Thodoris Sarkatzis left his career in PR to make nut spreads from his ancestral estate

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Nutritious and vegan nut spreads are produced on a semi-mountainous farm in the village of Trilofos in Veria by a family with a long agricultural history in the area and a tradition of peach cultivation.

The Sarkatzis family was one of the first families in the prefecture of Imathia (later followed by others), who, in 2017, forced by the Russian embargo that had already affected the local peach industry, turned their knowledge and interest in a completely different agricultural field: growing and marketing raw nuts.

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"It took me a total of two years to change the crops and switch in an organised way, first to almonds and then to hazelnuts," explains Thodoris Sarkatzis, the producer of Agroktima Sarkatzis products.

Until then, he managed his ancestral estates as an amateur and as an extra income to his already established career as a private employee in a large company (he studied Public Relations and Communication).

"My father, a shoemaker by profession, used the 30 acres of land that belonged to his family to secure an additional source of income through peaches and because he always liked rural life. That's how I grew up, too. I was on the estates from age six and caring for our trees," he added.

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But what made Thodoris choose to cultivate almonds and hazelnuts and abandon his professional life?

"The neighbouring field on our property that was full of almond trees belonged to a friend of mine who lived and worked abroad," he explains. "Every year, therefore, he entrusted me with the harvesting—but also the general cultivation care—of his almonds, and like this, little by little, I was able to become familiar with the requirements of the specific trees and appreciated them to the extent to use these crops."

"And then the idea of ​​the hazelnut was born to me, which from the beginning hid risks, as it did not exist at all as a crop in the wider area of ​​the prefecture, so we did not even know if it would thrive. The first hazelnut trees we planted were shrubs, but from then on, our knowledge led us to prefer trees now, as they are easier to manage," Thodoris explained.

The nut spreads that have driven the Greeks of the diaspora crazy

Since Thodorishad had his own family, he decided it was time - and business-wise - to go one step further and turn to healthy snacks.

"When the raw material was available, and in fact in excellent quality and abundance, the thought of entering the process of producing nut butter not only seemed good but also enough for me to immediately start the tests," the PR graduate said.

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The first and best tests were done by his son, who is six years old. As his son is a fanatical fan of chocolate, he started to make his own praline.

And he did wisely, as the hazelnut praline, with just three ingredients (70% hazelnut, dark chocolate, and honey), is one of his most popular products.

This, as well as the other products of Agroktima Sarkatzis, are today very popular through the e-shop in every corner of Europe where there are Greeks, especially in Germany and Sweden, where most orders are made.

"What consumers appreciate, at home and abroad," observes Thodoris, "is that our products are free of additives. In other words, they have no preservatives, sugar, salt, or added oils."

Apart from the chocolate that is added to some products, the sweetener used is exclusively honey, which, as Thodoris informed me, is supplied by his father-in-law. This amateur beekeeper has beehives in Siatista Kozani.

"In February," he informed me, "he brings the bees to the estate with the almond trees for pollination and then returns them up the mountain into the oak trees. It is clean, pure honey."

Hazelnut or almond?

The mosaic of flavours that unfolds through the shelves of the Sarkatzis Farm online store divides the butter into three categories: in the first, almond is the star with six products; in the second with four products, hazelnut, while there is another category that combines both of these fruits.

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On the other hand, we are given the opportunity to choose between different textures: buttery soft, with a velvety, creamy texture, or crunchy, with coarsely ground almonds or hazelnuts.

If you are a chocolate fan, your appetite will clearly direct you to pralines made with dark chocolate. If you work out and love fitness nutrition programs, almond butter with extra vegetable soy protein will easily find its place in your kitchen cupboard.


Loukia Chrysovitsanou is a columnist for Cantina. Translated by Paul Antonopoulos

READ MORE: Relocating To Theodorio: The couple who left Thessaloniki to live in the "Wild West" of Serres.

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