Hand Picked Greece

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A UK tour operator operating in Greece providing food themed, local gastronomy experiences in Greece. Small group holidays and tailor made experiences. We take travellers away from tourist Greece, providing them with a real experience of local culture. Our offering includes cookery workshops, visits to local food producers (wine, cheese, olive oil, honey etc), participation on the season’s harvest (olives, grapes etc). Always promoting responsible tourism and sustainable living we organize experiences and activities based on our core values; being a traveller rather than a tourist, supporting the local economy, protecting the natural environment and being part of the local culture.
Member since: 13 Aug 2015

How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...

Economic responsibility

  • Supporting the local economy is one of our core values. As much of the costs of our holidays we invest back into the community, and we make sure that all our suppliers are local businesses and self employed service providers in the area, guides, guesthouse owners, restaurant and local café owners as well as farmers.
  • Local artisan producers are fundamental to our operations and value proposition. These are small family food and agricultural businesses with a history that goes back many generations. We have established a network of such businesses and have developed strong ties with them. Our offering includes numerous visits to such businesses, so that our guests can learn a bit of their craft and try their products. Additionally we offer tastings at the Olive Farm with artisan food products from all over Greece and so that our guests can compare the different flavours of similar products when these are produced in different locations depending on the local biodiversity.Owing to the on going economic recession in Greece such business have suffered significant economic losses and in order to remain alive they need to find alternative sources of income. We are here to help spread the word for them and offer them an extra source of income through our visits and workshops.
  • Since we have recently launched we have not had a chance to organize any charity campaigns however this is part of our immediate plans. We are hoping that in the near future we will be able to set up a local charity that will assist the poorer members of our community in terms of financial assistance as well as capacity building and entrepreneurship. Since we are running a permaculture system in the farm, as a starting point we are already providing veggie boxes to a number of families that are facing economic difficulties in the area.

Environmental responsibility

  • Our base is on Crete is the Olive Farm, a farm that we are developing based on sustainable principles. It is a permaculture system and we have built all external facilities in the Farm using rescued materials, from the hen houses to the workshop area. Additionally, we have used natural building methods using clay and straw in several structures all around the farm. There is a recycling scheme tied to our environmental education workshops, as well as composting. On top of that we have developed a plant nursery where we grow plants endemic in the area and are keeping a seed bank with heirloom seeds. We have taken care to built ramps and raised vegetable beds so that people with disabilities may not be excluded.
  • We are making efforts to keep long distance transport at a minimum. Part of the weekly schedule will include a visit or two to places of exceptional natural significance a bit further away from the area but we have kept all other visits in nearby villages. All visits are in concentric circles. Our recommended method of transport between the villages is by bicycle or on foot following the existing footpaths, however there is possibility for transport using a car for visitors who might require it or are unable to take up much physical activity. We have set up a series for workshops and local voluntary activities designed for kids of all ages and targeting families on Crete through which we are hoping to increase environmental awareness.
  • As part of our customer proposition we also offer guided day tours in areas of environmental significance often NATURA sites ie The White Mountains, the island of Gramvousa and the lagoon of Balos, gorges, wetlands and estuaries as presented on the EU habitats and bird’s directives.

Social responsibility

  • Our value proposition is largely based on the preservation of the local culture. We want to preserve and enhance the traditional ways of doing things in everyday life, the habits and traditions. There are crafts, knitting and cooking methods protected by UNESCO, from knitting to preserving vegetables and fruits, which we make sure to communicate, also offering an extra source of income to the craft makers. We are making attempts to organize the holiday packages depending on the local harvests, seasonality and cultural events so that our guest will be able to maximize their experience during their visit and the local community will benefit in a respectable way, keeping a win –win solution for everybody.
  • The social impact of the economic situation in Greece is taking a huge toll on the people and especially small family business. The Greek domestic product (Food and tourism) is still as good as it always was but it surely needs branding and better marketing. Part of our vision is to help these businesses not only to survive but to grow and find extra sales channels. We are hoping that by bringing travellers closer to artisan producers, the food, the land and the local culture we will succeed.
  • Finally, we are currently organising a local project on Crete that will greatly assist sustainable tourism in the area. The aim is to open up, sign post and map an entire network of footpaths that connect the villages in the area. These were used by local shepherds but have now long been forgotten. This will also include the monitoring of endemic plant and animal species.

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