The fog had just about covered everything. Having driven past the Corinth region’s mountain area, we reached Argolida, in the Peloponnese’s northeast. “Before you reach [the village] Limnes, turn right, carry on and you will see the village to your left. Turn right again once you reach the chapel and you will see us,” dairy farmer Giorgos Starfas noted, giving is directions to his farm.
Reaching Limnes, one of the country’s best-known villages of Arvanites – a bilingual population group in Greece of Albanian origin – we were slightly worried about the possibility of rain. But we swiftly brushed this concern aside, thinking that this is a way of life for people active in the primary sector, especially livestock farming, who are obliged to go about their outdoor work, with their animals, regardless of the weather conditions.
Mr. Starfas confirmed this thought as we discussed his line of work’s daily requirements and challenges, but he was also quick to point out the satisfaction gained by being out in nature with the elements and the unique gratification provided by his work’s sense of offering to others.
It was still early and the animals had not yet been left out to graze. Mr. Starfas and his wife, Katerina, welcomed us at the farm’s section where they milk their animals. We sat at a small table and observed the level of commitment they put into their work. “This is where we start each day with a quick coffee,” the farmed informed while telling us about the milking process. “The system we use spares the animals of any pain during milking and also ensures that our milk fully meets all health regulations,” Mr. Starfas continued.
Livestock farming family from the times of Ottoman rule
His family has deep livestock farming roots, all the way back to the times of Ottoman rule. “My great grandfather and grandfather both had animals and I was born and raised in a family for which animals were a main part of everyday life. We respect their importance, are very careful and responsible. Even now, my family – my wife and three daughters – knows what livestock farming is all about. We are all there, whenever needed, to ensure ideal conditions for the wellbeing of the animals,” Mr. Starfas stressed.
Meaningful collaboration with DELTA
The farmer, discussing his collaboration with dairy company DELTA, now 15 years long, for the “Delta of Our Land” goat’s milk brand, described the association as meaningful and declared he is glad to be continuing this association. “We have obligations, but, at the same time, also have demands that are fully covered. I am very glad that we are a part of a life chain bringing fresh, nutritious, goat’s milk to the consumer’s table,” Mr. Starfas noted.
Time to graze at the mountain
We proceeded outside, the goats seemingly unsettled when they saw us, but energetic. “They’ve realised that they’re going to be taken out to graze,” explained Mr. Starfas, who, along with his wife, performed all the necessary preparations before unleashing the animals out onto the mountain. “They will find kermes oak, a wild shrub, which is ideal food for goats, as well as a variety of other plants. We are a long way away from organised cultivation, meaning everything around here is pure and heathy. The grass and leaves to be eaten by the goats will be transformed into ‘Delta of Our Land’ milk, which will reach the refrigerators of consumers,” noted Mr. Starfas, while his wife was already out with the animals, headed towards the top of the hill.
They headed up with apparent ease. We tried to follow, which proved to be quite a challenge, and ended up turning back. Along the way back home, I thought about this daily lifestyle, so different to city living. Even so, these two contrasting worlds are linked by a magical thread as, every morning, when I swing open my fridge door to pour myself a glass of “Delta of Our Land” milk, my mind will return to those goats and the strength they need to climb those hills to find optimal food, transforming it into milk of the highest quality.