Gerasimos Karantinos

BioNet West Hellas

Hi, I'm Gerasimos Karantinos and together with 26 other growers we cultivate organic kiwi's, oranges, grapefruits and other citrus fruits in Greece.

 I am the founder and president of BioNet West Hellas, an association of organic growers in western Greece. Most of our growers are located in the provinces of Aetolia-Acarnania on the north side of the Gulf of Corinth and Achaea and Ilia on the south side. Like most of Greece, western Greece is a mountainous region, but it enjoys an abundance of rivers, lakes and other wetlands. I hope you enjoy our fruit!

The area is known for a typical Mediterranean climate - with hot summers and mild winters - which makes it ideal for the cultivation of citrus fruit. In its different soil types and micro-climates, other crops such as olive, kiwi, tomatoes, melon and, of course, Greek honey and wine are grown with equal success. We employ seven trained agronomists who assist our growers with organic practices.

Most of our growers operate small farms of between 5 and 25 hectares. Many of them changed to organic agriculture methods in the 1990’s when BioNet West Hellas was founded. Since citrus fruit is an important export crop, packing and shipping facilities were established in the port town of Patra, less than an hour away from the associated growers. The region is interspersed with rugged mountain ranges and extended natural forests which provide shelter for several species of rare birds and mammals. 

About taste and quality:
"Our oranges, after collection, are washed with pure water only and dried with air. We don't spray any chemicals on them so they are safe to eat including the peel! You can definitely use them for baby food, if you like."

 

Interview with Gerasimos Karantinos
N&M: What motivated you to set up BioNet West Hellas in 1998? 
Gerasimos: When chemical agricultural production finally reached western Greece in the 1980’s, many growers adopted this “new approach” to farming.  The result was  the reckless use of pesticides in the 1990’s and many illnesses and even some deaths.  We also noticed that the chemical runoff from farms did devastating damage to our beautiful lakes, rivers and the aquifer which meant that the groundwater was no longer safe to drink in some instances.  Growers realized that something had to change but did not want to go back to the old methods.  That was when we started doing our research and conducting workshops and seminars about organic farming. That led to the establishment of BioNet West Hellas.  The fact that we have since grown into such a large organization shows that we are indeed responding to an important need.  

N&M: What does organic farming mean to you personally?
Gerasimos: To me it means the respect and protection of both the environment and people.   Both need to remain healthy.  Organic farming is an attitude, a way of approaching your fellow man and the environment in an open, friendly and collaborative manner.  I do not assume that nature only exists to satisfy the desires of the human race.  I consider myself a steward of the land, which means that I have a responsibility to farm it sustainably for generations to come.  The environment in which we live represents a natural-cultural unit within which we work.

 

N&M: How does this manifest in practice? 
Gerasimos: Very simple: Our region is hardly suitable to large-scale commercial farming.  As a result most of our members are small-scale operators.  They cultivate soil and even vine stocks and trees that have been in the family for several generations.  Some were chosen according to the families’ preferences; others over the years have been adapted to their soil type and climate conditions.  Our growers frequently integrate animals as an important element of organic farming.  Thus it is not unusual to see sheep and chickens grazing in the orchards. They keep weeds in check and control undesirable insects and other pests.

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1 Cent for the Future

I’d like to thank you for purchasing my organic citrus! With every purchase  you are making a direct contribution to improving the lives of young adults with special needs here in Greece. Greece’s recent economic woes have impacted every aspect of life. Funding and donations to many important social causes and programs have slowed considerably. The Halcyon Association of Parents & Friends of People with Disabilities is one such program. You are directly supporting this project, because for every kg of organic citrus sold at least € 0,01 will go directly to Halycon. The funds will go to training Halcycon employees and volunteers so that they can help these young adults. The goal is to ultimately prepare and train these wonderful people, so that they are able to live with some level of independence. Thanks for making a real difference in these people’s lives. Efkharisto! Gerasimos Karantinos

What am I growing?

Geolocation is 38.368972, 21.43073400000003

Sustainability flower

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Where to find?

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