The study area is the regional department of Imathia (NUTS 3), in the region of Central Macedonia, Northern Greece. It consists of 12 municipalities 1,703 km2 and 136,147 inhabitants. Two major municipalities, Veria (43,000 inh) and Naousa (21,000 inh). The former is the administratve center and the later is the economic center.

The textile industry that used to be an important part of the economy of the area lost went into serious decline creating a significant unemployment problem, (the unemployment rate was 13% in 2001 that was then well above the national average). Almost one third of the active population is employed in agriculture, while more than 45% work at the service sector.

The Imathia region is the main peach producing area in Greece. Peach tree cultivation expanded to areas previously cultivated with other tree crops like cherry, sour cherry, pear, apple etc. Irrigated crops like peach tree, cherry, pear, apple trees as well as cotton, corn and sugar beet, illustrate the picture of an intensive agricultural model. Currently vast areas are covered with peach tree monoculture while in the mountain feet vineyards for wine are located.

Agricultural holdings in Imathia amount to 17,446 (2001 census). Farms in the plain areas have an average size of 3.7 ha while in semi mountainous and mountainous areas the average size descends to 2.1 ha). It is indicative that almost 85% of farms cultivate less than 5 ha and they cover less than half the area (47%). In addition crop land is quite fragmented, with an average of almost 4 parcels per holding, resulting to an average parcel size of 0.8 ha. The percentage of farms with peach trees under 5 ha was 97% covering the 88% of the area while the average permanent crop area per holding was 1.6 ha. Irrigated crops accounted for 93% of the area. Although the prevailing orientation is crop production, an important bovine meat production exists, mainly at the mountainous areas, with 471 holdings and more than 25.000 LU, constituting thus Imathia as one of the main bovine meat areas in Greece, while sheep and goats as well as pig breeding are not insignificant.

Rural areas in Imathia exhibit significant diversification. The plain areas are mainly producing annual irrigated crops and the peach production is mainly for industrial processing; livestock is oriented towards dairy cattle, sheep and pigs. On the contrary, semi mountainous and mountainous areas specialize in peach production for fresh consumption and winegrapes in the vineyards (depending on the altitude and the relief), as well as in livestock production, mainly bovine meat and goats.