"Switch was necessary for the continuation of the company"

New generation of Greek organic growers

30 year old Nikos Koutsodimos would be a perfect model for the new generation of organic growers in Greece. The former Wageningen UR (Master Organic Agriculture) student speaks excellent English and gladly tells interested parties about how he works and why he consciously chose the organic way of working. Nikos has been around orchards from a young age. In 2010 he took over his father's company. This company is located in Gastouni (Peloponnesos) and was founded by his grandfather, who was specialised in raisins. He grew them next to his house, where Nikos now lives.


Nikos reveals more about the oranges in the orchard.

Nikos grows organic kiwis, oranges (Valencia's) and mandarins, amongst other things. During the visit to the citrus orchard (October 18th) it was clear that the citrus fruits still needed some cold nights to ripen more and produce their recognisable orange colour. The kiwis in the orchard next to Niko's house were almost ready to harvest. Nikos expects the harvest yield of mandarins to double this year. The yield for oranges will be lower. "This compensates nicely," says Nikos.


The yellow glow was already visible on the 18th of October.

The grower has also planted various new trees in the orchard, but he is not satisfied with this. Nikos is happiest with the kiwis. He grows the Hayworth variety. "This variety does well here. A lot of kiwis are or a good size." Various kiwi trees in Nikos orchard are already 30 years old. "To grow more the trees need support." 


A bunch of kiwis.

Organic

The friendly Nikos (the group was even allowed to take a look in his house) indicated that he couldn't help but choose the organic way of working. His father is an agronomist and grew conventionally for a long time. "My father made money from regular cultivation. It was clear to me from the start that I wanted to do it differently from my father."


Nikos' house.

Eventually the company switched to organic cultivation under the control of his father. "My father was sick of the conventional way of working in the 90s. To ensure the continued existence of his company he decided to switch. In 1995 the company made the change. Organic had more economic value back then, and there were less costs attached, as we no longer had to buy chemicals."



Nikos admits that the first two or three years as an organic grower were difficult. "After that the trees started to perform well and stably. The quality of the trees has improved considerably over the years due to the organic way of growing. The trees are now very strong and so very suitable for organic cultivation." He recognises that the organic way of working involves a lot. "You have to think about everything and take it all into consideration. It sometimes gives me a headache, but it's what I've chosen to do, as I am an organic grower in Greece," Nikos concludes cheerily.


The kiwi trees


These oranges still needed some cold nights.


One of the orange trees in the sun drenched orchard.


These kiwis are actually processing too much sunlight.


There are also various olive trees in the orchard.


Olives close up.

For more information: www.bionetwesthellas.gr/en or ask Eosta about this grower and his products at www.eosta.com.

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