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Makratzis Kyriakos

“If you are with olives since youth, you think, ‘oh my God, I want to do something else!’ But I can’t sit in an office. I left the ship, and I came back.”

Kyriakos Makratzis grew up helping on the family farm. Seeking escape during his youth, he went so far as to travel the world as a ship captain. But even that did not keep him away from the family olive groves: he took his vacations during harvest time to work with olives rather than relax on beaches. And when his first son was born, he returned to the farm.

However, after 15 years of farming, Kyriakos became discouraged by the hard work, low income, lack of appreciation of his efforts, and frustration about using pesticides and fertilizers without guidance. The old factories all sold olive oil to Italy in bulk. “So even if I tried more than the other farmers, the oil went into the same tank. Nobody cared. Same price. Not worth trying to do anything more…. My life was at a critical point. I renewed my papers to go back to sea, because I saw there was no future here.”
Before he could leave, though, he ended up at Terra Creta’s mill. With his pickup truck full of olives, the rain beginning, and the machines at the mill he had used out of order for a week, friends at a café told him about Terra Creta’s new factory—the way to avoid a week’s delay in olive oil extraction. “I came here, saw a new business” with clean stainless steel machinery, talked with the owner, and felt “that something was moving. Marketing, new people” who knew how to run an export business. Once he saw that things were different at Terra Creta, he changed his mind and did not return to sea.

Kyriakos decided “to start again” with Terra Creta, to “try for something better” now that he had someone to both help and appreciate him. He was impressed that Terra Creta not only “pushed us to produce better oil,” but also “provided instruction on how to do that” which he had previously lacked, while paying better prices for the farmers’ olive oil. Although it takes time for changes to be accepted, Kyriakos says, “Terra Creta is now a leader in the area,” with other farmers increasingly interested in their innovative practices. 

 

 

Location of olive groves - Kontomari / Chania

Age of olive trees - 25 to 750 years

Olive tree variety - Koroneiki

Harvesting method - handpicked

Harvesting period - October to January

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