What is a Mandra?

HINT: On the Greek Island of Lemnos mandras offer a traditional and environmentally friendly way of farming.

#RootedEveryday

HINT: On the Greek Island of Lemnos mandras offer a traditional and environmentally friendly way of farming.

#RootedEveryday

The remote Greek island of Lemnos is located in the North Eastern Aegean between Lesvos and Samothrace. Lemnos’s rugged terrain, lowland plains and 260 km long coastline distinguishes it as a place rich in biodiversity and steeped in history that stretches back to the Neolithic period.

The remote Greek island of Lemnos is located in the North Eastern Aegean between Lesvos and Samothrace. Lemnos’s rugged terrain, lowland plains and 260 km long coastline distinguishes it as a place rich in biodiversity and steeped in history that stretches back to the Neolithic period.

Visitors to the island can experience the harmony of living off the land as it was before intensive agriculture and industry. Groves of walnut trees, stone built traditional farms -mandras-, lush pastures filled with goats who are free to roam, roadside beehives, and local craft shops selling jewellery, ceramics and handicrafts tell a thousand tales of rural entrepreneurs working hard to continue with a way of life that has been lost in so many places in the Mediterranean. Lemnos’s delicious smells, tastes, sights and sounds link us to the past and offer a more sustainable way of living now and in the future.

© Stefan Meyer

Visitors to the island can experience the harmony of living off the land as it was before intensive agriculture and industry. Groves of walnut trees, stone built traditional farms -mandras-, lush pastures filled with goats who are free to roam, roadside beehives, and local craft shops selling jewellery, ceramics and handicrafts tell a thousand tales of rural entrepreneurs working hard to continue with a way of life that has been lost in so many places in the Mediterranean. Lemnos’s delicious smells, tastes, sights and sounds link us to the past and offer a more sustainable way of living now and in the future.

All photographs © Stefan Meyer

Restoring Traditional Farming in Lemnos

The Terra Lemnia project is working with farmers to support traditional and environmentally friendly ways of working with the land, especially the mandra system.

A mandra is an area of land fenced with dry stone occupied by an animal shed, a shepherd’s hut and a barn. You’ll sometimes find a stone threshing floor, small creamery, bread oven or a small vegetable garden within its walls. Around the mandra animals graze on natural rangelands and farmlands are cultivated with cereal and leguminous crops either used as fodder for livestock or human consumption. They’re sustainable homes and businesses of high ecological and cultural value.

With our project partners we’re working at many levels with practitioners on the ground, mobilising local stakeholders and building up our collective knowledge base of traditional agriculture and its positive impact on the environment. We’ve seen the abandonment of this way of living threatening local biodiversity and natural resources as more intensive farming is introduced, leaving this insular community more vulnerable to climate change.

We want to see the conservation or restoration of landscapes rich with local crop varieties, rangelands sown with seeds to create rich pastures and support sustainable grazing. To see more mandras being used on the hillsides. To have greater market value placed on local products and rewarding hard working rural entrepreneurs with certification for high quality products. To work with schools and young people, conveying the message of land stewardship and helping create multi-functional farms for the future that are protected by law and get the funding they need not just to survive but to thrive.

To do all this we need to treat our practitioners with respect and work together. To create a sense of pride in the island inhabitants, and to reach out to people across the waters to understand the value of traditional landscapes for our Mediterranean heritage and to preserve the wonders of nature.

Partners