Based in Lamia, the Stevia Hellas Agricultural Cooperative stands out as a success story for its innovative production and management model. The only large-scale producer of stevia across Europe, Stevia Hellas was founded in 2011 with 47 producers and a 10-member management team. The Cooperative focuses on the cultivation and standardization of stevia products and has invested in producing top quality products.
The Food Product Development Institute participated in the Trophy-Τροφή Challenge competition organized by "New Agriculture for a New Generation" program, where they presented the "Uplifting Water", a natural beverage produced by the fermentation of a group of probiotic microorganisms which has many beneficial health effects.
Under the shadow of Mount Othrys, the Group from Almyros, as part of the training seminars of the “New Agriculture for a New Generation” program came up with an innovative product that uses capsules compatible with Nespresso machines containing mixtures of aromatic plants.
"I believe that through counseling, we can make a link between knowledge and universities and the rural sector. This way, we come closer, we keep in touch with these people and adapt to their needs. By practicing counseling, you learn to listen to the other, to hear his needs, and to give him a solution to his problem. Unfortunately, this usually doesn't happen, we aren’t used to listen to each other. Here, counseling is an essential communication".
I had a chance to meet with Catherine, an experienced apiculturist, and talk about her past, her involvement with apiculture, her participation in the Apiculture training program of the “New Agriculture for a New Generation” program as well as her future plans and dreams.
"Greece has lots of small family producers, and now it has an opportunity to recover its agricultural sector through cooperation and collaboration, without consolidating wealth in the hands of a few. Greece needs to seek its own way".
During Agricultural University of Athens' week-long “Summer School” in Trikala, Ioanna and her 2 sisters sampled different products, like feta cheese with truffle oil, which gave them ideas for products of their own. They also received theoretical training and professional advice and had a chance to meet other local producers.
“By the end of the program, the beneficiaries will get a complete education in apiculture. They keep in touch with them over the next two years to follow up on their progress and offer advice and help with their new businesses.”
“Our dream is to further establish our presence in the alternative touristic package of Epirus and to promote the birdwatching interest in this protected area. We hope to make Greece a popular birding destination in the winter as well.”
Thomas Karagiorgos, teacher of alternative tourism in the “New Agriculture for a New Generation” program, wants to help people understand how outdoor sports can improve their quality of life.
“After three years, we will have 300 enthusiastic graduates of this program. People from all different backgrounds who have the same dream,” said Maria Soumelidou, teacher in the Alternative Tourism program.
“I often tell my students: In 30 years, 62% of jobs will concern specialities we can not even imagine today. Without a solid scientific background, you will not be able to succeed.”, says Serkos Haroutounian, scientific officer at AUA responsible for the “New Agriculture for a New Generation” program.
"Tourism is now the main industry in Greece, and if we are to change people’s attitudes about what Greek tourism is, we need education.", says Maria Soumelidou, teacher of Alternative Tourism at the NANG program.
“I’ve worked in the fields with my father and learned from him since I was a child,” said Dimitris Theodorakis, beneficiary of the apiculture training seminars of the “New Agriculture for a New Generation” program.
After the first seminar, Anastasia Dimitriadou showed one of the bee videos to her children and husband. “My little son was fascinated,” she said. “I think that beekeeping is something I can teach my kids, something we can all do together.”
"With the help of the program, many of the farmers have formed committed relationships that will last for decades. The beneficiaries’ success will have a positive effect on those around them, and we hope that they will share their knowledge with future generations.” said Ilias Kalfas, manager of the “Small Farm Adoption” project.
In the “Small Farm Adoption” project, the training that each beneficiary receives is individualized and based on what is observed in his field, it’s a countryside academy, a living lab.
Through educational seminars on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants as part of the "New Agriculture for Generation program", beneficiaries enter the program as farmers and emerge as businessmen creating a new generation of producers more environmentally friendly and equal to profit.
"This work is like taking a child by the hand, holding it for three years, providing it with skills and knowledge, and then letting it go,” Ilias Kalfas, Project Leader “Small Farm Adoption”, American Farm School
While participating in NANG’s Alternative Tourism program at the American Farm School last year, Gerassimos and his friend and fellow Scout Stavros Papadopoulos decided to start a company called Our Way to offer alternative excursions in Chortiatis.
New Agriculture for a New Generation (NANG) welcomed 50 trainers from the American Farm School and the Agricultural University of Athens for its inaugural educational event, "Train the Trainers," held at the Pierion Musses mountain resort over the 12-14 October weekend.