What do the young Greeks Yiannis Papatheodorou, Nikos Kontonikas, Ilias Papanikolaou, Nikos Glossiotis and Andreas Papachristou have in common?
The inner need to leave the urban centres in search of a different way of life in the countryside.
All the men are university graduates with studies and professional careers different from their current occupation. This transition began in 2011, where they began to live and implement physical building workshops.
In this context, they proceeded to purchase some land in Northern Evia.
However, in 2018, KoinSEp Stagones was also created, two more friends were added to their group and thus the activity with pomegranate crops began.
As Yiannis Papatheodorou emphasises, "it is a cooperative scheme with different fields of activity, the cultivation of pomegranates and the processing of pomegranate products, natural construction (structures made of wood, straw and clay), the organisation of educational experiential workshops, as well as the implementation of Erasmus+ programs for young people from all over Europe".
Philosophy, crops and future plans
“We are all environmentally sensitive people and this is a key axis in the way we operate. Most of us live in houses made with natural materials, our crops are in the process of organic certification and the whole way we manage our actions is always done with environmental sensitivity. The estate with the pomegranates is about 25 acres, which we rent, and our cultivation is in the process of organic certification," he said.
"We process our production and make natural pomegranate juice and purified pomegranate in modified atmosphere packaging. Regarding the juice, when we started we were asked to choose the way to preserve it and the choice was finally to freeze it, since in this way we offer the consumer a juice equal to the fresh one. The packaging of our products is done in local packaging so that the fresh product does not travel far. We like to operate locally because this helps the local society and economy," he added.
Regarding the crops, from March to September, all the necessary care takes place and around the middle of October the harvest begins.
This is a small celebration for them, since friends and acquaintances gather and collect the fruits. Afterwards, the fruits to be juiced are sorted and sent to the packaging plant.
Pomegranates are squeezed there. The juice is deep frozen and stored.
From October 2022 they will also have purified pomegranate seeds, as well as vinegar and pomegranate juice.
In addition to all this they have started producing natural watermelon juice. Their goal is to create a range of products with raw materials exclusively from local producers, to support the local community after the natural disasters of recent years.
info: www.stagones.org, 6942 838211, in cooperative ventures, restaurants and food outlets.
Despina Lanou is a regular contributor to Olive Magazine.