Farming in Ancient Greece

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Farming in ancient Greece was difficult due to the limited amount of good soil and cropland. It is estimated that only twenty percent of the land was usable for growing crops. The main crops were barley, grapes, and olives.

Barley was the main cereal crop for the ancient Greek farmers. They made the barley into porridge or ground it into flour to make bread. Olive oil was used for cooking oil or in oil lamps. Grapes were primarily used for wine production, although they could be eaten or dried into raisins. The Greeks watered down wine, mixing one part wine with two parts water. Drinking wine straight was considered barbaric.

Grain crops, such as barley and wheat, were planted in October and harvested in April or May. Olives were harvested November through February. Grapes were normally picked in September.

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Most farms were small with four or five acres of land. Farmers grew enough food to support their families and, at times, they grew a small surplus to sell at the local market. There were some very large farms run by overseers while the owner lived in the city. One record showed a farmer making 30,000 drachmas in a year off his large farm. (An average worker made about two drachmas a day.) This was the exception because most farms were small to medium sized.

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