Santorini Arts Factory is a nonprofit organization based on Santorini Island, Greece, that aims to promote the Greek cultural heritage and to contribute to intellect and culturally shape children’s and young adult’s education. It was founded in 2014 and it is housed in a unique old factory that now stands as the Tomato Industrial Museum “D. Nomikos”. The mission statement of this innovative endeavor is that SAF becomes one of the main cores of cultural activity on Santorini as well as a crossroad of civilizations, which will provide direct, firm and constant access to qualitative artistic events.
The participation and activation of internationally acknowledged personalities in every field, the continuous and massive encouragement of the inhabitants and the visitors as well as the support of local and governmental authorities and institutions, constitute guarantees that this initiative will attain its social, cultural, educational and philanthropic objectives. In this context, SAF is expected to host acclaimed artists from all over the world in its annual program and continue to successfully organize art exhibitions, theatrical and musical performances, dance workshops and art events. SAF is exclusively devoted to house color, sound and movement; art and culture for all ages.
The cherry-sized tomato of Santorini has been cultivated on the island since the end of the 19th century. Although not irrigated, it grows due to the morning moisture withheld by the soft volcanic soil with the pumice stone it contains. Santorinian tomatoes have a distinctive flavor, hard peel, small size and high sugars, making it ideal for the production of tomato paste.
HISTORY OF D. NOMIKOS
In 1915 Dimitrios Nomikos started the production of tomato paste in a small pre-industrial technology plant in Messaria. In 1922, he builds in Monolithos one of the first tomato canning industry in the Balkans, as he used to say, with state-of-the-art technology of the time, using machinery imported from abroad. In 1945, George Nomikos, son of Dimitrios, builds the plant in Vlychada, the center of the best tomato producing area of the island, with a daily capacity of 3,500 baskets. During the first season the plant operates without even having a roof. The production period extends from June till August, with late tomatoes coming from the area of Pyrgos.
A small canning line within the plant produces the tin cans, while the fuel used in the boiler for the production of steam is originally coal brought from Kymi, Evoia. The plant later operates on fuel oil. The winter of 1952, during a heavy rain, water coming from the road enters the factory, breaking the door of the big yard and floods the plant, carrying away machinery and products into the sea and covering the factory with mud 2.30 meters high. That same year, the warehouses were built on the upper side of the yard for the storage of the products, protecting at the same time the factory from future flooding. In 1956 the plant survived the big earthquake without any damage, while George Nomikos expands his activity on the island of Kos in Dodecanese, by building one more plant. At that time, 9 tomato factories were operating on the island, the production was at its peak and the products - shipped by hand on small boats from the beach - were sold all over Greece, having the advantage of being the earliest production in the market.
In 1971 the first exports to Europe start and ‘D. Nomikos’, incorporated to a ‘societe anonyme’. The company now expands to continental Greece with a new factory in Aliartos, Voiotia. In the years to follow tourism will grow and tomato cultivation will shrink on the island, causing the factory to cease its operation permanently after the last crop of 1981. That year D. Nomikos s.a. opens a new plant in Domokos, Fthiotis, which today, together with the Aliartos plant process in just 12 hours the quantity of the entire production season of the once modern Vlychada factory.
The historical tomato factory of D.Nomikos in Vlychada has been transformed into a modern Industrial Tomato Museum, offering its visitors a journey back to the industrial past of Santorini, by guiding them through the cultivation, processing and production of tomato. Given that tomato is one of the most famous and traditional products of Santorini, makes this experience a unique one. In the museum the visitor experiences all the traditional methods followed by the tomato producers of Santorini and at the same time, becomes acquainted with the museum exhibits.
These include a full range of the processing machinery dating back to 1890, hand-written account books of the plant, a variety of hand-written notebooks regarding various aspects of the factory, old tools, the first labels used, a dated history of the island of Santorini, its inhabitants and their unique tradition as well as audiovisual material with narrations of people who worked in the plant, witnessing their firsthand experiences of a by-gone industrial era.