Huffington Post on Anthea’s!
How four people decided to leave Athens and turn to agriculture in the island of Tzia! By Katerina Nanopoulou
Kalliopi, Nicholas, Othon and Veroushka had nothing to do with crops and came from completely different vocational backgrounds. So, a couple of years ago, they decided to join forces and venture into agriculture on a Cycladic island, Tzia. Anthea's products may have started from cultivating prickly pears, but they ended with a full range of Greek products, such as almonds, honey, sea salt, beeswax, lentils and many others.
When was Anthea's concept launched?
It was launched two years ago, although it has been in our minds for 3-4 years already. We used to feel the need to leave Athens. We all came from different fields and wanted to get away from the capital of Athens in order to get involved with wellness, namely to provide people with pure products; to make use of all the things that the Greek land still has to offer, since we have so many areas of crystal clear waters and fertile soil across the country. So, we started exploring things more and discovered a world of magic in Tzia.
Why did you choose Tzia for your crops?
We chose Tzia because it is a near-by island and its groundwaters are still clean. We have made our research and examined its soil and waters to make sure the island is free of heavy metals, spraying substances and chemical agents; we have been trying to find crops that would be beneficial to humans while at the same time opting also for Greek plants. We thought of many alternatives and we decided to go for prickly pears; it is a magical fruit, rich in vitamins and inorganic nutrients, and a nature’s medicine against type 2 diabetes, since it contains a certain pectin that prevents intestinal sugar absorption and thus helps insulin regulation. We became excited while reading that. Its essential oil features some amazing qualities. Since Tzia is an island for less water intensive crops to avoid groundwater drainage, we found that prickly pears were the ideal solution.
How did you come up with the rest of your products?
We kicked-off with prickly pears and then came the rest. The plots we chose happened to have some almond trees in them, in particular this old Greek variety bearing small almond nuts. We do not water, nor spray them. It is the rain that waters them, producing thus these extra small, aromatic almond nuts. Moreover, hills were filled with savory, oregano, thyme, sage; so, we have received accreditation for all herbs and next year we will be marketing herbs, however not in large quantities since we want to keep this natural production and not interfere with it. Development of apiaries was the natural next step. Tzia is a paradise for bees. No spraying takes place, no fertilizers are used and bees feed themselves with whatever grows on this Greek land. When we started producing honey for our own use, we were so impressed by the result and those great bee products, like royal jelly, propolis and pollen, and we started going deeper in that. We collaborated with very experienced beekeepers. Honey is a commodity threatened by extinction because apiaries, unfortunately, are getting less and honey gets adulterated and compromised in terms of quality.
What is Anthea's philosophy?
To return to our roots, to get back to our childhood tastes and scents and to promote Greek products and nature abroad. A large part of Anthea's has to do with promoting Greek nature and highlight it via blogs, recipes and suggestions on tourist destinations that foreign travelers may visit. We want to build the world of Anthea's that will help people get a taste and idea of Greece. We have many products by various small producers that respect the Greek land, we want to unite our forces and promote our products and country. We market sea salt from Kythera, hand-picked from rocky islets when, in summertime, the sea recedes. It is hand-cleaned and it is an absolutely pure commodity that smells like the sea itself. Our motto is “from earth to you”, namely the earth’s gifts to humans.
What was the source of inspiration for the brand Anthea's and its logo?
Anthea was one of the epithets of goddess Hera, used around the Aegean Sea and Crete, where she was worshipped as the goddess of fertility and prosperity. We chose that because it is easy for foreigners to remember and it carries this romantic allure associated with Hera and fertility. Then, we tried to find a logo to complement the brand name. We started with ancient depictions of gatherers; we came across a picture, in a Neolithic cave in Spain, making reference to something identical to beekeeping and featuring a woman while harvesting honey. This is the woman we tried to bring in our modern era and our logo represents the characteristic move a person makes when gathering fruits; in our case, this person is a woman!
Tell me a few things about your packaging concept
We wanted a kind of fabric that is odorless, organic and has no trace of composites. Just keep in mind that our packaging bags are hand-sewn by Tzia women in wintertime. The string used is waxed with beeswax. Each tag has a story from ancient Greece to tell; our boxes are all made of recyclable paper. Our labels are transparent, so that the product inside is visible to all.
How was it starting such a venture amidst crisis?
This is what puts most people off, since it takes a lot of perseverance to make it through red-tape and bureaucratic paperwork in Greece. We have lived some awkward incidents due to bureaucracy and lack of coordination. This is even more so given that we operate in one island and all documents have to be issued in another, Syros or Naxos. We realized that, apart from its mineral wealth, Greece has two things to market: its products and tourism, which are coupled abroad with agritourism. There many foreigners, for instance, who ask us whether we offer services in agritourism. This may be a really tough period, but it doesn’t mean that we can do nothing about it.
Where can one find your products?
80% of our original production went abroad. He have sent products to England, Switzerland, Spain, the US and we are in talks with people from Hong Kong. We are currently developing our e-shop, but one can also find us through our Facebook, page and in selected stores.
When it comes to foreigners, what is the product that most strikes them?
Honey! They really love it!
Thank you Huffington Post www.huffingtonpost.gr and Katerina for the beautiful interview and interest you showed in Anthea's! http://www.huffingtonpost.gr/2015/04/04/life-antheas-meli-tzia_n_6999986.html