In 1996, Kostas Moukas a Greek immigrant with origins from the abandoned village of Milies in the island of Lesvos who had recently returned from the United States bought some land in the mountain around Plomari, Lesvos. The area had been devastated by a fire a few years ago. Kostas’ goal was to restore the land, protect and promote the area by cleaning and signposting the old footpaths, building wooden bridges to cross the rivers and buying several olive groves to build up his eco-farm that he called Toumba.
In this effort, he found help from people from various parts of the world through WWOOF (WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms). They would help with the chores on the farm, with the restoration of the land and the signposting and cleaning of the old footpaths outside the farm in exchange for free shelter and free food. In a time when most of the Greeks didn’t even know what the internet is, this was something quite innovative.
In 2000 the first building, a warehouse is built. The first two horses are brought to Toumba.
In 2002 the farm was evolving: 120 fig trees are planted; the olive trees are pruned and begin to produce more and better-quality oil. More horses are purchased, and the existing ones start breeding, making it possible for more visitors to enjoy a ride in the area, or spend the day on the farm. Toumba’s horses are a nearly extinct breed of regional mountain horse, the Mydilis. Short in stature and with a characteristic style, the Mydilis is well suited to the mountainous terrain of its homeland.
Support from the European program Leader makes it possible for Kostas to continue the expansion of Toumba. In 2004 a cafe was constructed, where visitors can find comfortable shelter from the sun and the wind. Toumba purchases mountain bikes for guests to explore the area trails and stables are built to house the horses and the riding equipment.
In 2008 five guesthouses were built. All the buildings on the farm are made of local stone and wood. The guesthouses make use of solar water heating. Two wind turbines were also used in the past to produce electricity.
Although Kostas passed away due to a motorbike accident in 2011, today Toumba, an eco-farm with hundreds of olive and fig trees are thriving, and his three daughters and their mother manage the place. Guests in Toumba can enjoy horse riding, mountain biking and hiking. They can also taste agricultural products produced locally on the farm.
The next steps for Toumba, according to its managers, is the improvement of the energy efficiency of the buildings on the farm and the replacement of the oil heating system with heat pumps. Also, the recruitment of a horse-riding teacher.
Find out more on http://www.toumba.gr/