A family household unit that transforms sheep's milk into quality cheese products
by Danae Bersi, Content Creator, New Agriculture New Generation

Our Beneficiaries:

Meet Panagiota Poulaki, beneficiary of the “Agroanelixis-Cottage Industry” accelerator

Panagiota is a young hardworking woman, an entrepreneur in the agri-food sector who loves animals, and her dream is to develop her own cottage industry in the sheep-breeding sector. Having set up her own small cheese factory, she currently produces products such as white sheep's milk cheese and whey cheese (anthotyro and mizithra), but her goals and dreams don't stop there. Presenting her vision for her own cottage industry, Panagiota managed to be among the 15 beneficiaries of the agrifood acceleration program “Agroanelixis”, implemented by the "New Agriculture New Generation" organization.

Originating from Kyparissi in Laconia, a small seaside village, Panagiota watched her father realize his dream in 2013 and set up a small sheep farm with just 30 sheep back then. Panagiota found the farm really exciting so, after finishing high school, she decided to study in the field of Animal Production, at the American School of Agriculture and to slowly begin her career in the agri-food sector.

Making ideas happen:

The cottage industry that processes sheep's milk into quality cheese products

After the crisis in the dairy sector, where Panagiota and her father, as well as many producers, saw the prices of milk fall sharply, they decided to turn to the manufacturing sector and create their own cottage industry. "It simply came to our notice then. I wanted to give my own point of view to the company ", says Panagiota.

So, they decided to proceed with the processing of the milk and to create a small cheese factory which is in Kyparissi, Laconia, with Panagiota returning to Thessaloniki at the same time to attend another specialization program, this time on cheese-making. For a year and a half, they have timidly started to build their own cottage industry and process their products in their own cheese factory while they also aim at producing yogurt, with Panagiota already testing interesting products such as sheep yogurt with superfoods or yogurt with pollen.

Father and daughter currently have about 500 sheep and Panagiota's goal is to be able to process all the amount of milk produced, as currently out of 140 tons of milk they process only 10.

«Agroanelixis-Cottage industry»:

What’s the agri-food accelerator’s contribution?

Wanting to develop her vision for the creation of her own cottage industry, she found "Agroanelixis- Cottage Industry" acceleration program, where she was finally selected among the 15 participants.

"The acceleration program is extremely important for those who are engaged or wish to be active in the agri-food sector. I learned information and found out about other fields necessary for promoting our work, such as marketing. And all this from renowned professionals in the field ", says Panagiota while adding that "it was truly like a knowledge journey for me. What I learned was really useful, I already see it applied to my work!"

Designing together with the “New Agriculture New Generation”’s team his own cottage industry

In collaboration with the NANG team, Panagiota having completed her training, for the coming months will receive specialized guidance from her mentors, renowned professionals in the agri-food sector. Furthermore, through the financing that she will receive in through her participation in "Agroanelixis-Cottage Industry" program, she will be able to buy mechanical and material equipment that will help her to develop her home industry.

So the first goal for supporting her new cottage industry is the processing of all the amount of milk she produces and the creation of a stable sales network, both in Greece and possibly abroad. Also, she says that its in her immediate plants to create a large farm that will be open to visitors. "I want the visitors to have a complete picture of our vertical unit, to know what a cottage industry is. To be able to see how we collect the milk, to get in touch with the place and the fauna where our animals are raised and then to see the processing of the products and to get in touch with the cheese-making processes", she states.

Panagiota says that through her participation in the agri-food acceleration program “Agroanelixis” by NANG, she was able to realise the importance of supporting cottage industries and the products they produce. "I met colleagues who are trying to build their own household, like me, one in the remote area of Evros, someone else in Psara, offering real quality products to the consumer and putting their soul into it. It's very important when an organization supports them so actively! ".