A most interesting lemony fragrance
Collecting our seeds, the end of an old and the beginning of a new life circle.
Chamomile, the purest and the most calming touch of nature.
A small team of dedicated individuals headed by Kostas Papazoglou has transformed into work their love for the Earth, their desire to preserve nature and its plant life, their longing to create within an environment close to their hearts. This endeavor took the name “drogi”, an ancient Greek word referring to the plant-based raw material used in drug manufacturing, which became the remedy that captured the team’s creative imagination and a balm for the mind and the soul of those interested by the products.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE MAN
WHO STARTED IT ALL
In the 1970s, VAROFYT S.A a large peppermint export company, to which many local manufacturers provided their products, operated out of the northern Greek town of Komotini. “Uncle George”, as he is affectionately known, coordinated the entire production procedure that included the sowing, the cultivation, the irrigation and the harvesting. The world of aromatic plants became his vital space, into which he eagerly immersed himself and which inspired him in order to continue cultivating, experimenting and producing even after the company had closed down. In 2001, he began to grow exclusively organic aromatic plants, which he sold in the Greek town of Komotini in various forms (e.g. fresh bunches, or dried and packaged in small jars etc.). In 2004, he meets Kostas.
Agronomist, researcher, consultant on organic farming and food quality and safety systems, Kostas meets Giorgos Ereliadis, a local farmer with a longstanding experience in the systematic cultivation and drying of herbs dating back to the 1970s. This “salt of the earth” farmer, who is widely recognized as an expert in his field, becomes a source of inspiration and mentor for Kostas, who apprentices to him for years. “Uncle George” shows a father-to-son affection to Kostas, regarding him as a successor, as someone to carry on his life’s work and passion and reveals to him the secrets of his trade. Kostas enthusiastically absorbs this knowledge and gets inspired by the care and tenderness with which his teacher handles the herbs. In 2011, he takes the plunge and decides to set up his own company, “drogi”, a low-intensity, small-scale operation with a high-intensity, large-scale taste, aroma and nutritional value.
AND THEN THERE WAS “DROGI”
The following years, the company became even more specialized in the varieties it grew while maintaining the unparalleled quality which constitutes a source of pride and satisfaction.
Today, “Uncle George” is an integral part of this small, unified team and with his inexhaustible humor and tenacity continues testing different herb varieties and new farming methods, still very astute, still ingenious, still younger at heart and more tireless than the rest of the team.
THE SECRET INGREDIENT OF “drogi”
The proven health benefits of “drogi- organic herbs” are due to the fact that they are offered not in ground form, but in whole leaf, flower or root form, which means that none of their precious components is lost or weakened on the way to processing and that full flavor, aroma and essence remain intact.
Packaging, was meticulously chosen in order to seal in the taste, the aroma, as well as the beneficial properties of the herbs it contains. We consider this feature to play an essential role in maintaining “drogi” herbs’ unparalleled quality.
Harvesting techniques and packaging methods make “drogi’s” products incomparable, as a hot drink or cold refreshment results ideal for your well-being. Those methods enrich the taste and the nutritional values of foods and they spread the flavor, the aroma and the essence to a hot tea or refreshing homemade infusion. Let “drogi-organic herbs” lead you to a new world of flavor and pleasure, hidden, as always, in the smallest details which nevertheless, make the biggest differences in life…
Kostas PapazoglouAgronomist, Production & Quality Control Manager
Ioanna PapazoglouCreative Support
With a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and a Master’s in Environmental Management, Kostas has worked as an agronomist, as well as consultant on organic farming and food quality and safety systems, supporting the agricultural production sector in the prefecture of Rodopi, in northern Greece. Driven by his desire to serve nature with respect, he worked the land hand-in-hand with “Uncle George”: Giorgos Ereliadis, the farmer who had been dedicated to medicinal and aromatic plants back in the 1970s and who toiled to cultivate them organically in an era when “aromatic plants” and “organic farming” were alien terms, let alone a professional occupation. Kostas apprenticed to him for 7 years, by sowing, cultivating, harvesting and drying. Gradually the idea of “drogi”, a small-scale production unit whose qualitative value and environmental contribution would be in the core of its philosophy, started to emerge.
“My friendship with Uncle George, a man who has devoted more than 30 years of his life to the reproduction, cultivation and processing of herbs, and the subsequent 7-year apprenticeship on his side, gave birth to the idea of continuing the path that he began carving out”.
In 2011, Kostas established “drogi- organic herbs”, a personal dream for environmentally-pioneering agricultural development that quickly captured the attention of his closest people. He works using his knowledge and experience at the field where knowledge is being put into action, playing his own role to maintain natural balance and to promote and utilize the most of natural goods.
“Drogi is my version of a small-scale vertically-integrated organic herb production process”.
Devoted to the principles and rules of organic cultivation, he produces 20 organic herbs with high nutritional and health benefits and is involved in every stage of their production; from sowing to packaging. He is constantly expanding his knowledge, in order to produce safe, high-quality, certified medicinal and aromatic plants, whose production process is of no burden to the environment.
“From sowing to harvesting and from drying to packaging, for all aromatic plants it is of paramount importance that intervention is the minimal, without any ecological footprint, and quality produced of the highest possible standards”.
“Ioanna offers a lot and she is always willing to do even more”: that is what anyone would say about Ioanna’s role at “drogi”. She has assumed the role of the photographer, by capturing superb professional shots; she contributes to the production procedure by helping in tenderly removing leaves from herb stalks and then helping in the packaging as well. She also participates in those completely different activities with a sincere willingness to do whatever needs to be done.
“I really like the idea of “drogi”, and that is why I am here doing whatever I can to help Kostas, feeling proud to be his sister. I wholeheartedly support him because I know that whatever he does is the outcome of love and of a deep sense of responsibility”.
Ioanna was born in Komotini. She studied Business Administration in Athens and then returned to her hometown, where she works today. In 2013, she took photography seminars, as she was eager to learn the secrets of an art form that had fascinated her for years. Quite spontaneously and without second thoughts, she began using her photography skills for “drogi”, capturing in her shots not only what she saw, but her feelings for the land, the people working on it, the production process and of course, the aromatic plants.
Angeliki was born in Athens. She studied the Law at Democritus University of Thrace in Komotini, where she works as an attorney today. Kostas’ life partner, she was touched by in his passion for the earth, she was inspired by it and found in “drogi” the pleasure offered by a creativity which is inherent in the production process.
“Drogi- organic herbs are a “fragrant” touch of the daily life which enticed me into moving here, far from my hometown of Athens”.
She works passionately for “drogi” and could go on discussing and analyzing it for hours –a characteristic which mirrors her general approach to everything that excites her – and contributes her talents to the vital promotion and communication of the products that Kostas works with on a daily basis in the fields.
“The production process is fascinating, though it requires technical know-how and physical fatigue, so I leave it in the hands of the experts and work on other fields that I know better”.
He introduces himself as an earth-servant. Uncle George Ereliadis is a source of inspiration for “drogi” through his wisdom and his sense of humor.
During the 1970’s he used to work at a big peppermint export company. He was responsible for the coordination of the production process. More specifically, he coordinated the sowing, the cultivation, the watering as well as the harvesting procedure. In 2001 he took an entrepreneurial step for that time, the organic sowing. Apart from bunches of aromatic plants that he used to sell in the Greek town of Komotini, he also dried the herbs and packaging them into jars under the brand name “Bioerel” (a combination of the word biologic and his surname).
He met Kostas Papazoglou in 2004 and gradually a friendship has blossomed into them, which finally shaped a common professional course.
After six years of active cooperation, Uncle George has practically ceded his post to his apprentice cherishing the hope that he will continue and he will develop even further his personal dream, “drogi”. Although currently a pensioner, he is still present at the field, experimenting on his beloved domain, the aromatic plants.
“For us, organic farming is an act of consciousness, as well as a genuine political act. It is the result of the sense of responsibility we feel towards our beliefs as well as towards the people who trust us”.
DEVOTED TO ORGANIC FARMING STANDARDS
VERTICALLY INTEGRATED PRODUCTION PROCESS
Our work begins at the field. Maintaining soil balance is the core of our way of thinking. In order to implement it, we cultivate our herbs using all farming techniques necessary towards that end but with the least use of machine labor.
Harvesting is done exclusively by hand, and in a way that guarantees that instead of cutting the entire plant, only the ripe plant parts are collected from each herb variety. In the shortest possible time frame, the quantities harvested are subsequently transported to the sorting facility, where a second, handling cycle begins, primary of which is the defoliation stage.
During this stage we separate the leaves or the flowers from the stem. This procedure, which is basically the only processing which takes place, is done scrupulously by hand in order to prevent the herb degradation from the mechanical use.
And then there is drying, a natural process, during which and under the right conditions, the majority of the moisture contained in the recently harvested herbs is removed. Drying takes place using cutting-edge technology. More specifically, using an electronically controlled herb dryer we manage to monitor all critical parameters, including knowledge of special characteristics and requirements which vary from herb to herb.
After the necessary moisture control and a final sorting process, the newly-dried herbs are packaged in an airtight pouch and stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.
At “drogi”, we consider a duty to produce responsibly, without any environmental burden, and we are proud of our small scale production process with limited intensity, which leaves the least ecological footprint.
- All solid organic waste by-products resulting from the production process are composted, while all solid recyclable waste products (including plastic and paper among others) are recycled.
- We apply the method of trickle irrigation, thus safeguarding that we consume the least possible quantity of water.
- We mainly use biodegradable, recyclable or recycled materials.