Nestled among the olive trees, about a half hour (40 km) from the ancient city of Sparta, in Peloponnese Greece, a fertile and mountainous region, lies a treasure of experience in eating from the earth and natural living. Eumelia http://www.eumelia.com is a biodynamic farm and ecotourism site that exemplifies sustainable living at its best, while enjoying farm-to-table gourmet meals. Owned and hosted by Frangiskos Karelas and his wife Marilena, they provide the perfect setting for enjoying natural beauty, wholesome gastronomic pleasures, and activities that connect you to the earth and your place in its sustenance. Eumelia produces the rich and peppery organic extra virgin olive oil on its land that is the backbone of the healthy and delicious meals of the Mediterranean diet. A tour of the farm by Frangiskos reveals the interconnectedness of organic agrotourism sites such as these in the perpetuation of clean food and sustainable living.
FARM TO TABLE FOOD
Wake up to a breathtaking view of olive trees, wildflowers, and greens. You get to see, touch, taste, and feel the same olive trees that produce the organic olives and olive oil that adds anti-inflammatory health benefits and complex flavors to your homemade meals. Some of our party was vegetarian or had food restrictions, and the beauty of Mediterranean meals is that there are enough vegetables, alternative protein sources, and grains, to be able to cater to multiple tastes and dietary needs. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or on a low carbohydrate diet, the wholesome Mediterranean diet offers delicious options for you.
- Locally sourced sheep’s milk yogurt dressed with homemade granola with organic dried pomegranates
- Homemade oat bars
- Homemade fig, orange, and pricklypear marmalade and local honey for spreading on fresh baked rustic bread
- Omelet of eggs (free range, locally sourced) topped with wild asparagus picked from the farm, sprinkled with locally sourced sheep based feta cheese
- Spinach and wild greens pies from garden ingredients homemade by Marilena
- Other staples at the table include olives done 3 ways, garden beets covered in yogurt, fermented cauliflower, baby carrots from the garden, and a bottle of organic olive oil for drizzling more flavor and health benefits to any meal
- Choice of coffee, mountain tea, and fresh, squeeze-your-own orange juice
Lunch was served at the traditional Mediterranean time of around 2 pm, which leaves time for an afternoon siesta or walk through the wild flowers and trees afterwards, or for doing yoga in the middle of the green pasture. Some of the meals included:
- Dandelion greens blanched then doused in Eumelia organic olive oil, lemon juice, and a hint of sea salt
- Sausages infused with orange peel made on the farm from their free-range humanely raised pigs. During the tour, we visited their well-tended pig pen on the farm amidst the wild nettles. Their pigs had room to roam and were lovingly doused with water during the tour with respect for their part in the chain of life
- Fava bean pureed to perfection and dressed with sautéed onions for spreading on warm bread
- Warm rice medley with onions, leeks, garlic, cabbage, and a touch of dill
- Thick local potatoes roasted with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano
- Locally sourced sheep-based feta cheese drizzled with olive oil and poppy seeds
- Table staples included locally sourced sheep milk feta, and olives
Dinner was an evening social affair, with traditional wines and lively conversation served in the main hall, with open views of the olive trees and peaceful farm. Some of the meals included:
- Pasta with egg, mizithra with goat butter, olive oil, and rosemary. This was one of our groups’ unexpected favorites
- Chickpea soup with warm fresh bread
- Kale salad with beets, oranges, feta, and olive oil
- Yogurt tahini dip with Swiss chard stems (see recipe)
- Fresh from the garden shaved cabbage salad with apples and hints of vinegar and olive oil
In the spirit of the Mediterranean diet, lunch and dinner meals were paired expertly with locally sourced wines, produced from organic grapes as a beverage option. Wine maker and Eumelia farms intern Paul Kieran Hoogwerf shared his skill in wine tasting while we all contributed to the dialogue of food, wine, and life as part of Mediterranean Living at its social best.
Recipe courtesy of Marilena Karadimas
The cottages at Eumelia are literally a part of the landscape and are built with respect for the earth, and our part in it. The farm is powered by geothermal heating, is produced with earth-friendly sustainable materials, painted with natural minerals used in ancient Greece, and even boasts an integrated waste management system. Sleep soundly in a natural fiber mattress by coco mat, use their olive oil soap produced locally using organic olive oil from the farm, even towels and paper products are natural and sustainably produced.
ADVENTURES IN CONSCIOUS LIVING
The activities at Eumelia farm uncover the connection between farming and health by giving you an opportunity to be a part of your farm-to-table experience. Some of the seasonal things you can do at Eumelia farms include; harvesting olives to make olive oil in November, picking almonds or herbs right from nature, or even harvesting organic grapes, learning about the process of making wine. Eumelia farms host yoga retreats, cooking classes, bike tours, historical sight tours, and many other adventures in sustainable living and eating.
Other local activities include:
- The Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil in Sparta, Greece
- Picking herbs on Mount Parnon where Hippocrates, the father of medicine, recommended food be your medicine
- Biking tours
- Take a stroll downtown to the local cities of Laconia where good food and local favorites await. We visited the pastry shop in Gytheio called “Taste of chocolate”, or Αρωμα Σοκολατας in Greek, that has homemade ice-cream and delicious pastries made from scratch. Their vegan cookies made it difficult to just eat one
- Go to one of the famous beaches in Simos at Elafonisos or stroll the seaside towns
- Visit the Archaeological Museum of Sparta
For more information on the benefits of sustainable living and eating, you can check out this website: http://www.sustainabletable.org/943/why-buy-sustainable
If you enjoyed this article, read another Greek travel article written by Dr. Artemis Morris on the Greek island of Paros here!