- The Agricultural Cooperative Rachis Pierias “O AGIOS LOUKAS” was founded in 1978 to initially operate as an administrative committee whose object was to create a cherry orchard for its members.
- In cooperation with the local departments of the Prefecture in 1979-80, the Cooperative launched a pilot project involving the planting of a cherry orchard of 350 thousand square meters, which offered to the Cooperative a prize that was given by the Ministry of Agriculture.
This pilot project was very successful and the entire area became known on account of the new and dynamic product, the product’s quality and the cooperative nature of the particular cultivation. Until 1990 the entire annual crop – 300 to 450 tons of cherries – was allocated to exports in Europe, which improved the country’s foreign trade balance.
- In 1991 the A.C. Rachis Pierias “O AGIOS LOUKAS” was officially incorporated as an entity of ad hoc joint agricultural cooperative. In 1994-95 and in the framework of an investment plan under Leader I, the Cooperative built a sorting/refrigeration unit of 600 sq. meters which featured two refrigeration chambers for a total storage capacity of 200 tons
In 2007 the Cooperative was granted preliminary recognition as a Producers’ Organization with the designation P.O. Rachis Pierias “O AGIOS LOUKAS” with the aim to carry out a 4-year investment plan of 3,7 million Euros. The investment was involved the expansion of the building installations, the modernization of the cooling chambers, the installation of a Hydrocooler, and the installation of an electronic sorting line per size and color of cherries (GP Graders/Australia). The capacity of this equipment is 3 tons per hour. Also, the investment plan included the replacement of old cherry trees and the installation of a modern system for the protection of the trees from torrential rain. The new investment not only maintained but also increased the quality of the product, offered new capabilities for standardization, improved the organization of production, increased the Cooperative’s turnover and made this blessed region popular with visitors in the broader area.
Today the A.C Rachis Pierias “O AGIOS LOUKAS” numbers over 200 members while its orchard has been expanded to 3000 thousand sq. meters, of which 2500 are cultivated with cherry trees, 300 with apricots and the rest with apples. Each year, old trees are replaced by new ones, according to plans, while new cultivars are also planted (e.g., Burlat, Sweet Aryanna, Grace Star, Lapins, Ferrovia). These cultivars are distinguished for their quality characteristics and increased yield.
Rachi is located at an altitude of 250 meters above sea level, in the center of the Prefecture of Pieria, SW of Katerini, and is one of the settlements in the Lofos area of Municipality of Katerini. As its name denotes, it is built on a ground formation which resembles a saddle between Mount Olympus south and the Pieria Range west. Its population is 450 inhabitants and is located at a distance of 16 km from the town of Katerini.
The local subsistence is based exclusively on agriculture. Reclamation works have improved the soil and increased production; consequently, people have chosen to stay home. Rachi has a name in arboriculture, especially in the cultivation of cherry trees. It is the home of two Cherry Associations whose products are distributed throughout Greece and in many other countries abroad.
The main church is dedicated to Saint Apostle and Evangelist Luke. Just a few kilometers outside the village stands the church of Saint Constantine and an adjacent cemetery. At Rachi there is an Elementary School with excellent building installations. The cultural association of Rachi, “Ta Patria”, has a notable presence in visual arts, also in theater the “The Rachi Troupe” and own dance group. It was established in 1977 and since then it organizes a series of events to honour its patron saint – St. Luke – in October. The events last for a few days and are also known by the name “TaPatria”. The Sports & Education Association goes by the name “Apollon Rachis”, a football club, and is listed in League C’ Amateurs Football and competes locally with other FCs of the prefecture of Pieria.
Regarding cultivation, production, standardization and marketing of the “AGIOS LOUKAS” Cooperative cherries, which marked are marketed under the brand name “CHERRIES FROM RACHI OLYMPUS”, the policy of the Cooperative is to show full respect to the producer, the consumer and the environment.
President: Dimitrios G. Ntouros
Vice-president: Apostolos A. Patsios
Secretary: Georgios X. Papageorgiou
Cashier: Ilias D. Katsamagkas
Member: Georgios K. Ntouros