By Marleen Zambartas Brouwer
In a time of crisis our first reflex is our safety and wellbeing. Our family, our friends and our direct community are the most precious. We want to make sure we are all healthy, keep our jobs and maintain a lifestyle that is rewarding and fulfilling.
This health crisis is quickly tumbling into a major economic crisis, and at the root of it lays an ever-increasing ecological crisis. The mountain for solutions seems high to climb and if you are not a policy maker or scientist, you might feel there is little you can do to help tackling the challenges facing us. Yet, you have one powerful tool, you are a consumer. And that matters.
Cyprus is an island abundant in natural resources on which its society has thrived for centuries. The Mediterranean climate in combination with Cyprus’ rich soil and mild climate, offer local produce often hailed as the ‘secret to longevity and health’. The island is filled with olive groves, produces quality wines, ripe and juicy fruit and vegetables, local cheeses and artisanal jams.
The production of local products is a force of economic activity in rural areas that often lag behind in development. We small producers turn Cyprus’ natural resources into a small but essential part of the economy. As processes in small agro-businesses are often less automated, young people with limited education find work in production. Village inhabitants have an extra source of income from their olive groves or vineyards, and life and money flows back into small communities. A network of local businesses around us, such as packaging suppliers, the village DIY, builders and local tavernas gain business too.
Small producers also play a pivotal role in the protection of Cyprus’ precious ecological systems. We are the ‘canary in the mine’, as we are the first to alarm responders on impending hazards such as fires or plant disease. We know the land, its ecosystems and biodiversity. We need nature to be healthy, because when it thrives, we thrive. Along with us, more and more local producers turn towards ecological friendly farming and ‘organic’ certifications are increasing. This means there is a larger choice of products free of harmful substances and made in balance with nature.
Supply chains are short as local producers often directly supply local stores and markets and during these challenging times offer direct home delivery for safety and convenience. Not only does this reduce carbon footprint, it also inevitably means you often receive a fresher product.
Many family businesses, young and old, have dedicated their creativity and commitment to producing high quality, value for money and flavoursome products from our own soil. Times are hard for them, but with your support, they will not only continue, but thrive. And when they thrive, small villages and our nature thrives.
Next time you go shopping, look out for these products and buy them, a powerful tool to support your local community and enjoy and protect our natural abundance.
Marleen Zambartas Brouwer and her husband Marcos run Zambartas Winery in the Limassol district with their team of young people