10 Questions to Vasilis from Berryland!
Behind every product involved in Wise Greece, there is one producer who gives generously his love and passion to what he is doing! It’s time to meet Vasilis from Berryland, who aims at making the daily consumption of superfoods an indulgent habit!
Tell us a little about you? How did you start? How did you get the idea to occupy with food? In 2012, when I resigned from the private sector, where my salary was 370 € (!), I had two choices … either staying in Greece and struggling or leaving for abroad … So I did a big research and ended up in superfoods’ cultivation and the creation of innovative products out of them! So we stayed in Greece and we are very happy for our choice!
Tell us a little about the Berryland. What does it stands for? Why did you create it? My wife gave the name Berryland to one of our small farms, where all sorts of berries are grown… I liked the idea and so the name of our products was established… Berryland advocates the struggle and the labors of our efforts, anxieties and our concerns. A small idea that slowly grows … When we started we certainly did not expect our progress so far …
How did you start? What difficulties did you face? I started with a dream … Now let me say that I live this dream! It seems like dreams come true … When I started, my son was already four months old and the salary of 370 € was not enough for the needs of the baby. Then I told myself that now I need to see what I can do … So I came up with the idea of cultivation … and at that time the difficulties began … I had no idea how to plant. Moreover, we had no land available to plant … So the risk was big … I started by ordering plants and searching for land… I found a land of 10 acres … I started with plenty of audacity … Fences, plowing, tasks I faced for the first time, and then planting. Then, we needed water for planting the trees … At that point, my inexperience was shown, because I rented a field without having water! But neither this difficulty stood up as a problem! For almost two years I carried water with cans, the other farmers mocked and taunted me, but I did not give up! Then, a private land came by where we have a small farm with our two horses except for our berries …. There were many difficulties as we were not farmers. But our stubborness and our will, did lead us …
Tell us about your products. What makes them different? At this point, we have 10 codes on food products and nearly 10 codes in cosmetics with goji berry! We have pickle goji berry, goji with chili, tomato sauce with goji, vinegar with sea-buckthorn, vinegar with Aroni, “submarine” with blueberry and many other! The diversity of our products is due to the fact that we combine Greek cuisine with the superfoods we cultivate. So we have special tasty combinations that make the consumption of the superfoods… a great delight!
Tell us about your raw materials and your recipes? I am solely responsible for the raw materials. I am looking daily for the best possible cooperations. Basically, I believe that we need to work as a chain, which means that if someone cultivates onions and it is a good product, then I will get that product from him, from another I will get the pomegranates, the olive oil and so on … Therefore, I am sure that the raw materials come from original cultivators and our product is totally greek! The recipes came out after many hours of experimentation and discussion in our laboratories.
Are there some products that you stand out for? I can’t pick one. I feel the same pride for all of them and I’m moved everytime I meet them on the shelves … However, at this time, I can say that our two “submarines” with blueberry and with Aroni steal the impressions in global level …
Give us some suggestions about your products. The goji pickle is perfect for green salad, which can be combined with any of our vinegars and a few drops of Berryland molasses. It also matches with black eyed bean salad, as well as halloumi. Sea buckthorn jam is ideal to finish our chicken. It is excellent for cooking because of its acidic fruity taste. The goji with chili can be offered as a dip or added in any meat in tomato sauce. Tomato sauce with goji boosts our pasta. They are products which can be added in our everyday life and we can enjoy the benefits of superfoods.
Can the Greek producers make a difference in this crisis? In the crisis, the Greek producers have made a difference! Many products have won awards all over the world and have been honored in international competitions. I believe we have “won the bet”. It is a pure success that the “submarine”, a traditional Greek dessert, has won the German market!
What difficulties does Greek producer face today? Nowadays, unfortunately, the Greek producer is only facing difficulties… Should we talk about taxation? Taxes everywhere, paperwork on exports and so many other things … But the good will and the persistence keep us around and hope that at some point things will get better.
Why did you choose to participate and support the Initiative Wise Greece? Once I was informed of the initiative Wise Greece, I said I wanted to be a member of this group. It is something I support and I do it with all my heart. I totally want to contribute to my fellow citizen!