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The Organisation of Producers of Sheep and Goat Milk of the Agricultural Cooperative of Mandamados, Lesvos, is made up of 28 livestock farmers, who are all members of the cooperative and have – in large part – farming as their primary occupation. The Organisation of Producers was officially recognised on 30.5.2018, after applying to the North Aegean Region. However, their collective activities involving the collection and processing of milk goes back decades. As early as 1959, livestock farmers in Mandamados joined forces with the aim of jointly managing their product. Every year, the Organisation of Producers collects over 550 tons of sheep and goat milk, which is processed at the cooperative’s cheese dairy and is used to produce the renowned cheese products of Lesvos. Their joint action has also extended to the trade of animal feed, and therefore livestock farmers/members buy their animal feed from the cooperative’s shop. In 2019 the Organisation was one of the 69 organisations and producer groups to have been included in measure 9 of the Rural Development Programme in the field of livestock farming.

Operational programme

The Organisation of Producers has implemented a five-year business plan for the 2018-2023 period, which sets specific goals and describes the means for achieving them so as to ensure the organisation’s sustainability in relation to production, as well as management and processing of sheep and goat milk.

The business plan was approved by Measure 9: “Supporting Producer Groups and Organisations” of the Rural Development Programme, and the main aim is to develop initiatives in the field of product promotion and trade, these products having unique and desirable characteristics due to their being produced on the island and being classified as PDO products (Protected Designation of Origin), thus making them more appealing to consumers. Another key goal is to enhance the collection and sale of the members’ production through investments in suitable building infrastructures and equipment, and also through the provision of the right know-how to members of the Organisation. Lastly, efforts are being made to optimise the cost of production by employing and collaborating with suitable experts, to promote animal welfare standards and to improve producer prices by improving the prices of cheese products.

The measures for achieving the above goals include:

    • improvement of the existing cheese dairy and better organisation of production management so as to achieve economies of scale;
    • increasing actions with a more outward looking approach and improving the trade of produced products.

Cheese dairy

The cheese dairy is the production plant of the producer organisation, where the milk delivered every day by its members is converted into a range of cheese products. The cooperative nature of the organisation ensures that the products derive exclusively from Lesvos milk, which is produced from herds that graze on the island’s vast pastures. The entire production of the organisation’s members is used for processing.

The cheese dairy was included in a Leader programme in order to achieve its modernisation in previous years, and is therefore equipped with state-of-the-art machinery. Furthermore, it is certified to EN ISO 22000 for the health and safety of foods. Also, it runs a shop on the cheese dairy’s premises, from where visitors can buy the cooperative’s products.

mandamados cheese



- Organisation producers -
Apsokardos Nikos
Apsokardos Nikos

Nikos Apsokardos is involved in livestock farming from a very young age, following the family tradition like his father. His sheep belong to the unique Lesvos breed and produce over 80 tons of sheep milk every year. The grazing area is located in the wider mountainous region of Mandamados, at the spectacular ‘Kavakli’ site, which is well known for its unique flora of aromatic herbs, where sheep feed on the island’s flora in order to produce high-quality milk.

He has completed his studies as a cooling installation technician and settled in Mandamados as a young livestock farmer. Father and son share knowledge, experience and… the same sheep shed, which is home to over 500 animals. They practice organic livestock farming and produce organic milk, while they also breed bovine animals for meat production. Apart from milk, they also sell meat to selected butcheries, and renew their herds every year.

Like all inhabitants of Mandamados, Fotis and Nikos love all their animals, but especially the horses and dogs that accompany them while they work

Vasilelis Stylianos
Vasilelis Stylianos

Stylianos Vasilelis comes from a large family of livestock farmers with extensive experience in sheep breeding.

He has a wonderful family with three children and has been working in the field of livestock farming from a young age, following the family tradition. His herd produces over 60 tons of sheep milk per year, a large portion of which is organic, while he also supplies the butcheries in the wider area with prime-quality meat. You will find his animals in the beautiful ‘Kariani’ valley, which is known for its unique flora and fauna, and especially for its bird fauna, which brings thousands of birdwatchers to the area every year. The sheep feed on flora that is rich in aromatic herbs, thus producing the top-quality milk that is used in the dairy products.

Apart from his great dedication to sheep breeding, horses are Stelios’ hobby and he always participates in the village’s feasts as a traditional horseman riding a horse with a beaded headstall (traditionally known as ‘chandrota’).

Matzouranis Stylianos
Matzouranis Stylianos

Stylianos Matzouranis runs a family livestock farm with his wife, Georgia Kouvdi, who has settled in Mandamados with sheep of the Mytilene breed, thus making use of the programme for young farmers.

The farm has over 500 sheep in total and produces over 80 tons of milk every year. Their love for this profession drove them to seek and implement programmes through which they managed to modernise their facilities with milking systems and improve stable conditions for the animals, as well as working conditions. Part of their production is used to produce delicious, home-made ladotyri cheese and traditional trahanas.

Like on many farms in this region of Lesvos, you will find horses and dogs accompanying their sheep.