Leaving the City of Crisis for the Village of Figs: Marinos’ Story



Marinos_Tousert

Marinos Tousert is another young graduate who left Athens in the midst of the economic crisis and relocated to his village in order to get a job at his family’s fig business. These last years, Marinos has been living in a village called Taxiarchis on the island of Euboea, where he works in the production of figs.

Since ancient times, dried figs were considered the food of giants and heroes. It is common knowledge that the true lovers of figs, consume them throughout the year in dried form.

While visiting the village Taxiarchis in Northen Euboea, Greece one can see that the local economy is mostly supported by the production of figs. It is where one can find the small family industry of Ourania Mousetis that processes dried figs.

sikomaida-300x163Before we begin the journey into the delicious world of dried figs and the history of their production, it is worth saying a few words about the village Taxiarchis.

Firstly, the village was formed from the merging of the village “Agios Ioannis” that was inhabited by locals and the village “Moursali,” founded by refugees from Asia Minor. It is one of the most beautiful, clean and green villages of Euboea.

It should also be noted that the Archangel Michael is thought to be the patron of both the village and its inhabitants. The residents say that his spirit has performed many miracles for many faithful people in different occasions.

However, the village is also well-known for its production of very good quality fresh and dried figs, which are also exported.

Marinos Tousert, comes from a large family and has six brothers. He studied at the Gymnastics Academy of Athens, and has also attended many seminars and post-graduate programs on Sports Management, while also participating in professional football matches.

However, the economic crisis that hit Greece affected a very large percentage of the youth and brought on the unemployment issue, which in turn resulted to decentralization.

The thousands of young people leaving the cities in search of a better future in their villages, turn to agriculture bringing along their own ideas.

This is what happened with the case of Marinos. Seeing that the capital no longer offered professional opportunities, he decided to return to his village in Euboea, and work in his aunt’s fig industry, a family business.

When he was unemployed, his aunt Ourania asked him to work for her in the family business, she supported him as he says. Their cooperation is now excellent and the atmosphere is always very friendly and pleasant.

sokolatakia-sikou-218x300Ourania’s small industry is about seven years old. It is an industry based on the secret homemade traditional recipes of the local households.

This family business of local producers is well-organized, and oriented towards good quality. It has a great variety of products with an unprecedented range of guaranteed good flavors. Some of the products of the industry are: fig pie, honey made from figs, figs stuffed with nuts and flavored with anise and cinnamon, chocolate figs and so on… It is also worth mentioning that the above products are exported to countries like Germany, Slovenia, England and Italy.

When asked to say a few words about the cultivation of figs, Marinos answered, that this story took place in the blessed and fertile soil of Asia Minor.

“According to the stories my grandmother Chrysa used to tell us, we learned that the fig trees were big like sycamores and each fig tree produced 10 baskets in each picking. Camels knelt and took the precious cargo to the East, and from the port of Smyrna exported it to Europe.”

After the pogrom of 1922, the refugees turned back to cultivating figs. Although timid at first, they started planting the first fig gardens and after the success and absorption of figs to the market, thousands of acres of figs were being cultivated and flooded the market in Greece as well as abroad with figs from Taxiarchis.

Sikomelo-80x300Marinos adds: “Our grandmothers wouldn’t let any part of this fruit go to waste. The first figs were packed and sent to the markets, but each household would get some in order to make sweets and other delicacies. We will never forget the delicacies made of jam, molasses (that was kept in earthen pots), baked figs with nuts and sesame and the sweets made of nuts and figs.”

Today, all these products are being packaged in modern packaging to fulfill all the requirements of the ministries, in the traditional way without any use of preservatives and are widely accepted by the general public.

As it turns out, figs are not just a fruit favorite for many, but also a savior for the village of Taxiarchis and Marinos’ family in the midst of the economic crisis.


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