“Here you can go a week without spending a single euro over here,” says a man who moved back to Crete two years ago to live in the village of his birth. “You get fresh food from your farm and if you need something extra, like olive oil for example, you can get it from a fellow farmer. You only need money to pay for your gas and bills,” he says.
He is not alone. For the first time in years, Amari Valley in the island’s Rethymno district has turned green again as fields have been cleared and put back to use as farms.
Recent data on farming in Greece show that the number of jobs in the sector has gone up by 38,000 between 2008 and 2010. This increase is in stark contrast to the grim statistics regarding rising unemployment across most other sectors.
However, a closer examination of the data shows that these born-again farmers are for the most part pensioners trying to make some extra money — particularly by cutting down on their cost of living. Between 22 and 32 percent of those who have taken up farming in the past couple of years are aged between 45 and 64 years old. Some 70 percent of the latecomers in the Epirus region in northern Greece are over 65.