After 30 years of service in the Balkans, enlightened American educator Dr. John Henry House and his wife, Susan Adeline, founded the American Farm School in 1904 on the outskirts of Thessaloniki. The city’s major port facilities and newly opened railroad gave access to villages in the hinterland whose population the new institution was intended to serve. The first students were boys orphaned in one of the many uprisings marking the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in Europe.
Dr. House was known as being a “practical idealist,” dedicated to “educating the whole individual: the head, the hands, the heart.” Practical training in field and garden crops, vineyards and orchards, livestock and silkworm production, and in industrial skills such as carpentry, masonry and blacksmithing, equipped American Farm School graduates to succeed in farming and -- in time --to aid in the economic development of rural Greece. Modest donations of funds and equipment from a small circle of supporters in the U.S. helped the institution to survive through its early years, as it bore witness to two Balkan Wars, World War I and the massive resettlement in Greece of refugees from Asia Minor. The 1930s, a period of expanding academic facilities and bringing the latest agricultural innovations to Greece, gave way to World War II and Occupation; to the ensuing civil war (and the kidnapping by guerillas of the entire senior class); and to the constant efforts during the postwar decades to improve the quality of agricultural education the School offered to the rural population.
Faced with demand for higher education aimed at careers in the life sciences, food technology, agriculture and management of natural resources, the American Farm School established the Perrotis College of Agriculture, Environment and Life Sciences in 1996, with a gift from Mrs. Aliki Perroti in memory of her late husband Dimitris Perrotis. The English language curriculum serves an international student body with innovative specializations leading to a BSc (Hons) degree that is validated by the Cardiff Metropolitan University, UKand recognized worldwide. As of 2013 Perrotis College also offers a one year certificate program in Greek titled “Contemporary Agricultural Practices” for high school graduates. The Center for Agricultural Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the American Farm School, operated under the direction of Perrotis College, opened in September 2012, and the Perrotis College Krinos Olive Center began operation in 2013.
Recognizing that children who are close to nature at an early age are better prepared for responsible global citizenship toward the environment as they mature, the School founded a Primary School on its campus in September 2011, focused on environmental education through experiential learning.
With its ethos of service, innovative approaches to education, impressive graduates, and more than one hundred years of uninterrupted operation in its host country, the American Farm School is considered a catalyst for constructive change in the region.
The American Farm School of Thessaloniki, Greece, is an independent, nonprofit educational institution founded in 1904 to serve the population of Greece and the Balkans. Major educational divisions include the Primary School, High School, School of Professional Education and the Perrotis College of Agriculture, Environment and Life Sciences. The School prepares its graduates for prominent roles in community life and for varied careers in agriculture, science and the food industry by teaching agricultural and business practices that are economically viable, ecologically sound and socially responsible. The School’s founder, Dr. John Henry House, was a practical idealist who believed in educating the whole individual: the head, the hands and the heart. After more than a century of implementing the founder’s vision, the American Farm School today remains dedicated to the dynamic fusion of theory and practice in all levels of agricultural and life science education that has become the institution’s hallmark.
The historic Secondary School core program, operating since 1904, offers girls and boys from throughout Greece an accredited general high school education with an innovative afternoon program focusing on practical skills in a full range of agricultural, technical and ecological subjects. Most students live in campus dormitories and all students follow an extracurricular program that reinforces strong traditions in both Greek and American cultures.
The Perrotis College of Agriculture, Environment and Life Sciences, founded in 1996, educates leaders for sustainable development in Greece, throughout southeastern Europe, and beyond. The English language curriculum leading to the BSc (Hons) degree prepares graduates for management positions in life sciences, food technology, agriculture, and preservation of natural resources. As of 2013 Perrotis College also offers a one year certificate program in Greek titled “Contemporary Agricultural Practices” for high school graduates. The Center for Agricultural Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the American Farm School, operated under the direction of Perrotis College, opened in September 2012, and the Perrotis College Krinos Olive Center began operation in 2013.
The American Farm School has been dedicated to educating adults in skills they need to succeed since its founding a century ago. Today the School of Professional Education offers short courses, seminars, workshops and conferences for both urban and rural adults to transfer the vital knowledge and skills necessary for sustainable development in Greece and the surrounding region. In September 2011, the Primary School opened, focusing on environmental education through experiential learning.
The Dimitris & Aliki Perrotis Libraryserves every facet of education through its collection of books, periodicals, electronic resources and web-based applications.
All educational and research programs at the American Farm School are supported by the large-scale Educational Farm that includes the Holstein Friesian dairy herd that is ranked among the top 10% in the world; a poultry unit using the latest research for Omega 3 egg, broiler and turkey production; greenhouses; vegetable gardens; vineyards; fruit and olive trees; and extensive field crops at its satellite farm to the west of Thessaloniki.
The American Farm School of Thessaloniki became known for its milk shortly after its founding in 1904. Students delivered milk from the School’s first Guernsey cows to the Red Cross station operating at the port of Thessaloniki, for distribution to refugee families from the Balkan Wars and from World War I and its aftermath in Asia Minor. In 1935, the School introduced fresh pasteurized cow’s milk to Greece by opening the first milk pasteurizing and bottling plant. Applying U.S. dairy breeding and management practices over the decades, the School today has aHolstein Friesian dairy herd that is ranked among the top 10% in the world. A state-of-the-art Educational Dairy and Milk Processing Training Center opened on campus in 2010 allowing introduction of innovative new dairy products in addition to the fresh pasteurized whole milk that is prized as the best in Greece. Light milk (1.5% fat) and traditional Greek yogurt have entered the Greek market as of 2012 and other new milk-based products are under development.
Staff and students working in the poultry unit of the School’s Educational Farm are responsible for the production of eggs for retail sale. All American Farm School eggs are the Omega-3 egg, developed through joint Aristotle University-American Farm School research in the early 1990s, and introduced to the Greek consumer in 1997 – making it the first Omega 3 egg to enter the Greek market. The diet American Farm School hens are fed contains a percentage of flaxseed (linseed) that results in eggs that contain lower levels of cholesterol, and are rich in the Omega 3 fatty acids. American Farm School turkeys and broilers are also fed linseed and aromatic plants of Mediterranean flora that result in Omega 3 fatty acid contentand delicate flavor, characteristics that are highly appreciated by consumers.
Beloved by Athenians and Thessalonikians alike are the fresh turkeys raised by the staff and students of the American Farm School, available during Thanksgiving week in November, and during the two weeks prior to Christmas. The School introduced fresh turkeys to the Greek market in the 1970s. Today, consumers continue to benefit from the American Farm School’s ongoing research programs in poultry nutrition and meat quality. Sold fresh seasonally, these turkeys earn highest marks with consumers in terms of freshness, appearance, taste and nutritional value. In April 2013, the Educational Farm, in partnership with one of the leaders of Greece’s agrofood industry, introduced a new product to the Greek delicatessen market: finest quality smoked turkey cold cuts made exclusively from American Farm School turkeys.
Traditional Greek pasta products “hilopites” and “trachanas”, made from hard durum wheat raised on the School’s Educational Farm, the School’s fresh pasteurized milk and the School’s Omega 3 eggs, entered the specialty shops and supermarkets of Athens and Thessaloniki in 2011, and as of 2013, other wheat-based food products are under development by the farm’s horticulture department.
American Farm School students take an active part in all dairy, poultry and horticulture production, as they do in the School’s Educational Vineyard and Winery that is known for the excellence of its traditional Greek Xinomavro red varietal wine as well as its “tsipouro,” a Greek distillate from grapes. Students also produce and market quantities of broilers, winter and summer vegetables, legumes such as lentils and chickpeas, rice, aromatic plants, olive oil and honey, as well as fresh cut flowers including lilies, tulips, anemones and freesias.