Μultiplying knowledge
by Danae Bersi, Content Creator, New Agriculture for a New Generation


SyntaGIS Asclepius

When I started talking with Giannis Karapetsas, founding member of the SCE "SyntaGIS Asclepius ", the first thing I had to find out was what “propagating material” means and how exactly it is used in the production process. John explained everything to me in detail and at the end of our meeting, I had learned a lot.

Giannis Karapetsas is a beneficiary of the “Aromatic and Medicinal Plants” program by New Agriculture for A New Generation, implemented by the Agricultural University of Athens. Giannis, like his entire team, is from the area of Trikala and they have created the "SyntaGIS Asclepius", a Social Cooperative Enterprise that aims to produce Guaranteed Propagating Material from native populations found in Trikala.


Propagating material on action

But what is propagating material? Giannis explained the whole process to me. First they find the herbs, they identify them, then these herbs are evaluated through chemical analysis and after they have selected the best ones, they create mother plantations from which they produce pure propagating material, or as we often call them, "cuttings".

"Raw propagating material, or cuttings, comes from the seeds," Giannis tells me. "The goal is for each plant to have exactly the same characteristics," he added.

Giannis told me that he always wanted to work with medicinal and aromatic plants. He had studied Agriculture at the Agricultural University of Athens. In 2004, he met a botanist, "I remember being impressed by the fact that he was taking wild herbs and mixing them. Watching the whole process and after I tried them, I was so excited that I said that is what I want to do!", Giannis told me.

From 2004 to 2019, when he finally started working with medicinal and aromatic plants, although 15 years have passed, Giannis' love for herbs and aromatic plants remained. So, he decided to participate in the training program on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of the New Agriculture for A New Generation, which is implemented by the Agricultural University of Athens.

Their team, that came from Trikala, started with 14 people. Now, their SCE consists of 6 members. In their first phase, they started by cultivating Herbal Mountain Tea (Sideritis perfoliata ssp. Perfoliata), Melissa officinalis (ssp. Altissima) and Wild Rose (Rosa canina), herbs that can be found in Mount Kerketios, or “Koziakas”, as we know him best today.


Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Program

Giannis was excited when he shared with me his experience with the New Agriculture for a New Generation’ s program. "The knowledge provided by the New Agriculture for a New Generation is really valuable. They have built a complete team, consisting of agronomists, botanists, chemists, etc", he tells me, while adding that "The support they provide you is huge. They don't leave you alone at any stage."

Of course, for Giannis, practice is just as important as theory. "For me, it's not just academic education that offers a lot. The fact that through the program, you get to know the object firsthand, is what we, the people who work in the agri-food sector, wish to achieve”, he tells me. "The excursions for example, that we did with the team last summer so we could collect the right shoots and then multiply them, they were crucial experiences."

The goal of the team from Trikala is, depending on the orders they have, to be able to produce a specific number of propagating material every year, which can either be given to local producers or used by them, in the rich agricultural environment of Trikala.
At the end of our discussion, Giannis told me “I feel that what we are doing has a perspective, has a future and can contribute to the Greek economy as a whole. There are Greek producers who are remarkable and want to be involved. In cooperation with us, we can all contribute together, both to the local economy and to the country’s overall economy, highlighting the value of the agri-food sector".