ABOUT AFS
ABOUT AFS
Fast Facts
Background Information

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.  

Education

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.

Farm Products

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. 

Timeline
1894
Dr. John Henry House and Susan Adeline Beers House arrive in Thessaloniki from the
missionary teaching posts they had held since 1870 in Samokov, Bulgaria.
 
1901
Kidnapping and ransoming of American missionary Ellen Stone and Madame Tsilka.  
 
1902
Dr. House purchases 50 acres of barren land 10 kilometers southeast of Thessaloniki,
plants 400 mulberry trees, drills a 55-meter well and hires the first employee, a
gardener.
 
1904
Thessalonica Agricultural & Industrial Institute (soon to be known as the American
Farm School or Farm School) is incorporated in the State of New York as a registered
charity with the mission to educate the local population in the skills needed to succeed
in farming. 
 
1911
First graduating class.
 
1918
The American Farm School is recognized by the government of Greece as an 
institution offering a 5-year program of education and training to boys 15 years and older.
 
1922
Asia Minor Disaster and Population Exchange.  Smryna refugee Thedoros Litsas
arrives.  Construction of Princeton Hall, the “Parthenon” of the Farm School, begins. 
 
1926
Charles Lucius House (son of and successor to the founder) is awarded the Silver 
Cross of the Order of the Phoenix by the Greek government.
 
1932
Charles Lucius House is awarded the Gold Cross of the Order of the Savior by the
Greek government.
 
1932
The American Farm School is awarded the Silver Medal of the Academy of Athens.
 
1935
Fresh, pasteurized milk is introduced to Greece with the opening of a pasteurizing and 
bottling plant to distribute American Farm School milk to market.
 
1941
American Farm School closes; campus requisitioned by Axis forces.
 
1942
Charles Lucius House and Ann Kellogg House deported to Liebenau and Ilag 
VII/Laufen concentration camps.
 
1945
Reconstruction and reopening of the Farm School.
 
1946
Founding of the Girls School (official name: Quaker Domestic Training School).
 
1949
Senior class kidnapped by andartes band.
 
1955
Bruce McKay Lansdale becomes third president of the School.
 
1962
Bruce McKay Lansdale is awarded the Gold Cross of the Order of the Savior by the 
Greek government.
 
1978      
American Farm School adopts officially recognized Greek state 
curricula of Technical Vocational High School and Technical Vocational School.
 
1986
Bruce McKay Lansdale is awarded the Commander of the Order of Honor by the 
Greek government.
 
1989  
George Draper becomes the fourth president of the School.
 
1996  
Dimitris Perrotis College of Agricultural Studies is founded.
 
1998  
Department of Lifelong Learning is created.
 
1999             
David Buck becomes the fifth president of the School.
 
2001  
Academy of Athens awards the School for “the education it provides rural youth and
for its contribution to the rural development of Greece since 1904.”
 
2004
American Farm School celebrates its Centennial (1904-2004).
 
2004
Manuel Stefanakis becomes the sixth president of the School.
 
2005
William W. McGrew becomes the seventh president of the School.
 
2006
New curricula for a General High School, Technical High School, and Vocational
School begin operation in the Secondary Program.
 
2007                 
Perrotis College of Agriculture, Environment and Life Sciences expands to a BSc (Hons) course of study.
 
2009
Dr. Panos Kanellis becomes the eighth president of the School.
 
2010
Opening of Educational Dairy and Milk Processing Training Center.
Opening of the Aliki Perroti Student Residence.
 
2011    
Founding of the Primary School (Thessaloniki Schools for Experiential Learning) at
the American Farm School to offer environmental education through experiential
learning from Preschool through the 6th grade.    
 
2012    
Founding of the Center for Agricultural Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
 
2013                
Opening of the Aliki Perroti Research Laboratories at Perrotis College.
 
2013                
Opening of the Perrotis College Krinos Olive Center.  
 
2014
Perrotis College offers a one year certificate program in Greek titled “Contemporary 
Agricultural Practices” for high school graduates.     
 
2016
Founding of the School of Professional Education and the Strategic Project 
Management Office.
                          
The American Farm School Creed
I believe in a permanent agriculture, in a soil that grows richer, rather than poorer, from year to year.
I believe in living not for self, but for others, so that future generations may not suffer on account of my farming methods.
I believe that tillers of the soil are stewards of the land and will be held accountable for the faithful performance of their trust.
I am proud to be a farmer and will try to be worthy of the name.
 
Dr. John Henry House (circa 1910)
 
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