Published October 14, 2021 | Version v1
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Stone-breaking in Skirts Women building terraces in Pelendri village, Pitsillia, Cyprus

  • 1. Executive Director of the Laona Foundation for the Conservation and Regeneration of the Cypriot Countryside


In the early part of the 20th century, the island of Cyprus in the East Mediterranean, then a British colony, had a mostly agrarian economy to which the whole family contributed its labour during the harvesting seasons (vineyards, carobs, olives, fruits, potatoes), if not all year round. So, village women were a regular part of the farming scene, working alongside their menfolk, whether it was sowing, tending to their cultivations, or maintaining the dry-stone walls that supported the terraces. 

In the fifties and sixties, in the wake of the island’s independence came early tourism and light industry, as well as road works and other infrastructure. At that time, while village men joined the workforce, it was mainly women who took charge of the family’s agricultural activities, including maintaining the terraces on their land (terraces were officially encouraged to support the soils and prevent erosion). 

This paper focuses on six women farmers of different ages from the mountain village of Pelendri, in the vine-growing Pitsillia area, who exchange memories and observations. They include the choice of stones selected for wall-making; the incentives received as encouragement for maintaining stone walls, in the form of foodstuffs; and the special challenges that women had to face being both full-time farmers, as well as homemakers and carers.


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