As rich and beautiful the nature in Sitia district is so interesting and alive is the rural life there. The grounds of Sitia, the plains, the valleys the hills and the feet of the mountains are cultivated while the rest of the land, the mountainsides the holly and olive tree forests the acres covered with prickly brooms, sage, thyme and other aromatic plants offer lodging and food to many free-range flocks of sheep and goats.
Furthermore near the biotopes which are suitable for shrubs and wild flowers, "clusters" of bee hives the so called "bee gardens" are placed. The majority of the population in the province are farmers.
Olive-growers, vine-growers, vegetable growers in greenhouses or outdoor, cattle-breeders, bee-keepers while in the villages along the coast they are fishermen. The visitor in the province will be delighted to find nice pictures of rural life which may be primitive and moving: Old people who insist oil using old methods for example olive-harvest with a stick the so called "katsouna" vine-harvest with the basket, digging with a mattock, sheep shearing and milking, going fishing with the boat and the fishing-nets, transportation with donkeys, and so many other activities that tend 4 to disappear quickly due to the modernization and the mechanization of farming.
Of course you will see modem farmers as well, with farming machinery, automobiles and processing and packaging facilities; the inevitable technological development in our times that allows the mass production and the standardization of rural products in order to reach the consumers far away having reasonable prices and being of good quality.
In Sitia district the traditional and the modem coexist not only in the farming but in any sector in a harmonious and impressive way most of the times.
A typical example is the harmonious coexistence on the Chandra Plateau where old windmills are used to draw water for watering while the modern wind generators are producing electricity out of wind power. You can see clusters of those generators, the so called wind parks, in other places of this district as well for example near the villages Achladia, Xerolimni and Palekastro. These modem windmills strike a different note in the mountain scenery and "stand for" the ecological landscape
Due to these pioneer wind parks that have caught the European attention, Crete is the first island in the world to have recovered mild renewable energy sources. The rural landscape of Sitia district is marked by the predominance of the olive trees. The visitor can see everywhere the holy tree of Athena with the silver -green leaves standing there playing with the wind and receiving in rest the hot sun rays, transforming its juice to the magical elixir of life and health, the olive oil.
Plains, hills, valleys and mountainsides are all so similar and so different but always covered with this blessed tree whilst every now and then small and large vineyards, gardens and fruit-bearing trees with their dark green shades and their vivid and joyful colors lay oil the appealing picture of the Sitian landscape.
But it is not only about the beauty of the landscape. The thousand-year-old experience of the peasants teaches that the olive oil and the wine - the latter in small quantities- are beneficial for the health and prolong life. The scientific research in the last years confirms these two facts in the most celebrating way!
It has been proven that olive oil protects people from heart diseases, cancer and many other diseases, gives vitality and prolongs life. Furthermore the red wine has a salutary influence oil prevention of cancer, osteoporosis and other diseases. The research has proved that the Cretan nutrition based on the olive oil and inclusively the consuming of legumes, vegetables and fruits, low fat meat, dairy products and small quantities of wine, is the cause of the good health and longevity of the Cretans which is the longest in the world - and is recommended by all specialists and nutritionists.
The wine of Sitia has been famous since the antiquity. Lucullus used to transport by ships the wine from Sitia to Rome for his renowned Lucullean feasts! Today the Sitian wine is of excellent quality and is selling like hot cakes in Greece and abroad while the olive oil of Sitia is best olive oil in the world.
It is extra virgin oil of high quality designation of origin controlled by HACCP and 150 9002 and for many years now is awarded the first price in many contests. This year it was awarded the first world price by the contest for extra virgin olive oils organized by the International Olive Oil Council (a United Nations institution). Within the last few years in the district of Sitia around the area of the TOPLOU Monastery and elsewhere, the organic farming of olive trees and vines has been developed in an innovative way by individuals or groups of young farmers supported by the LEADER programms so that olive oils, wines, olives, olive paste, soap and vinegar of high quality have been produced and packed. The unique conventional or organic products of Sitia are available in appealing prices in shops, in special selling-points or by the producers themselves in the whole district. You can find details and the places to visit in the annex of this brochure.
The olive tree and the vine not only give their blessed fruits but are firmly associated with the history and the culture, the tradition, the art and the way of living in Sitia, at the Mediterranean and in Europe. It does really worth it, to follow their particularly interesting and beautiful course in time as well as the course of the undiscovered Sitia full of images, experiences, emotions, beneficial knowledge and messages for a lifetime.