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or what on earth a bus full of tourists is doing in the middle of the fields!

The story goes like this:

Travel Agency Green Greece Go, member of ATOI (Agricultural Tour Operators International) is searching for new agrotourism destinations for tourists that have already visited Greece. The sharp-witted owner of the aegncy, having visited frequently Delphi and Galaxidi that are situated in the area, did a web search on agrotourism in the region of Copaida and more specifically in Orchomenos.

That is how he reached Orchomenos´ Cooperative´s website which got him excited on the Cooperative´s achievements in certified cotton. Thus, he contacted the Cooperative´s president in order to organize a visit of two groups of forty people on the 25th of May and 8th of June respectively.

At the end of May, the first bus arrived and the tour in the fields got started, led by the Cooperative´s President Vasilis Tsagalas along with the aid of an interpreter. The French farmers learned about cotton´s life cycle and its particularities. Questions arose not only in relation to agriculture per se, but also on geopolitical issues, such as the amount of subsidies received for equivalent crops by farmers in France in comparison to Greece and the way agricultural cooperatives operate in the two countries.

Next, we visited MICHA’s Ginning Plant where one of the company´s owners explained in detail all the ginning stages that cotton goes through. He underlined the Cooperative’s effort to produce more quality cotton and the benefits of the processed product and its advantageous position in the market.

Lunch time kicked off. A tavern at “Heroes´” Square in Orchomenos offered a menu of purely Greek (but not tourist) dishes that pleased the visitors and filled them with energy for the forthcoming sightseeing.

The visit to King Minya´s vaulted tomb, the ancient theatre and the Byzantine Church of Panayia composed the archaeological and historical part of the excursion.

Afterwards the visitors headed to “the three Graces´ springs” and more specifically to Petros´ Dimos´ trout fish-farm. The producer himself talked about the stages and the particularities of trout breeding. Delicious smoked trout was served, accompanied by homemade “tsipouro”.

The excursion reached its end with visitors and hosts pleased and delighted out of the exchange and the experience.

Nowadays, Orchomenos is far from being a touristic destination despite its significant archaeological sites. “Diazoma” Association actions aim to unify those sites in order to create a touristically attractive historical park in the near future.

As far as agrotourism is concerned, the Agricultural Cooperative of Orchomenos, is the institution to bring out the rural wealth of the region and make it an attractive destination. The beginning took place already. We are all working hard for what is next to come…

  • A group of French farmers from Brittany region repeated the same excursion in the first week of June. The photos are from both groups.
  • Orchomenos will be presented as one of the rural destinations in Greece at the ATOI Agrotourism Conference that will take place in Italy next October.

Photos: Gargalakos «Υπαίθρος Χώρα» & Y. Zannias