the hardest to explain to my Greek family: what do you tell people who are not acquainted with the English concept of art and literature as they intertwine with science fiction from a past time?! On view were weird spacesuits, and excerpts from strange poems, all of which sounded like science fiction, except that the exhibits referred to the 18th century, when people were still searching for longitude, even though the exhibits and stories were created in the 21st century. Not to mention the poem accompanying the exhibits about a commodore and kiwi birds that were trying to find Longitude... That particular part of the exhibition was lost on my family. It was confusing for them - the 'unrealness' of the contents of the exhibition were not adequately explained. Longitude Punk'd was a chance for creative artists to express themselves - but there are some types of art forms that can only be appreciated with appropriate education. I didn't want to confuse the family any more than need be, and more importantly, I didn't want the factual Longitude exhibition to be lost on them, so I told them not to pay too much attention to what they saw here. (Under normal circumstances, they would have seen John Harrison's time machines displayed here.)
According to The Rime of the Commodore in the Longitude Punk'd exhibition, the commodore was hoping to learn more about the SATori (a Zen Buddhism word meaning 'a sudden state of intuitive enlightment') NAVigational system from the kiwi birds which is now universally known as SAT NAV. (... A museum is perhaps not the best place for this kind of creative expression.)

Besides, we had other plans for the afternoon, which were also centred on Time. We wanted to go shopping, but we had to keep in mind that most of the 'regular' (as opposed to tourist-centred) stores in London are closed by 6pm. The eight-hour day is religiously observed in British culture, with just one day in the week being made available for late-night opening. This is in complete contrast to Greece where stores open until late at least three nights a week. Supermarkets open all day long in most countries, and in Greece, multinational clothes stores (eg Zara) are now also keeping their shops open all day long, but small shopkeepers take a break in the middle of the day and reopen in the late afternoon. There is no such thing as a split timetable in London. The cultural aspects of store-keeping differ among countries, but the way Time is viewed in a country is also an important element of stores' opening and closing times. Time defines how cities like London move. In Western societies, Time is money. Time is not freedom; money is freedom. Your Time is taken up by calculating the money you will make from your Time. You can see this in the way that everything in London is organised around train timetables. Even entertainment is scheduled to finish in time for the last train home. Many people would agree that the concept of Time in Greece is more fluid: exact appointment times are not really adhered to. Even TV programmes do not play according to what the TV schedule states. 3 o'clock is the same as 5 minutes past 3 in Greece. In Western countries, that would be an adequate reason to lodge a complaint with the TV channel or the train operators. It is only lately that Greeks are considering the concept of Time as something exact. Lateness has always caused annoyance among Greeks, but it was generally tolerated. This is slowly starting to change as Greece undergoes the greatest reform that ever took place in the country (and perhaps the world, by global standards).
Steampunk

Before we left the Royal Observatory area, we 'did' the Prime Meridian, where there was a huge queue of people waiting to have their photo taken along the line that supposedly marks Greenwich Mean Time. The whole experience felt rather touristy, compared with my previous visit in the same area, which took place in much colder weather, and there were no barriers round the Royal Observatory. I don't remember any queues for the Meridian Line, either, nor for the Cutty Sark, which is now surrounded by a very commercial section selling items associated with tea, not to mention the usual touristy souvenirs at exaggerated prices.
Above: Tea being sold at the Cutty Sark, a ship that celebrates the great British institution of tea drinking. The ship was in the midst of being restored when a fire destroyed a number of parts. It now bears no resemblance to what I saw of the ship's exterior in 2006. The area around the phantasmagorically renovated ship was turned into a souvenir shop. The entrance fee sounds ludicrously expensive.
  

London is now a heavily marketed city, in all spheres; you spend your time according to your pocket, and a splendid time is guaranteed for all. There is something in it for everyone, as long as you can afford your choices. 'What's On' brochures line the information desk at the entrance to the main Greenwich museum area detailing all sorts of activities, all carrying a wide variety of fees, to suit everyone's pockets. You can:
"Take a special trip through The Art & Science of Exploration, 1768-80 exhibition, followed by a reflective meditative journey" (13 pounds per person). 
If you prefer something more academic, you can attend:
"A day of talks, informal group discussions and gallery tours, exploring the relationship between science and empire" (30 pounds per person). 
There is also something available in the after-work hours for the plebs, and at a much cheaper price:

"Delve into the re-imagined world of Georgian London, and try your hand at life-size parlour games, quench your thirst with Georgian gin and tonic, and design your own wig" (5 pounds per person)

The Great Map on the first floor of the National Maritime Museum - The Mediterranean Sea hides so many treasures on its seabed, and been fed by so much human blood over the centuries.

If you don't feel like spending any money at all, you can browse through the many free galleries of the museum complex, taking a rest on the bench in front of the Great Map (but not at the back of it, because that area is reserved for the cafe patrons), admiring the magnitude of the world we live in. I imagine young children wouldn't get too bored too quickly - they could easily spend two hours in the same spot, before they get very tired. In this way, you could take them to visit the general area many times. If the weather is good, you don't need to spend any money at all (apart from travel expenses) - Greenwich Park is huge, it has many tracks for avid walkers/runners/bikers, and from the top of the hill where the Royal Observatory is located, the views of London are magnificent.

Mardi gras atmosphere at the Tall Ships Festival

We also happened to be visiting the area during a Tall Ships Festival, which created a mardi gras atmosphere in the lawn areas outside the main museum buildings. There were bands playing, and a mast-climbing frame for anyone who wanted to see what it felt like to be a sailor, or perhaps a pirate (the kids tried it). There were also stalls selling branded sandwiches and drinks. We had bought our own sandwiches, complementing them with drink from the museum's cafe , where there is an indoor picnic area, for those (like us) who had bought a packed lunch. If I were to recall the greatest moment during this year's visit to Greenwich, I'd say it was being outdoors and enjoying the London sunshine, enjoying the views of London's changing skyline from the Royal Observatory, which seems to become more and more obscured with concrete and glass as the years go by, and sitting at the water's edge watching the river traffic on the Thames.
Lunch at Greenwich 

London was quite a different city in March 2006 when we first visited, compared to what it is now: in the previous year, London had been chosen as the city that would host the Olympic Games in 2012; this news was followed the next day by the London underground attacks by suicide bombers. It continues to evolve, but the rate of development seems to be in line with making the city an expensive place, both to visit and to live. If it weren't for our London friends, this trip would not even have been possible. And through our friends, we get a glimpse into London's suburban life. (More on that in another post.)

Both the Ships, Clocks and Stars and Longitude Punk'd exhibitions run until the 4th of January, 2015, at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.  The above photos are my own, except the ones of the exhibition, which come from The Guardian. For much more enlightenment on the subject of finding Longitude and the life and work of John Harrison, look up Dava Sobel's Longitude (it's available online). A film based on her work was made into a TV mini-series (you can also watch that online too). The book and film are quite different, and both are worth getting hold of.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Greek Collection: A history lesson

The project is well underway: come and join me at The Greek Collection.

My aunt came to my house recently so we could have a Skype session with my mother's side of the family, connecting Hania, Athens, London and Wellington all on one screen. At the end of the excitement, as we left my computer space, I noticed my aunt looking intently at my computer chair.


"I recognise that from somewhere," she said, picking up a patchwork mat that I have placed on the chair to keep it clean.

Detail of the chair mat

"You made it, Thia," I said. Or at least, that's what my mother used to tell me. The chair mat was used in our New Zealand home as a table mat for a large chest of drawers. Although it is now not in very good condition, I still keep it for sentimental purposes. In some parts, it is very tattered.  

"No, your grandmother made it," she corrected me. "I think I remember her sewing it." We inspected the chair mat more carefully, and discussed the fabrics on it. She can't remember where they came from. They all have that vintage look which sells like hotcakes on the likes of etsy and ebay. Looking around my living room, she peered at the foot stool.


"You mother made that," she said, pointing to the fabric I had sewed on top of the dust cover I had made for the foot stool. The original dust cover was made with a floral fabric remnant with the words "House and Home Fabrics and Draperies Inc.", dated 1986, running around the selvage. I'd bought it in Athens sometime in 1992 from a warehouse fabric store across from my first job. The fabric eventually suffered wear and tear where it was used most of all - the top. So I covered the large hole that had formed with my mother's loom-made fabric. Despite the heavy use made of that stool, it shows no sign of tearing (it's been in use for at least 6-7 years already).


Raising her eyes from the foot stool to the large table next to it, my aunt recognised another piece of fabric. "Your mother made that tablecloth too, She wove cloth on the loom, in long narrow strips, and sewed them together by hand to the size that she wanted. Then she made the δεσιές (macrame-type ties) by hand. I was the only one of the three girls who didn't make δεσιές. I just didn't get round to learning how to do it. By that time, we had moved away from the mountain, and had come to live close to the sea, and this all seemed unnecessary at the time, as we did other things, and we could buy the same products for less effort." 

Indeed, all these skills, the time spent on making the items and the items themselves seemed like a waste, even for my mother: she had never used any of her hand-woven items, leaving them in the μπαούλο her mother had bought for her, to store her dowry items. On leaving for New Zealand, my mother never saw them again.  

I then brought out some other fabrics that belonged in my mother's baoulo, hoping Thia could give me a bit of background to them from what she remembers of our family's history. "Kitchen towels," she said, as soon as she saw the familiar patterns of the darker woven material (see above). "You could still use these, you know, all they need is a hem. And the white fabric with the δεσιές were body towels, but we wouldn't use them now..." Her voice trailed off with a tone of regret, as if she remembered the times when she did in fact use them as body towels, remembering laundry days, after which she had to untangle and comb out the  δεσιές, something I've done too, and know how much trouble it is.

Detail of a body towel made by my mother. Yellow age stains are visible on the cloth. The whole cloth was hand-woven on the loom, including the decorative parts. The ties on the edging are also hand-made. This particular towel has been turned into the lining of one of my hand-made bags.

"But I still use them in other ways. I use them now as furniture coverings, and they look very pretty."

"And what about these, Thia?" I took her to the bathroom where I have some bundles of cream fabric ready to be dyed because the material contains a lot of dirty-looking brown age stains that are difficult to remove. Once the fabrics are dyed a dark colour (I am sticking to blue at the moment), the stains vanish.


Some of my first designs in The Greek Collection, made with the bought fabric (ie my mother did not weave it herself - it was made in Greece on an industrial loom: more information here). The brown age stains are visible. The tiny dark brown spots are the husks from the cotton plant. Both the husks and the stains become invisible when the fabric is dyed; the blue fabric below is the same white fabric above. The checked fabric below is also hand-woven on a loom by my mother  - more kitchen towel fabric.

"Oh, your mother didn't make this fabric on the loom," she said, fingering the fabric. "It's too heavy, you can see that yourself." She beckoned me to touch the fabric. "This is what we used to call καποτέ". I have since understood that this is the pronunciation that my family must have used for the Greek word κάποτο or κάμποτο, which means 'calico cotton'.

Detail of embroidered runner edge. The tacking is still in place

The fabric was bought in narrow lengths, which were cut and sewn by hand to the required size (the above piece in the photograph had three hand-sewn seams in the main body), to make bed coverings, namely decorative sheets. More fabric was hand-sewn around the sheet as a border, which was eventually embroidered - again all by hand.


I showed my aunt what I was doing with the fabrics, and she seemed quite excited with the idea of my reinventing uses for 'unuseable' things. She told me many stories on that day, and hopefully I'll remember them when I write the next installment of The Greek Collection

(To be continued.)

Bonus photo: My bathroom tidy, unwittingly made with my mother's hand-woven fabric (the white background fabric). The ribbons conceal old baptismal 'witness pins' known as μαρτυρικά (scroll down this link for FAQ on witness pins).

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©All Rights Reserved/Maria Verivaki/The Greek Collection/Organically Cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Competence skills required in sustainable agriculture

We're not really as independent as we think or would like to believe that we are - we are now interconnected, and will always be dependent on each other.

To throw a spanner in the works, we rarely hear about how Scotland's food supply will be affected by the vote, do we? It's taken for granted, I suppose, that highly developed countries do not produce much of the food they need to feed their nation. It's not considered important to sustain their politico-economic survival; they happily import most of their food needs and take it for granted that these imports will always be plentiful.

Such countries also take into serious consideration food rules and regulations, and are very bookish, being highly knowledgeable about a wide range of topics without actually having direct experience of the topic in question, perhaps due to weather and landscape.

 As an English teacher in an academic environment, my job involves reading and translating a lot of scientific texts. I have been working on a translation (into Greek) of a report concerning what is seen as desirable skills to be taught in training programmes for sustainable organic farming courses, as suggested by questionnaire respondents from Greece, Spain, Hungary, Croatia, France, Italy and Austria. Based on my work, I present a (rather long) list of questions about sustainable farming, and how likely it is that your country can succeed in providing its citizens with food produced in your own country. It is based on the knowledge acquired over time by individuals, in order to maintain a sustainable farming business.

CAN YOU/DO YOU:
- understand the differences between conventional, integrated and organic farming in terms of inputs and farming techniques?
- understand the impacts of conventional farming practices on resources-vulnerability and irreversibility?
- understand the ecological basis underlying the dynamics of agriculture?
- understand the environmental complex-the behavior of the plant Is aware of the basic farming work skills?
- understand the interactions between several agro-systems in the scale of a territory?
- understand the importance and impact of the agro-ecology in the micro and macro environment?
- understand the connection of the agro-ecology with the market (better communication with the market)?
- design and apply management plans taking into account the ecological components and functions in various agro-ecosystems?
- communicate with farmers?
- understand the impacts of conventional farming practices on resources-analysis of the impact of agricultural management?
- understand the ecological basis underlying the dynamics of agro-understanding of the components and ecological functions in agro-ecosystems?
- understand the environmental complex, the sum of interactions acting on a growing personal and collective farm?
- apply ecological components and functions in different agro-ecosystems?
- use basic farming work skills?
- solve simple problems in the area of environmental protection and agricultural production
- link economic, social and environmental fields
- understand the technical basis of the agro-ecological transition, its conceptual design and technical and economic changes in the farm?
- know the Legislations and Regulations for the transition to organic farming?
- have a command of/be fully conversant with the relevant OA legislation & its application to certification standards to farming?
- have an awareness of the importance, methods and certification of organic production?
- Is familiar with the management and maintenance of quality?
- have knowledge of the basics of social psychology on the theme of resistance to changes (since Lewin, 1950’s)?
- understand the agro-ecological transition of planned changes for converting a conventional farm into an organic farm?
- know and understand Legislation and Regulations for the transition to organic farming?
- translate regulation requirements into changes of agriculture practices?
- master technical developments and measure economic impacts?
- find information and communicate via the internet ?
- understand the importance of the interaction between populations (biodiversity, functional diversity, ecological diversity) during farming production?
- manage biodiversity conservation and productive purposes?
- understand the role of agrobiodiversity in farmscape planning, plant protection, soil fertility and weed management?
- know the rules and expectations of seed-production, storage, processing, and preparation?
- understand the capabilities for raising maximum yield through a proper production plan, plant selection and protection?
- understand biodiversity, functional diversity, ecological diversity-is able to manage them effectively during farming?
- recognize the impact of certain plant cultivation activities on the environment and their acceptability in terms of biodiversity conservation?
- produce seeds?
- think the food autonomy for cattle in a farm scale, using density of animals and available surface areas?
- plan agricultural production with reduced harmful impact on biodiversity?
- understand the soil as a living medium - is aware soil components affecting soil quality and fertility and the importance of their ontogeny ?
- understand the dynamics of organic matter in the soil ?
- understand the role of organic matter in the soil and the importance of the living environment as a dynamic?
- control pests and diseases of edaphic origin?
- understand the role of the soil alive in the control of diseases and health of plant?
- understand the agronomic and pedodogic functioning of a soil?
- understand the mechanisms of maintaining and increasing soil fertility through litter and green manure crops?
- understand the importance of conducting soil analyses?
- understand the differences in the inputs for soil nutrition in different farming systems?
- know the differences between fertilizers and amendments, schedules for the inputs in response to crop needs, has mastered the mechanics of analysis of nitrogen balance, to manage correct fertilization?
- know the main green manures, their mode of culture, schedules for destroying them, principles of degradation (restitution of nitrogen into the soil)?
- produce production site analyses?
- maintain the organic matter and soil fertility high using OA accepted techniques?
- understand the soil as a living medium - Is able to identify the functionality of the data in relation to the production dynamics?
- understand the dynamics of organic matter in the soil?
- make decisions to improve soil quality and fertility, through self-fertilization and according to the law of the OA?
- control pests and diseases of edaphic origin?
- identify those components of biodiversity most important for management and control?
- know how to observe and analyze the soil functioning (using simple tools like auger, spade, to achieve profile analysis for crop diagnosis)?
- identify beneficial microorganisms in the soil and their importance in improving soil quality and fertility?
- make proper choice, use proper method and time of pesticide application ?
- make nutrient management plans individually, and include them into systems by cultures and by technologies, taking into account crop ?
- know the effects of production process (quality, application)?
- have a strong understanding of the N cycle and how this connects to N availability for plant roots?
- understand the parameters that affect a process?
- understand the different fertilization technologies, and include them into the possible technologies?
- understand the importance of organic matter for various crops?
- have some familiarity with the possibilities of the production and / or supply of compost?
- Is aware of decomposition process and application methods?
- understand composting competence?
- produce and apply compost/ green manure?
- understand the quality and maturity of compost?
-  understand and interpret analytical techniques and in situ techniques used to evaluate parameters related to the quality and maturity of compost?
- manage the composting process and to limit losses from wind and leaching?
- select the proper form of organic fertilizer for certain types of soil?
- determine quantities of organic fertilizers that are brought into agricultural area to minimize the contamination of surface and groundwater, and maximize nutritient availability ?
- organize collective actions?
- understand crop rotation and association?
- know the specifics of vegetables grown?
- understand cover crops and mulching?
- know how to apply different culture techniques as cover crops, intercropping, mulching?
- understand plant infrastructure?
- understand the role of auxiliary vegetation ?
- update your knowledge in organic and biodynamic agriculture?
- know insect-attracting plants ?
- connect organic farming techniques with their effect on agrobiodiversity, plant nutrition and crop protection?
- design appropriate rotation schemes and partnership?
- apply different culture techniques such as cover crops, intercropping, mulching?
- understand plant infrastructure?
-  choose and design hedges, borders, vegetable islands to diversify and protect crops?
- have knowledge of important  weeds and soil diseases?
- apply different ecological preparations for plant protection against diseases, pests and weeds?
- apply various technical interventions in agriculture, without adversely affecting the structure and quality of the soil (reduction of required actions in tillage )?
- use properly machines of cultivation?
- integrate technical exchange networks?
- use insectary plants ?
- understand the ecological management of greenhouses?
- have knowledge of different ecological cultures?
- know the principles of crop growth without soil on inert materials?
- know the specifics of growing plants indoors?
- understand specific features and risks of production in greenhouses?
- understand the different sprouting technologies and equipment?
- understand the closed sprouting system’s barriers, peculiarities, its special plant protection and maintenance?
- understand the proper techniques of non-degradable waste management and disposal of materials?
- understand energy issues (direct consumption and indirects energy costs, life cycle analyze,…) of equipment such as “greenhouses” and “shelters”?
- understand instalation and maintenance of plastic equipment and microclimate conditions?
- understand special problems of plant protection from diseases and pests in greenhouse conditions?
- understand the specifics of greenhouse production?
- have previous experience on greenhouse production?
- act in order to combat pests and diseases in greenhouses?
- understand the ecological management of greenhouses?
- schedule an annual crop rotation, maintaining soil fertility and control pests and diseases according to regulations?
- use different beneficial insects to combat major crop pests?
- master  techniques of organic control in greenhouses (crop auxiliaries etc) and of fertilization ?
- have knowledge of soil diseases and crop turnover?
- insert intermediate crops or green manures between or during crops, to promote soil biological activity through the presence of plants and living roots?
- master technical and economic constraints in greenhouse production ?
- apply ecological principles in  greenhouse conditions?
- produce vegetables indoors (sowing, optimal processing time and picking)?
- manage methods of biological control?
- use the proper techniques of non-degradable waste management and disposal of materials?
- understand basic features of the nutritional ecology of biological control agents?
- have knowledge of species of biological control agents available in the market ?
- have knowledge of conservation, biological control and ecological engineering methods used in open field crops ?
- know the theoretical foundations of ecology applied to plant pathology?
- understand the theoretical concepts that relate to soil-living nutrition and resistance to pests and diseases?
- understand the environmental risks of synthetic inputs and differential substances permitted in organic farming?
- know the importance of the role of weeds in agro-ecosystems and the theoretical foundations that allow the recognition of the most important species and their growth cycle?
- consider pests and diseases as regulators of  agro-system imbalances, and accordingly to use early preventive control and to strengthen the immunity systems of plants?
- understand the possibilities of purchasing ecological resources, and oftheir synergy?
- have knowledge of ecological preparations to protect plants from weeds, pests and diseases?
- have knowledge of the availability of the list of approved substances?
- have knowledge of the different possibilities for controlling harmful organisms in crop production?
- have knowledge of the permitted preparations/combinations in organic farming?
- understand their limited applicabilities and impacts?
- have knowledge of important local weed species and their growth and development?
- understand alternative techniques of plant protection, compatible with organic farming?
- identify pests and key species of biological control agents?
- make decisions regarding the management of prevention techniques and control according to regulations?
- have knowledge of trophobiosis as a unifying concept in agroecology?
- use the substances permitted in organic farming?
- master pests and auxiliaries' life cycles in order to promote biological control?
- make environmental protection agents?
- prepare pesticides from farm materials ("compost brew") or from plants from environment ("nettle brew", Equisetum extracts, Tanacetum cinerariifolium extracts etc.)?
- choose environmentally most acceptable methods of plant protection? 
- prepare an independent protection plan?
- recognise pest herbivores, illnesses, and disorders (visible symptoms caused by missing microelements)?
- apply the appropriate techniques to control weeds?
- master design approaches for innovative cropping systems?
- support the farmer in his agronomical technical reasoning?
- have knowledge of postharvest handling and packaging of fresh and processed products-knows what are the conditions to be met by a commodity and what are the factors of shelf life?
- have knowledge of regulations affecting the development of an ecological food-knows the rules governing the sector in postharvest ?
- understand storage principles and protection during storage of organic raw materials and products?
- have knowledge of methods of determining the period of harvest / picking, determine the physiological and technical maturity with chemical and organoleptic path?
- implement postharvest rules at the producer level or enterprise level?
- adapt to the rules governing the sector in postharvest?
- select the method of keeping the product with regard to its ultimate purpose?
- plan and execute harvesting, processing, transportationactivites and related operations?
- know the dynamics of the water cycle, biosphere level of the edafosphere and water balance in the plant?
- have knowledge of the theoretical basis from agroecology to facilitate water management in agricultural systems?
- have knowledge of the methods with the environment to ensure product quality?
- have knowledge of the quality of used water?
- understand  the advantages of irrigation?
- have knowledge of the importance of preventing pollution of watercourses and groundwater?
- have knowledge of methods to manipulate the environment to ensure product quality maintenance?
- have knowledge of the methods with the environment to ensure product quality maintenance?
- know how to apply dosages based on culture and stage of growth?
- understand  ecological principles in moisture conservation?
- have knowledge of irrigation methods?
- understands agro-climatic issues linked to global warming?
- understand irrigation methods which assure environmentally sound water management?
- advise farmers on optimum use of irrigation water/is able to provide/ take water samples for analysis?
- analyze water data and present it as a basis for decisions?
- extrapolate knowledge of water systems (the dynamics of the water cycle etc) to the design of crop and soil management?
- use techniques of soil management, planting, seeding and crop diversification to conserve water and can optimize irrigation?
- manage water: inputs (saving systems), limiting losses through evapotranspiration (mulch and organic mulch), surplus management (drainage, shaping boards cultures), associations of beneficial cultures, to create microclimates (agroforestry)?
- plan the installation and use of irrigation systems?
- plan the required capacity of the irrigation system and related costs of installation and usage?
- create and manage water-saving irrigation?
- calculate optimal water consumption and analyze profitability?
- apply an irrigation program ?
- master techniques for water management?
- master irrigation systems?
- have a developed consciousness of the usefulness of irrigation in agricultural production?
- implement irrigation system on agricultural land?
- prepare independently the farm’s water management and irrigation plan?
- meet the water needs and control the dose to be applied depending on the growth stage of the crop?
- know the basic characteristics of the water used for irrigation?
- know the consequences of tillage and their behavior depending on the type of soil?
- explore the features of machinery for planting, application of manure and compost, forage, and crop cultivation?
- have knowledge of proper handling of tools and machinery on a farm?
- understand tillage?
- comply with hygiene rules and food safety regulations ?
- know the machines which are specially created for Organic Agriculture ?
- stay safe at the work according to national legislation by having attended relevant training?
- master the appropriate equipment for mechanical weeding?
- master spraying equipment to ensure proper application of bio pesticides?
- know how to properly maintain machinery?
- understand the advantages and application of  the planned preventive maintenance system?
- understand energetic issues (direct consumption and indirect energy costs, life cycle analysis) linked to agricultural equipment?
- know collective approaches for using agricultural equipment : group property, farmers groups, support societies?
- understand environmental impact of agricultural machinery use?
- have the appropriate handling certificates and is able to handle the machinery safely ?
- understand soil management with minimum tillage and no-till?
- fix the use of specific tools, at the right floor-and-tempering time for cultivation?
- prepare and execute machine handling and control instructions?
- drive tractors and garden tractors with implements?
- perform maintenance of the facilities?
- select and use appropriate equipment for each job, in order to maintain and enhance biodiversity, particularly in soil?
- safely and properly use machinery?
- provide proper first aid?
- know the rules regarding the labeling of organic products?
- understand the packaging industry at the national level and in exports?
- know the main functions of packaging in fresh and processed foods and the different characteristics of each?
- have knowledge of the legal regulations of processing and labeling of organic products? 
- have knowledge of the importance of proper harvest time depending on the purpose of the product?
- have knowledge of the principles of organic products preservation, drying techniques and preserving ecological products?
- have knowledge of the list of approved substances and ways of processing?
- understand the role of packaging as selling tool?
- have knowledge of and  introduce  and maintain a complex HACCP system?
- understand the basic semi-finished and finished product production technologies?
- have knowledge of the best professional practices, standards and specifications of packaging and stripping/wrecking?
- understand energetic issues (direct consumption and indirects energy costs, life cycle analysis) linked with packaging?
- understand the process for proper selection of packaging (reusable, bio degradable material)?
- understand processing and packaging technology?
- know the basics of environmental labeling?
- differentiate the peculiarities of the labeling of fresh produce and processed product?
- have knowledge of the packaging industry at a national level and for export?
- apply this knowledge (main functions of packaging etc) to decision making in business?
- process products respecting sanitary regulations?
- handle machinery
- use methods of analysis of food hygiene to map the organic quality in farming food processing
- understand marketing channels in the eco-sector
- know how to differentiate the characteristics of the ecological food chain and all possible forms of marketing and distribution sector
- understand short channels and markets nearby
- understand the characteristics and potential of this type of marketing
- know the importance of online market and social media
- understand the importance of innovative marketing
- differentiate the characteristics of the ecological food chain and all possible forms of marketing and distribution sector
- design strategies to optimize this type of distribution with small farmers and small markets or consumer groups
- work at the enterprise level in the positioning and dynamics of eco responsible products
- know the marketing channels
- design labels and packaging of eco products in order to attract customers
- make market research and recognize optimal business oportunity
- master marketing techniques
- raise awareness about sustainable agriculture among employees and the environment
- raise awareness of the consumer about the benefits of ecological products on health and the environment
- know the importance of the tourism sector in the rural economy
- understand farm and / or ecotourism
- understand the differences between agro-tourism and green tourism
- know the basics of tourism 
- understand ways of selling tourism offers
- understand the regulations and limitations regarding agrotourism (village tourism)
- be sensitive to different cultures
- communicate and transfer the culture of an area
- understand green tourism
- introduce the environmental factor within the tourism sector
- understand farm and / or ecotourism
- link concepts and requirements for greater economic diversification in rural and local areas
- quantify its project to assess its profitability
- create good communication channels in marketing promotion 
- discover / plan new facilities to attract visitors
- create their own agrotourist household (on the base of possessed agricultural farm)
- find product niches to get a better price (additional income, …), combination of offerings   
- master the standards required for hosting disabled people
- find advice for dealing with tourism
- make a business plan (a form of agricultural tourism, finance, market demands, marketing, resources, etc.)
- integrate agrotourism into the course of business of the farm
- deal with agrotouristic activity (i.e. to plan activity, to lead marketing, to organize the stay of guests in the household, to manage finance aspects of the activity)
- have mastery of organic agriculture communication in order to respect competition rules?
- know how to support decision making by a farmer in a context of uncertainty?
- know the basics of a Firm's Social Responsibility approach?
- have mastery of the techniques of active listening (identifying customer needs through an open questionnaire)?
- identify the difference between needs and the expectations of a farmer?
- have mastery of at least one foreign language?
- evaluate the overall performance of a technical proposal (environmental, social and economic impacts, stakeholders identification)?
- link a technical proposal and farmer 's strategic directions?
- master the stakeholders' identification in an organic farming project?
- support farmers' groups (at least, to organize meetings)?
- have some level of mastery of ICT tools?


If you answered YES to a good deal of the above questions, then you probably have the right skills to be an organic farmer and manage a sustainable farm competently. You are also most likely to be a good listener, and a good decision maker, and will be able to survive a bout of bad luck (eg finance or climate oriented) to a great degree. Such skills are what is keeping Greece afloat at the moment: while most developed countries disregard their food supply as playing a great role in their economy, and importing most of their food needs, Greece produces a great deal of fresh food that is used in its raw state by Greek citizens, as well as being exported. What's more, Greek food is considered very highly among the global community.

Make what you wish of the competences stated above. They are based on skills, competences and knowledge which are believed to be inherited informally and non-formally from one farming family member to another, especially through experience, and which are slowly being lost over time as people gradually move away from farming as a career/main job, hence the need to formalise such training in recognised courses for would-be farmers.

Some skills cannot be taught just from a book, while others need a substantial period of time to be understood to the point that a person can practice them. Farming depends on hands-on experience. Once such skills are debased, then the big-business agro-industry rightfully must become a standard feature of our lives.

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