He’s feeling the cold a bit more now, and so splits his time between his farm on the northern tip of New Zealand’s Southern Isle, and the summer months in his homeland Macedonia. The rigour of hard work is his constant though; as a 14-year-old he was conscripted into the army to drive the German invasion north, then exiled from his homeland during the protracted Balkan unrest. He made his home in the furthest corner of the world, the South Island of New Zealand, after escaping the army through the Greek mountains and into Greece. George took with him just the shirt on his back, and a work ethic instilled from childhood: getting up before dawn and barefoot ploughing with oxen, before the 40-degree midday heat.
In the 1950s, he found himself some swampland, at the base of Mt Arthur, a renowned source of alpine water. It became his farm, his life’s work and is now where he spends the warmer months in New Zealand. Parts of the swamp he filled with local seashells and over time as they broke down, it became the rich lime and calcium substrate of his lush citrus orchard. The farm is still being utilised for a whole host of growing uses. Macedonian fig is his favourite fruit and to allow it to grow in the cooler South Island clime, he plants them beside packed tyres that hold and radiate the heat. His micro-climate nurtures other rare exotics, grown from Macedonian seeds brought back in his socks in the ‘50s and ‘60s.