A Thessaloniki native, Antonis settled down in Lecheo in 2010 when he returned to Greece after he spent several years traveling and working with NGOs in Central and South America on agroecology project development. He rented fruit farms in Assos and Chrisoula, while cultivating an organic vegetable farm next to his living place.
The Koinobio Cooperating farms project started out under the name of Corinthian Orchard when he initiated a solidarity exports operation involving Community-supoprted Agriculture (CSA) groups throughout Europe to help local producers find a market outside of Greece as the economic crisis confined them into a survival mode since 2008. As trust and friendship between a handful of farmers slowly built up and income rose to steady again, the idea of creating a social cooperative evolved from contemplation to implementation, and the cooperative eventually came to light in 2019.
Fully dedicated to organizing and coordinating solidarity export deliveries to participating CSAs, Antonis made it possible for local farmers, most of them older generation individuals, to think out of the box and come to realize another model was possible based on trust, ethics and collaboration.
After his studies in Australia in the 1980s, Vangelis returned to Greece where he took over the management of the family farms in Lecheon, Corinth. Upon continuing the tradition of cultivating conventional produce for a few years, he felt that this method was leading him to a dead end.
Vangelis decided to switch to organic farming in the early 1990s, a decision which proved to be both personally and professionally satisfying and rewarding. During this period he met Panos Manikis and Giannis Varelas who introduced natural farming to Greece and Europe. This was part of the reward. Vangelis participated voluntarily in many events organised by Panos and Giannis, such as sowing clay balls in areas devastated by fire or in school fetes in Lecheon high school as well as other high schools around Greece. Young students were also supported to sow and grow heirloom vegetable and fruit varieties. The aim was for the young to connect traditional knowledge and methods with people’s needs. Every year on Palm Sunday students would distribute the plants to visitors, promoting and disseminating their knowledge to the wider community.
The cultivation of organic produce led Vangelis to the realisation of the deep and interdependent connection between the organic, fertile soil and the human body, mind and soul. This was an unexpected but much appreciated additional reward which resulted in his training in Body Psychotherapy. For the past 12 years Vangelis along with his organic farming, he has been working as a councellor and body psychotherapist as well. He strongly believes in real connections and honest relations between people as the answer to many of the issues that we face in the world today.
Vangelis is one of the founding members of the Organic Farmers’ Markets in Athens (2002) where he acted as a member of the Administrative Board for 8 years.
A strong tempered and principled individual, Vaggelis found his soulmate with Antonis and was at the core of the cooperating farms scheme development.
His farms and vineyards are located in Lecheo.
Giorgios, now in his fifties, is the son of farmers he started working at his family’s farm after graduating high school.
Continuing after his father he went about farming in the conventional way of synthetic pesticides and fertilization.
As time went on he started to really notice the difference between the homegrown vegetables of his youth and the way vegetables were now being produced which lead him to biological cultivation after his meeting with Aris.
His farmlands are located near the village of Assos under the rock of Acrocorinth. There he cultivates lemons, apricots and grapes which are later turned into grape molasses and raisins.
Dimitris is a 65-year-old retired electronician and work for 32 years for the Greek Telecom Company. He has been working on the family fields since he was 7 years old and he continued working them in parallel with his job as an electronician.
Since 2012 Dimitris’ sole occupation has been his orchards in the area of Vocha, consisting of citrus trees, olive trees and avocado trees.
He got into biological cultivation in 1997 after seeing the wells that provided fresh water for his community become polluted from fertilizers. He sees this way of cultivation not only as a way to provided people with produce that have less chemicals that might impact their health but as a way to protect his environment from needless harm.
He met Aris through the certification organization DIO and through Aris he met the other members of Koinobio.
Aris studied agronomy at the Agriculture University of Athens in the 1990s. He was dissatisfied with the message of using plants and animals as if they were machines with the sole purpose of production that was projected by the courses and he became involved in a student group called “Amfiliki” interested in biological cultivation.
After getting his degree he started working for George Foufas, an agronomist with land biologically cultivated near Loutraki, doing all sorts of jobs. Through his work with him he reconnected with old friends from “Amfiliki” leading him to the next step in his journey the inspection and certification organization DIO.
At DIO he worked as an inspector and interacted with a variety of different produce farmers and ways of cultivation. During this time he met Vangelis, Dimitris and Giorgos. In his 8 year stay at DIO he started realizing that farmers needed answers to questions on how to better work the land in a biological way.
His curiosity lead him back to his university books for answers which in turn allowed him to help farmers already in this way of cultivation as well as convince more to start. As a testament to that by the time he left DIO there was a need of 5 inspectors to cover the area his was covering alone at the start of his career. His love for interacting with farmers and the bureaucracy of working as an inspector lead him to leave DIO and join an already successful venture into biological farming called “Viologika Agraktimata”(biological farmlands). Through this he met Antonis. Unfortunately this was right after the 2008 financial crisis and the business went under a couple of years after he joined. After this along with Antonis, Dimitris, Giorgos and Vangelis they start building what is now Koinobio.