Natural resources magaziNe
from fiNlaNd _ 2.2008
The 9 lives
18_ one hundred
hecTares of soliTude
44_ free To roam
Finland has never made it in
a big way on the international
soccer scene. The short
playing season goes some
way towards explaining the
fact that current FIFA ranking
of the blue and white national
team is 43. But the virtuosos
of more southern latitudes are
well advised against taking
the Finns on in their own
element. Cover the filed with
a layer of snow and the local
lights bend it like Beckham.
Snow soccer World Championships
are held annually in Lapland,
Ukkohalla, above lake Syväjärvi.
PhoTo By joUnI keToLA
The southernmost point on Finland’s
fancy that! mainland is at 59° 49’ n. The northernmost
point of Finland is at 70°5’ n. It is also
This and that from Finland the northernmost land point in the european
Finland’s total area is 338 145 km2 and
the 9 lives of rural finland land area 304 473 km2. The population is
Like the proverbial cat, Finnish countryside 5.2 million and population density 17 people
needs all of its nine lives.. per km2 (land area). In eU15, the average
population density is 119.
one hand tied behind your back Water
Farmer Matti kantola has adapted the family Inland waters comprise 34 000 km2, forest
farm to present-day realities of rural Finland . Finland’s territorial waters total
82 000 km2 of sea. There are nearly In 2007, the forest sector employed some 86 000
188 000 lakes and 180 000 islands. people and generated 6 per cent of Finland´s GDP.
all well in the kingdom of tomatoes The forest industries are one of the main industrial
Where do you find the happiest and longest-living Finns? sectors, with an annual domestic turnover of 23 billion
We suggest you head for närpiö, on the west coast of Finland. euros in 2007. In terms of net exports, the forest
industries are the biggest export industry, accounting
cartoon for one quarter of net exports.
column by inari Krohn 39
the world needs more food
But at the same time there is no alternative to ecologically
sustainable food production. Finnish professor U.B Lindström
has thought much about how to square that circle. 60onorth is a twice-annual magazine devoted to finland’s
renewable natural resources and their utilisation. located
The kivi family´s Piggy Bank Farm raises pigs organically.
Wind in the willows
44 between the 60o and 70o north, finland is the northernmost
eu country and the northernmost country in the world to
produce most of its food. utilisation of finland’s extensive
forests comprises wood production, harvesting of o game and
Buffer zones along watercourse benefit farmers and the environment.
on the agenda 54
50 other forest produce, and recreation. check the 60 north
online magazine at www.mmm.fi/60north
Natural resources magaziNe from fiNlaNd
Publisher: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finland | Address: PO Box 30, FI-00023 Government, Finland.
Editor-in-Chief: Pekka Väisänen, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, firstname.lastname@example.org | Editor: Mervi Ukkonen, Ministry of Agriculture
and Forestry, email@example.com | Editorial Board: Amie Aalto, Information Centre of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry | Klaus Ekman,
Hunters’ Central Organization | Jari Eloranta, Agency for Rural Affairs | Johanna Torkkel, MTT Agrifood Research Finland | Kati Haanpää, Finnish Geodetic In-
stitute | Marja Laeslehto, Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira | Seppo Leinonen, Häme-Uusimaa Forestry Centre | Jan Lindström, Forestry Development Centre
Tapio | Juha Mäkinen, Metsähallitus | Satu Pura, Boreal Plant Breeding | Leena Rantajärvi, Finnish Environment Institute | Pipsa Salolammi, University of Hel-
sinki | Johanna Torkkel, Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute | Siiri Vesikansa, Uusimaa Employment and Economic Development Centre (/T&E Cen-
tre) | Mervi Laitinen, National Land Survey of Finland | Production partner: Alma Media Lehdentekijät Oy | Editorial team: Riitta Ekholm, Anitra Rönkkö, Risto
Pitkänen | AD: Vuokko Isoherranen | Cover photo: Miika Kainu | Printed by Forssan Kirjapaino | 60° north is also available at: www.mmm.fi/60north
keeping the Fancy 7
rural areas vibrant
i l l u s t r at i o n s b y f l e u r w i l s o n
his issue of 60o North fo- by city dwellers when it comes to the many regions are drying up. Potatoes
cuses on life in the coun- spread of new technology. are well suited to Finland’s climate.
tryside. In Finland we are Finland is implementing the new One of the EU’s designated high grade
wrestling with the same Rural Development Programme for the seed potato production areas is located
problems as many oth- period 2007-2013, partially funded by around the northern city of Oulu.
er countries around the world. People the EU. The programme incorporates Many other food crops are grown
are moving to urban centres, further a variety of measures designed to help in Finland alongside our treasured
depopulating our sparsely settled ru- rural regions thrive. One important potatoes, including some that might
ral areas. This depopulation speeds up new tool in this context is the rural seem surprising – like tomatoes. In
the loss of rural services like shops, network, which Finland is pioneering this magazine we travel to a Finnish to-
schools and public transport links. The ahead of the other EU member states. mato town where people live exception-
vicious circle goes on. ✱✱✱ ally long and happy lives. We also visit
Finland has long worked to keep The photographer asked me to pose by an organic pig farm that aims to bring
rural areas viable. A major part of this a pile of potatoes. That suited me fine. happiness to its animal inhabitants, as
work consists of finding ways to utilise I’ve always liked my spuds, but recent- well as the growing numbers
renewable natural resources. Such activ- ly I’ve learnt a lot of things to make me of consumers keen to priori-
ities include farming, forestry and the love them even more – thanks to the tise animal welfare and opt
production of bioenergy. Various forms
of sustainable tourism are an important
source of livelihood in rural Finland.
United Nations’ International Year of
Peru’s gift to the world of-
for ecological foods.
In this magazine we are pleased
to show how people live in the Finnish
countryside, from the Baltic archipela-
go of the south to the rivers of Lapland
in the north. Our articles describe local
fers a much more effective and
ecological way to feed people around
the world than cereal or meat produc-
tion, especially as climatic
conditions are changing and
F inns love beautiful
and Finland has no
shortage of them. In a lush
green forest, by a rocky sea-
ues. His team compiled infor-
mation on all of the 12,000
leisure property deals closed
over a period of two years,
examining whether nearby
sore is very subjective, but
Finnish legislation does ac-
knowledge that the view from
a property constitutes part of
the value of that property.
tees appointed by the local
municipal council estimate
how much the landscape has
been spoiled, and how much
this has lowered the value of
livelihoods, how rural residents spend shore or on a tranquil tree- blots on the landscape had “In this study, the fi- the property. Compensation
their free time, and the sense of com- fringed lake, your mind rests, any bearing on sale prices. nancial value of a landscape for landscape damage can
munity they enjoy. Community is par- your blood pressure drops, Properties and their prices was determined by market then be calculated.
ticularly important in rural areas. Even the worries of the world are could be compared thanks to forces, and measured for a The study may also be
if the distances are long, we can achieve put into perspective, and a specially devised system of large sample, so I believe I applied in land use planning
so much more together than alone. your body and soul are revi- weightings and calculations. can safely say that this is to minimise both landscape
✱✱✱ talised. The findings showed that an objective indicator,” says damage and the amounts of
Activities organised locally and net- Sites for summer motorways, power lines, quar- Rahkila. compensation that need to be
working can both play a vital role in holiday homes are valued ac- ries and fences — in this order The results of the study paid out.
maintaining the viability of the coun- cording to the beauty of the — were the factors that had can help surveyors assess As a landscape expert
tryside. Public authorities can support view they enjoy. But what if the most impact on the prices landscape damage. If prop- and an environmental geolo-
such activities, thus helping people to such a landscape is spoiled? of holiday homes. The prox- erty owners’ views are ruined gist Pekka Rahkila inevitably
stay near their roots. Support can be If a road or power line is built imity of any of these features by sand or gravel extraction, has his own favourite Finn-
provided nationally by ministries, as through the forest, or a quar- reduced prices by an average for example, they can file ish landscape: “It would have
well as by regions and villages. ry cut into the side of a cliff? of 20 per cent. Having a main compensation claims under to be a view from up high of
One example of the government’s What happens to the value of road nearby reduced prices by the Land Extraction Act. Lake Aulanko and its islands
k r e e t ta j ä r v e n p ä ä
resolve to help the countryside is the the property then? 15 per cent, while radio masts In cases concerning public in summer, a vista unbroken
decision to ensure the access to suffi- Pekka Rahkila D.Sc. and gravel pits devalued prop- projects such as road con- by human settlements.”
cient broadband connections for citi- (Tech.) of the National Land erties by 10 per cent. struction, the supervisory
zens in rural areas. This can help to Survey of Finland has been The question of what is engineer from the District
reduce the advantage so easily gained looking into landscape val- beautiful and what is an eye- Survey Office and two trus- By Salla Korpela
8 nanoq of The best 9
the north pest control
Finns often joke about igno-
rant foreigners asking them Hygiene concerns can become tiresome, like when my
if polar bears roam their travelling companion on a trip to Asia sought to avoid
streets, like in Greenland. stomach bugs by rubbing her hands with disinfectant on
But surely no one thinks an hourly basis. While the staff of Asian street restaurants
like this any more today? In are kept busy physically fending off hungry rats and
one part of Western Finland, cockroaches, their Finnish counterparts keep unwanted
though, there is a grain of bacteria at bay aided by paperwork. Finland’s Food Act
truth in this supposedly pop- obliges everyone whose work involves handling easily
ular misconception. contaminable unpackaged foodstuffs to have a valid
Just outside Pietarsaari, hygiene proficiency certificate – also known as a “hygiene
a small town on Finland’s passport”.
west coast, a polar bear To get one of these certificates, applicants must an-
stands aggressively on its swer 40 questions testing their hygiene awareness. These
hind legs, ready to make passports to professions in food handling are very much
a meal of an unfortunate in demand, with 500,000 issued so far. Finnish schools
visitor. Its jaws are open also nowadays teach food hygiene as part of the curricu-
i l l u s t r at i o n s b y f l e u r w i l s o n
to clamp round your head, lum, enabling pupils to earn hygiene passports. There is
and for a moment you feel
like saying your last prayer. hectares of no comparable system anywhere else in the EU. Hygiene
proficiency certification in Finland is coordinated by Evi-
But thankfully this bear
has already pounced on its
last prey, as it now stands
solitude ra – the Finnish Food Safety Authority. B y a n i t r a r ö n K K ö
stuffed and mounted in the
collection of the Nanoq Mu- Long-term trends in Finnish farming include a steady
seum. Nanoq is Greenlandic decline in the number of farms, and a corresponging in-
for polar bear. crease in farm sizes. Finnish farms are no longer small by
escape from the
This unique museum, European standards. The average farm size of 34.4 hect-
located in a picturesque for- ares (2007) is in fact larger than the average for the EU’s
est setting, has been proudly 15 longest-standing members.
knacker’s yard set up by the Finnish arctic
explorer Pentti Kronqvist
as Finland’s first arctic
But this average is still nowhere near big enough. A
hundred hectares is now thought to be the minimum size
for a viable farm in northerly locations where winters are
Farm animals have no pension plans, but owners who have museum. Nanoq’s exhibits harsh and the growing season short. In fact, statistics for
become fond of their loyal workers and four-legged include equipment used by the numbers of farms in different size categories show
friends will be glad to hear that an alternative exists arctic expeditions. Visitors that fastest-growing category is that of over 200 hectares.
to the traditional one-way trip to the knacker’s yard. get a sense of the biting cold One downside of the trend towards fewer but big-
In Ylistaro, in the heart of the breadbasket of West- and endless snow and ice ger farms is that the shrinking populations of Finland’s
ern Finland, Heikki and Liisa-Cristiina Laaksonen of the Arctic. Some explor- sparsely settled regions make it hard to maintain the
have turned their farm into a sanctuary for ageing ers have given their lives in basic services that are the lifeblood of established rural
farm animals. attempting to conquer the communities. There’s miles to go to the local school, post
The old animals’ home seems to be just what the North Pole. Seeing images office, bank, or even the nearest neighbour. The surviving
doctor ordered. The only establishment of its kind in of their goal – a tiny flag farmers may be sitting pretty as far as farm finances are
Finland, this farm is sadly able to accommodate only a waving in the middle of the concerned, but at the same they could be condemned to a
fraction of all applicants – a situation all too familiar to any windswept arctic wastes – lifetime of hundreds of hectares of solitude - or two hun-
old people’s home. might make visitors wonder dred, if you are literal but not literary minded.
Anyone can visit the inmates at the Wanha Markki retire- whether such sacrifices were Though perhaps in the end it all depends on your
ment home for animals, free of charge. Inmates literally put really worthwhile. perspective. Compared to their counterparts in countries
out to grass include horses, ponies, donkeys, goats, sheep, min- www.nanoq.fi like Australia and the US, Finnish farmers are packed as
iature pigs, turkeys, chickens and rabbits. B y l a u r i h a a p a n e n by anitra rönkkö tightly as sardines in a tin. B y r i S t o p i t K ä n e n
of rural finland
farming in the traditional sense was a way of life focusing on a broad and varied utilisa-
tion of the resources of land, forest and water. farming even in the present sense of effec-
tive food production remains the lifeblood of finland’s rural areas, but like the proverbial
cat finnish countryside needs all of its nine lives to stop the flight of people to urban
centres. 60° north went to investigate the enterprise and ways of life, new and old, that
help to keep rural finland alive.
Born and bred on the
river Teno, fishing
and hosting fishing
tours are two of
heikki Tuovila’s many
late winter is a fine time to visit the land of the sámi,
in the finnish province of lapland. when the months of
winter gloom finally yield to the springtime light, the
ice-covered lakes among the open fells above the
village of utsjoki yield whitefish, arctic charr, trout and grayling
to local ice anglers. utsjoki borders on norway in the north
and is separated by but a narrow strip of norway from the icy
waters of the arctic ocean.
B y K a r i l i n D h o l M p h o t o S B y S e p p o S a M u l i a n D K r e e t ta j ä r v e n p ä ä
Welcome on board!
or a fisherman Utsjoki is One of the largest male spawning
synonymous with Teno, the salmon ever caught in the river swam i’ll be your guide on this tour of rural finland.
of reindeer mighty river that forms the
border between Finland and
Norway as it flows towards the Arctic
into a trap set by Heikki’s brother
some 40 years ago.
“With a slap of its tail, it ignited
i’m torsti Hyyryläinen and i currently lead the
ruralia institute of the university of Helsinki,
aptly located in the town of Mikkeli, deep in rural
are blown Ocean. Salmon fisherman and fish-
ing guide Heikki Tuovila was born and
my lifelong desire to fish. That was
surely the start of my career as a fish-
let me say first of all that i firmly believe
in the wind,
raised by Teno. He was taught to fish as erman.” that rural finland’s reserves of creativity will
a small boy by his father, and has gone Fishing in the Teno for a living has see us through the ongoing restructuring of
on fishing all his life. Tuovila feels a declined since those days, but arrang- farming. it’s not the first time nor will it be
and guide the deep attachment to the legendary wa-
ters of Europe’s prime salmon river. As
he stands splashed by the icy waters of
ing sports fishing trips for outsiders is
now a major source of income for riv-
erside residents like Tuovila.
the last time that new adaptive solutions are
My second comment before we get started is
actions of the Teno by the rapids of Yläköngäs, he
recites the lyrics of a song: salmon
As the spring advanc-
that finland is a large country with large regional
differences. you may know that lapland is unique,
“The most beautiful thing in the es, the snow slowly but you’ll learn soon that eastern and western
boy’s eyes was the silvery stream, like in the sun melts, and the rein- finland couldn’t be more different from each other,
a clear and wise thought. I wanted to deer herds head for and the baltic archipelagos are yet another world.
be like that sturdy tree, rooted on the their summer pastures with their new- fasten your seatbelts, we’re off.
banks of the stream of life.” born calves. Up on the fells
14 the skiing season can last well into
June. The salmon fishing season begins
river’s wild 15
as soon as the river ice melts in May, white rapids.
and lasts through the summer till Au- “The tough, tarred boats
gust. used by local salmon fishermen
In the high summer the sun are built for both stability and
shines all night long, but by mid July maneuverability. They are also fa-
its starts to dip below the horizon voured by the water sprites who live
again around the midnight hour. This beneath the river bed,” explains Laiti.
is the best time of the year for catch- Boats for the Teno are built of age-
ing salmon. old Lappish pinewood grown in the for- man, taking out a hand made Lapp
Over the millennia certain stretch- ests around Inari. knife from a leather sheath hanging
es of the river have formed salmon “Boat-building used to be a vital from his belt.
pools favoured by both the fish, and skill enabling families to make a liv- He extracts a long, dark slab of
fishermen in the know. ing. Without a good boat you could dried reindeer meat from a bag, and
“Fishermen gather in their row- hardly catch any fish,” Laiti adds. cuts a thin slice off with his impres-
ing boats at the upstream end of these sive carving knife.
pools, and take turns fishing the pool. living The other creature on “This dried meat is one of the
Fishermen coming downstream must with which people in the Teno most important products. It’s really
land on the bank at the top of each pool reindeer Valley have based their good – taste some!”
to wait their turn,” explains Tuovila. livelihoods for thou-
Most adult Teno salmon weigh sands of years is the reindeer. The do- finland’s Länsman’s mother
Like his father and grandfather before less than ten kilos, but the largest can mesticated reindeer of the Teno Valley only female Vieno Länsman is a
him, jouni Laiti makes rowing boats by be 20 kilos or more. still live very much according to the reindeer registered reindeer
hand for use on the River Teno. he also
sculpts the oars used by local boatmen.
same seasonal rhythms once followed herder herder in the herding
Boats to Local master boat- by their wild ancestors. district of Kaldoaivi,
please the builder Jouni Laiti, “I make mouth-watering reindeer and the only female herder anywhere
spirits from the village of meat products like portions of rein- in Finland.
Utsjoki, is descended deer meat cut ready for stewing, dried Reindeer herds freely roam the
from generations of boat-builders who meat, and reindeer sausage,” says Arvi fells during the summer, but are
Conditions in finnish lapland are harsh. have also always kept up traditional Länsman from the village of Nuorgam. rounded up each autumn to be separat-
the snow falls first in september, and only knowledge of Lapland’s supernatural One thing Länsmän doesn’t make ed by their respective owners. Calves
melts away in june. in midwinter the days beings. Anyone rowing in his boats is aphrodisiac powder ground from about six months old, destined for the
are almost as dark as the nights. farming is will remain blessed by the spirits. The reindeer antlers – though he has often slaughter, are separated into paddocks
not viable. Most areas are so sparsely settled river knows who is trying to catch its been asked to provide such products.
that the nearest neighbours could be several fish, and invisible hands can guide the “It’s secret ingredients are known
Ailigas Fell, long believed to be the home of
miles away, with services tens or hundreds of courses of boats floating on its waters. only to Jouni Nuorgami, who keeps a
spirits, stands sentinel over the serene River
kilometres distant. Boats for the Teno are made to a legendary Lapland souvenier shop in Teno in Utsjoki, in northernmost Finnish
but these extreme conditions are also traditional local design that makes Kaamanen. I’m happy to let him go on Lapland. The fell top offers breathtaking
an asset, at least for lapland’s booming it easy for rowers to work their way selling it, with sole rights.” says Läns- views into the highlands of norway.
tourism, which is driving a new faith in the
region’s economic future. back in the 1960s
people already realised that if services were
allowed to run down in remote regions it
might never be possible to revive them.
keeping services in place was very costly, but
those investments are now bearing fruit.
The legendary salmon of the Teno
draws fishermen from far and wide
and is a major source of tourism
income. Sammol Lukkari (right) and
Teuvo Marjala caught catch a pair of
salmon on which they’re sure to dine
in and out for a good long time.
16 stairways to the world 17
By Marja hannula photo By juKKa-peKKa Moilanen
n Finnish Lapland’s oldest in- ances. Market research showed that
dustrial town, Kemi, it’s easy the staircases used by factories in La- staircase has needed a little tweaking
to spot and often also sniff out pland producing prefabricated houses to suit Japanese superstitions. “There
the local pulp mill. The mill or log cabins were being brought all can’t be any more than 12 steps, as 13
produces 560,000 tonnes of the way up from Southern Finland. His is an unlucky number for the Japanese.
pulp every year, from hardwood and mind was made up. There must also be a certain number
softwood harvested around Northern “We became the first staircase of steps where the staircase turns a
Finland. Another traditional industry manufacturers in Finnish Lapland. corner,” explains Juopperi.
in the town is sawmilling. Our location in Kemi gave us a consid- Japanese customers are also en-
But not all of the wood harvest- erable logistical advantage.” amoured of designs using Finnish
ed from the region’s forests is sawn Within a year Lappiporras signed pine and birch wood. The wood used
up into standard lumber or pulped to an agreement to produce staircases for in Lappiporras staircases is harvested
make paper. Kemi is also the home of a local house manufacturer. The firm in Oulu Province or near the Russian
one of Finland’s top staircase manu- has grown rapidly ever since – at up border in Kainuu. The resinous and
facturers, Lappiporras Oy, who make to 40 per cent a year. Flexibility was a thick-branched trees of Lapland are
more than 3,000 staircases every year major asset for the family firm. Some- not so easy for carpenters to work into
for homes around the world. times a staircase could be made at just staircases.
This family business employs a day’s notice. The availability of suitable wood
about 40 people in Kemi. This is a fair could soon be a problem. If timber im-
number, considering how manufac- 12 steps Juopperi made his first ports from Russia cease, due to high
turing industry is adapting to survive to Japan staircase design com- customs tariffs, the region’s major for-
in high production cost countries by pletely by hand. After est industries and smaller-scale busi-
increasing productivity – in practice, additional development, a safe and nesses will have to compete for the
employing fewer people to produce practical standard design was devised, same Finnish-grown wood.
Maarit Paltto makes her living in the away from the rest of the herd, who are very close to people. According to an more goods. from which individual products can be
traditional Sámi way: gathering and spared for future breeding. ancient Sámi belief, the spirits of rein- The pulp mill payroll contains tailored. The design has been a great
processing plants and herbs, weaving Reijo juopperi founded staircase manu-
The condemned reindeer are deer are blown in the wind, and guide only 220 names, though the number success both in Finland and abroad. facturer Lappiporras in the early 1990s.
clothes, turning reindeer skins and butchered at modern slaughterhouses the actions of people. of people employed by the mill at least Japanese customers are particular-
bones into products. Willow leaves have It became a success story: every year over
traditional been used to prepare remedies
run by the district herding associa- Maarit Paltto breathes new life doubles if out-sourced operations are ly fond of staircases built in Lapland. 3,000 staircases leave the factory destined
to various ailments. tions. The quality of meat is a vital into tanned reindeer skins in the vil- included. But the fact of the matter is But Lappiporras’s standard model for homes around the world.
concern for both reindeer owners and lage of Karigasniemi on the Finnish- that future jobs in the region are likely
meat producers. Länsman’s custom- Norwegian border, by making the to be generated more by small busi-
ers are mainly based in the Teno Valley workable skin from the reindeer’s legs nesses than large-scale operations.
and Northern Norway. into fine leather jackets.
“People are caught There are five full-time reindeer
meat producers in Utsjoki and about
She says she needs about 50 rein-
deer leg skins to make a single jacket.
out of the
The rise of Lappipor-
ras is a local success
up in the currents 50 professional reindeer herders.
“We’ve had to borrow considerable
“I sew them together by hand, so
making a jacket is a slow process. In
recession story. The firm was
founded by a local
of life. everyone sums to invest in private meat process-
ing facilities. It would cost around
the winter the reindeer herders use a
special reindeer fur coat called a peski.
carpenter Reijo Juopperi in the early
1990s, when Finland was in the depths
tries to go their own 300,000 euros today to build a new
plant like our small meat factory.”
In summer they wear lighter clothes
made of traditionally tanned skins.”
of recession. Like many others, Juop-
peri had been laid off by employers he
way, but in the end Keeping People have only ever
No reindeer have to be slaughtered
especially to make leather handicrafts.
had served almost all his working life.
But instead of getting depressed him-
the current will traditions been able to keep warm
alive and well fed in the
When reindeer are slaughtered for
their meat, many more parts of the an-
self, he resolved to realise an idea that
had long been brewing up in his mind.
still carry them to far north thanks to
their reindeer. Although times have
imal can be used to make a surprising
variety of traditional Sámi handicrafts
He already had experience of
building staircases, including several
their fate.” changed in Lapland, reindeer are still and tools. built to fit for the homes of acquaint-
tied By t i i a l a p pa l a i n e n
photoS Seppo SaMuli
behind your back no earthly power can change the immutable fact that where farming is concerned north is
north. finnish farmers seek stability from larger farm size, forestry and contracting work
outside the short growing season.
20 There are many elements of
uncertainty in the farmer's life –
weather, cereal prices...
few european regions have undergone
such dramatic structural changes over
the last 60 years as rural finland, and
these changes are still going on. in
the 1950s half of finland’s population
still lived from small-scale farming,
but today agriculture accounts for
just 3 per cent of the country’s gross
national product. farming is becoming
an industry as farm sizes increase,
and production becomes ever more
mechanised. the future of finnish
farming lies in the production of basic
foodstuffs for the domestic market,
and specialities such as organic
produce for export. the global food
crisis could still change the situation,
however, by creating new demand for Depopulation of rural Finland is everyday
reality for Matti and Mari kantola. Their
food produced in finland. children essi (left) and kalle are being
moved to a new school a long way from the
farm. kalle is the only pupil in his grade at
the local school due to be closed soon.
T he road from Helsinki
to Sysmä passes strik-
ing vistas of the lovely
Lake Päijänne, as well as views of
the rolling fields of this agricultural
Many farmers have decided that
enough is enough. People are moving
out of the Finnish countryside, and the
remaining farmers have no choice but to
try to maximise the areas they cultivate
region of Southern Finland. The to achieve economies of scale.
municipality of Sysmä has 4,500 in- One Sysmä farmer actively expand-
habitants and as many as 245 work- ing his business is Matti Kantola, who
ing farms, whose fields have a total in 1994 took over lands that have been
area of almost 8,000 hectares. in his family since 1721. Kantola, 43,
Out standing in his field is the mainly runs the farm by himself today,
farmer, sometimes whistling cheer- with occasional help from his wife, his
fully, but occasionally cursing his 74-year-old father, and his brothers.
luck, struggling to cope with unsta- The farm grows about 30 tonnes of ce-
ble grain prices, rising costs, the reals a year, including oats, barley and
shifting seasons and long distances wheat, as well as 30 tonnes of timothy
to the markets. grass and 15−20 tonnes of caraway.
22 Kantola’s fields are scattered
around Sysmä, with the furthest lying
ing business on
summer weekends, 23
more than twenty kilometres from his when the district is
farmhouse. His interest in seed culti- invaded by around 3,500
vation and small-seed crops, that is, people who have their holiday homes
non-cereal crops such as hay, has led in the area.
Kantola to buy and rent fields from When Matti was a lad, there were
smaller local farms that have other- three schools within easy reach. But
wise stopped operating. today Kalle does not have a single
classmate of the same age among the
lonely Kantola reckons that since 15 pupils in the last local school, which
life his childhood two-thirds will close next year, leaving him with
of the district’s farms have 16 kilometres further to travel every few years back, due to a collapse in pric-
been abandoned, including four of the day to the centre of Sysmä. es, Kantola did exactly the opposite. His
five neighbouring farms, where the far-sightedness has now borne fruit,
former farmers have retired unable determinedly Kantola has pur- with caraway prices expected to rise as
to find anyone to carry on their work. hanging on posefully built up high as a euro per kilo.
Matti and his wife Mari Kantola both his farm knowing Forestry is another useful side-
feel that such changes can make farm- that this represents his only chance to line for Kantola, who has built up the
ing a lonely life today. keep his head above water. Returns per farm’s forest holdings to around 200
A nearby village hall lies unused. hectare on cereal crops have declined hectares, as a safeguard in case the
Local social clubs and agricultural steadily, so farmers have to keep ex- future for farming becomes even more
associations have faded away, with panding even to maintain the same uncertain.
most only existing on paper nowadays. income level. “Agricultural policies should be
Most of the Kantolas neighbours are Kantola has also made other brave more consistent. We’re living in a time
Mari kantola has started to learn farm pensioners, and the nearest country decisions. In 1999 he became the first of constant change, and in fear of more
chores only recently. Until now, she dances are miles away. Fortunately the farmer in Sysmä to start growing cara- changes, since we don’t know what lies
has concentrated on taking care of the supermarket in the centre of Sysmä is way. While farmers elsewhere in Europe in store,” says Kantola.
children. able to survive, not least due to thriv- were abandoning caraway production a In spite of all the uncertainty,
Kantola is still able to smile and keep
his faith in the future. He stresses
one Matti Kantola proudly age for a Finnish farm. A kilo of grain that someone has to keep working, so
man and shows visitors the old would sell for some 80 pennies, or 13 there’s no use just complaining, espe-
his 180 family trees and maps cents in today’s terms. cially since he ultimately plans to en-
hectares of the farm that hang on Now Kantola’s farm has 180 hec- joy his retirement in sunny Spain.
the wall of his sturdy log tares under cultivation, with grain “There are hard challenges ahead.
house. The names ‘Juho son of Matti’ prices hovering around 12 cents a kilo. We’ve often wondered whether there’s
and ‘Matti son of Juho’ can be seen There is little scope for further expan- any sense in going on. Last year gave us
alternating through the 18th and 19th sion, as the family members have no hope again, due to rising grain prices.
centuries, as the latest Juho, aged 10, more time to put into the farm. Outside Though the situation’s worsened again
and his 8-year-old brother Kalle peep help is hard to find, as paid work can now, I still somehow believe we’re
into the parlour. Matti and his fam- only be offered for short periods. The through the worst,” he says.
ily are keen to hold on to the farm’s growing season is short in Finland, “When you know that your ances-
age-old traditions, even if the nearest lasting from April to November in the tors held on and survived here even
neighbours and services seem to be south, or May to September further through the famine years of the 19th
getting ever further away. north. Grain farmers have to work all The supermarket in the centre of Sysmä century, then you think there’s no rea-
“I feel very strong ties with these hours during the all too short summer. is soldering on. son why I shouldn’t also be able to get
fields. I also think I’ve managed better New loads of grain have to be re- by.”
than a normal farmer,” says Kantola. peatedly fed into continually operating in just a few months. This pushes up
When Kantola took over the reins dryers, even during the night. Other- energy costs, while the short growing
of the farm, Finland was in deep reces- wise the threshing would be delayed. season means that yields per hectare
sion and on the threshold of joining The work done by farmers in more are low by European standards. Fin-
the EU. The place then had just under southerly lands over the whole year land’s long distances additionally in- It is an uncertain life, but
forty hectares of fields – about aver- must all be done by Finnish farmers crease transport costs. Matti kantola takes it on the chin and
continues to believe in the future.
B y t u u l i v i r ta
24 photoS anna KoiviSto 25
in the kingdom
finland’s happiest and longest-living inhabitants
can be found in närpiö, in a swedish-speaking
enclave on the west coast.
O pen farmland stretches as far
as the eye can see, dotted with
gleams of reflected sunlight
marking the locations of greenhouses.
We are in Närpiö, in the heartland of
adds market gardener Carita Stenberg
from the side of the carnival stage.
Finnish horticulture. Over the horizon their wallet cucumber and
the west lies the Gulf of Bothnia. To the ornamental cab-
east stretch out are the fertile plains of bages. Several Polish gardeners work
Southern Ostrobothnia. together with members of the Stenberg
More than half of Finnish-grown family in their greenhouses.
tomatoes are grown here, as well as a “Conditions for farming in Fin-
third of domestically grown cucumbers. land are quite unusual. The seasonal
The high point of summer in Närpiö is changes are great, and we can have very
the traditional Tomato Carnival, held in hard frosts. We use a lot of energy heat-
2008 for the 26th time. ing the greenhouses – but you’d also use
Standing proudly beside the world’s a lot flying in flowers and vegetables
longest tomato table, Lasse Eriksson, from abroad. I don’t think the carbon
who has been the town’s culture sec- footprint of our vegetables can be much
retary for three decades, compares bigger than for vegetables flown long
Närpiö’s festivities to the carnivals of distances to Finland,” says Stenberg. Finland, and are prepared to pay more everyone in närpiö is proud of their
Southern Europe. “When we joined the European for it.” local “red gold”.
“Thousands of people gather here Union, we were promised that we could No one seems to grumble in Närpiö.
to meet old friends and see new faces, continue to grow produce in Finland. The town’s rich cultural life and many The school big band närpes
too. We’ve got all kinds of things hap- It’s our legal right. But the subsidies clubs and societies bring people to- Skolmusikkår has been the pride of
pening, from market stalls to samba keep on shrinking, and electricity pric- gether to enjoy themselves. Social sci- närpiö for exactly 50 years. The band
dancing and performances by the es keep going up,” she adds. entists believe that such strong social today has 130 school-age musician
members and 50 dancers.
school big band.” Stenberg believes in the future of links are the reason for the region’s
“This is the highlight of the year for her business, not least because of the high levels of life expectancy and well-
us farmers. Greenhouse cultivation is steady demand for Finnish-grown being. Lasse Eriksson. “Everyone is ready to
our local tradition. We’re very proud of vegetables and flowers: “Consumers “What this really means is that help others, and work together in the
this, and want to keep it going strong,” value pure produce grown here in people care about each other,” explains traditional local communal spirit. That’s
these latitudes. B y t u u l i v i r ta
26 photoS eMil BoByrev 27
The greenhouse restaurant Linds kök why the organisation of the tomato carni- problems when she moved to the neigh- They found their own
serves tomatoes in both savoury and vals goes so smoothly from year to year.” bouring municipality of Kaskinen twenty
sweet dishes. Desserts include tomato years ago, to work looking after mentally
ice cream served with a topping of
cucumber liqueur. colourful Närpiö’s population of handicapped people in Närpiö.
local dialect around 9,000 inhabit- “People in Närpiö live in such a
ants is gradually de- tight community that they’ve evolved
clining. But there’s no shortage of willing together with their own language. I still
hands to work, thanks to the presence of can’t understand every single word, but traditional livelihoods are vanishing fast in finland’s extensive archipelagoes.
immigrants from more than thirty coun- it’s best not to worry, and just listen to it takes dreamers of way out ideas to stop life fleeing the wind-swept shores and rocks.
tries, notably Bosnia and Vietnam. These the whole sentences. When you go to
foreign workers find jobs in local metal Närpiö you’ve got to kind of tune in to Petri järvinen’s
industry firms, as well as in greenhouse their dialect,” she laughs. hobbies
cultivation. Tuisku-Lappalainen believes that include diving
It seems to be harder to attract Finn- the best things in Ostrobothnia are the
ish workers to Närpiö – perhaps due to the region’s peaceful vistas and a warm
challenge of learning to understand the sense of community.
town’s exotic Swedish dialect. “In Närpiö I’ve found a job that al-
Finnish-speaker Tarja Tuisku-Lap- lows me to love people as much as I
palainen was not put off by linguistic want.”
28 Petri järvinen is one of those who are
bringing new life to the archipelago. 29
Jewels Visitors to Kasnäs are and his ex-wife, who also jointly run Born to be
from the also keen on Järvinen’s a jewelry shop in Espoo, near Hel- a self-made
isles gold and silver jewelry. sinki. Two younger women also keep man.
He has worked as a gold- Järvinen on his toes – his teenage
smith for 26 years, and run his own daughters from his first marriage.
workshop in Kasnäs since 1986. “The girls ran a flea market down
“Exports have declined, because by the harbour last summer. I’ve
our products are just too expensive. taught them that once you learn to do
We now import simpler silver jewelry business you’ll always get by.”
from China, so we can at least keep up
some kind of sales volume,” he says.
Six people currently work for
Järvinen’s jewelry firm Taalintehtaan
Kulta Oy. Hiring new staff is costly, but
the firm’s network of sales agents is
steadily expanding. tourism is becoming an ever more important
Financial support is vital for many source of employment in rural finland. in 1997
enterprises in the archipelago, includ- finnish hospitality businesses recorded a total
ing Järvinen’s. of 15 million overnight stays, but by 2007 this
“I received start-up support for my figure rose to 19 million. over the same period
tourism business, and it really helped. tourism in finnish lapland has increased by
The jewelry workshop was my father’s, almost 50 per cent.
and its machines date back to his time. finland’s main assets for tourism include
No support was forthcoming for that unspoilt northern natural settings, and unique
business.” exotic experiences. successful tourism operators Petri järvinen's survival recipe
The most precious jewels in are bold and creative, able to produce, package is to seize on all business
opportunities. he has seven
Järvinen’s workshop are individual sil- and market high quality services as attractive
businesses in his name, ranging
ver and gold designs made to resemble and accessible products. from jewelry to tourism and
the shape of real islands. leisure services.
“Every single one of these jewels is
made from start to finish by hand here
in Kasnäs. Customers send us a map of
the island they want depicted. We cut
he small village of Kasnäs, one winds one’s way in the labyrinth of Järvinen is one of those dream- the shape of the island by hand using a
in the islands of Kemiö, thousands of islands and rocks. With ers of way out ideas who are de- special saw, and then we can mark the
serves as a gateway to the the advent of mechanised commercial termined to keep the archipelago location of a house or cottage to order
vast Turku Archipelago off fishing traditional fishing has died alive. His entrepreneurial spirit is with a diamond.”
Southwest Finland. The wider archi- out as a livelihood, to be replaced by renowned locally. At the moment he
pelago encompasses some 20,000 organised fishing trips for tourists. has seven businesses in his name. always Järvinen was born and
islands large and small. Traditionally Kasnäs is one of islands where One of these is the tour operator busy raised in Helsinki, and
the islanders earned their living from summer is a lively season. Adventur- Kasnäs Water Sport Oy, through speaks Finnish as his first
the sea and the soil - fishing, small- ous sailors call there shore services. which Järvinen runs diving excur- language, but he has settled in well to
scale farming, handicraft and such. “In summer the harbour is full of sions, seal-watching safaris and the Swedish-speaking archipelago.
In the modern money-driven world visitors’ boats. The place attracts every- lighthouse trips for corporate cli- “It’s nice to get back to my roots
there’s less and less room for such a one from executives to nobodies. But in ents and other groups. sometimes, but I’m happiest here sur-
way of life. the winter it’s quiet and you can just get “Not everyone in the village ap- rounded by the sea. I don’t have much
One asset the archipelagoes have on with your work in peace,” says Petri proves of these ‘tourist businesses’, free time, but I try to find time for short
is the sheer beauty of what used to be Järvinen, one of the 60 or so permanent but without them, there would be no breaks,” he says.
hazardous water to navigate. There’s inhabitants of Kasnäs, as he starts the services here,” Järvinen shouts over He is helped in his year-round jew-
constant adventure and surprise as motor on a large rubber dinghy. the roar of the motor. elry business by both his present wife,
Back to the
white horse suddenly Jaakko Nuotio of Rohan Stables
gallops out of the smoke. shakes his guests’ hands warmly, but
Its rider stares intently, his left hand is in plaster. He put his
taking aim at an enemy’s shoulder out of joint during a tour-
head, and raising a sharp sword... nament display last weekend in the
From the seaside village of Kasnäs Åland islands when he fell off my
we have gone deep into the forests of mount during a battle with the evil
Västanfjärd – the smallest municipal- Black Knight. His fall had been script-
ity in the islands of Kemiö – and also ed, but not the consequent injury.
deep into medieval days of yore. “My doctor thinks I’m mad doing
this kind of thing for fun,” he laughs.
Today the good knight is saving
his strength, leaving his wife Anu Nuo-
tio to take up her sword and mount her
steed, clad in almost 30 kilos of body
armour and a hefty metal helmet.
After splitting her ill-fated en-
emy’s head – thankfully represented
on this occasion by a large cabbage
fixed to a wooden post – Anu giddies
up her horse again, and uses her sword
to deftly spear four rings mounted on
frames out on the exercise paddock.
Business The Nuotios set up Ro-
thriving han Stables as a tour-
ist attraction in 2005.
Nowadays about 5,000 visitors a year,
largely groups from firms, clubs and
stag night parties, enjoy getting back
to days of old when knights were bold,
while also discovering the delights of
Kemiö’s fairytale forests.
Visitors are taught how to use
swords and practice archery, on the
ground and on horseback. Some head
Anu nuotio splits her enemy's head
thankfully it´s only a cabbage!
off into the forests, while others learn
stunt riding tricks. At the end of the
day all the participants are ceremoni-
ally knighted, and served hearty medi- A Finn is one who answers when no one has asked a question,
eval fare. asks a question when no one answers, does not answer when asked,
During the summertime Rohan one who gets lost, stands on the shore and shouts,
Stables organise roving tournament and on the opposite shore stands another one, shouting:
displays at fairs and other events the forest echoes, resounds, the pine trees murmur.
around Finland. Here comes a Finn, groans, then stands here and groans,
“The winter is our summer holiday goes on and groans, as if sauna steam groans
in a way,” says Jaakko. “We have time as another throws more water onto the oven.
then to get our equipment ready and Such a Finn always has a pal,
think about the next summer’s per- he is never alone, and that pal is a Finn.
formances.” And nothing can separate a Finn from a Finn,
nothing but death and the police.
Horses as The idea of setting up
a way of such a business was translated from the finnish by anselm Hollo.
life born in 2005, when
part of a Finnish re-
ality TV series The Great Adventure
was filmed at Anu’s former stables,
in Häme on the mainland. Jaakko
was also involved in making the pro-
gramme, teaching its competitors me-
dieval riding skills.
Anu had earlier run a tourism
business, while Jaakko had directed
advertising films and also worked at a
riding stable for tourists in Greece.
“We’ve both spent a lot of our lives
with horses,” says Jaakko. “We soon
had the idea to do this kind of thing
for other people, too.”
A search on the internet for a suit-
able place to buy led Anu and Jaakko to
Kemiö, where the couple were wedded
in 2006 in true medieval style. Where
did they get the pluck to stake their
livelihood on such a way out idea?
“We’ve both been involved in the
world of big business in the past. But
only now are we truly living according
to our own values,” says Anu.
“As a child I used to play with a
hobby horse, and now I can play with
real ones,” laughs Jaakko, before add-
ing that raising horses isn’t all fun and
With the Baltic struggling under a heavy load of nutrients, the traditional privy is games.
a much better environmental solution than the flush toilet in the archipelago. The “We have twelve horses, and we
knights in shining armour would have been happy with the arrangements at Rohan smell of manure and sweat just like
Stables - a throne with for royalty.
the knights of old!”
By Salla Korpela
34 photoS By MiiKa Kainu 35
there’s no magic formula in terms of numbers of people,
jobs, enterprise, what have you, for keeping rural areas
alive and kicking. keeping it simple, people want to live
in living communities. survival and revival of traditional ways
of doing things together signal healthy communal spirit.
B y Finnish standards the
region of Pohjois-Savo, situ-
ated bang in the middle of
the country, is quite densely
populated, with as many as 12 people
hailing from each square kilometre.
sure enough as you get closer, you can
detect small jetties sticking out from
the shoreline. It’s a safe bet that where
there’s a jetty there’s also a sauna and a
summer house hidden behind the trees.
Summer visitors inject life and
By European standards ... well, forget money into the remote communities.
it. People from Western Finland say we And the trend is increasingly towards
Savo people are as slippery as a bar of converting summer houses into round-
soap, managing with no apparent ef- the-year residences. To be able to work
fort to be for, against and neither for from these parts, you need wireless
nor against on any given issue. Per- information technology, but in IT Fin-
sonally I think that flexibility of mind land that’s no problem. But we’re ap-
makes us such a friendly and hospita- proaching our first port of call.
ble lot. Let’s go and meet some of the
people for whom this rural region is a-hunting In Nilsiä, less than an
the best place in the world. we will go hour’s drive northwest
It’s an hour’s flight from Helsin- of Kuopio, we meet Olli
ki to the regional capital Kuopio. The Laakkonen and Esko Heiskanen who
bird’s eye view is a canvas of green are having morning coffee and a swift
and blue, forests and lakes. The land- shot of cognac at Heiskanen’s cabin, in
scape opening from the car window anticipation of many shots to be shared
is dominated by vast forests climbing by the hunters after the many kills.
up and down the sides of hills. Then, The fellows are making plans for the
coming round a bend you spot a patch hunting season. Both men are longtime
of fields clustering round a lake, and members of the local hunting club.
kuvatekstiä, kuvatekstiä, kuvatekstiä,
kuvatekstiä, kuvatekstiä, kuvatekstiä,
kuvatekstiä, kuvatekstiä, kuvatekstiä,
This is the life: working wireless sitting on the jetty by the lake. kuvatekstiä, kuvatekstiä,
northern savo lies just about in the middle
of finland. it is home to about 250 000
people, about 5 per cent of all finns. the
population trend is pointing down. the
area of 20 366 km2 is about half of the
whole of the netherlands. Here population
density is 12 people per km2, while the
Elk hunting is a team sport. as well as coffees, teas, chocolates, In- Topi Laitinen (right) knows how to attract Dutch manage to pack nearly 400 people
Some members are assigned to move dian sugar, Bolivian rose salt, textiles, holiday-makers. Taste one of these... to each square kilometre of their country.
through the forest driving the elk to- cosmetics and eco-detergents. The shop agriculture and the forest industry are the
wards gunmen. When the hunt is over, also includes a nice café, where shop- mainstays of regional economy, along with
the hunting club organizes a special keeper Topi Laitinen sits us down and metal-working industry. in the regional
feast serving elk stew or elk soup. This serves some local specialities. best municipality in Finland. The writer division of finland norhern savo belongs
is an annual highlight for the entire How on earth can such a specialist Juhani Aho, who celebrated his home to eastern finland. it is the poorest region
village. Even if my family are only part- outlet thrive deep in the forest? tract in a comical novel describing the in finland. the GDp per capita for the
time inhabitants, we are welcome too. “Thanks for asking, but the shop’s first railway trip of a rural couple, would whole region as well as for northern savo
While waiting for the autumn, the doing just fine, with business growing at have liked that. But he’s long gone, and is clearly lower than that for the other
hunters check their weapons, exercise 50 per cent every year,” Laitinen boasts. our venue is the backstage of Alapitkä regions and for finland as whole. in a
their dogs, and tell tall tales of previous Holiday-makers’summer custom ac- youth center. comparison where the GDp per capita
hunting exploits. I remember hearing counts for about 80 per cent of annual Olavi Lyytikäinen is applying grey for the eu 27 is 100, the corresponding
the story of an old farmer who remained turnover. Green-minded shoppers from paint to his moustache. The local sum- figure for whole finland is 117.1, while that
the best shot in the village even when he far and wide are another important cus- mer theatre group is getting ready to for eastern finland is 88.6 and that for
became old and infirm. Someone would tomer segment. perform. northern savo 91.9.
carry him in a chair, and so he contin- “My main aim is to promote ecologi- “This is quite a change from the
ued hunting until his last autumn. Laak- cal and sustainable lifestyles. I do this garage workshop,” says Lyytikäinen,
konen himself needs no urging to tell by running a shop, which is what I know who works as a mechanic by day. He is
the story of the bear he shot in Russia, best,” explains Laitinen. the star of this evening’s show. “My job Be a star for a moment. feelings and experiences. They gain a mobile work When the night
before dishing out generous shots of co- Once people have discovered the pays the bills, but through the theatre I join the local drama club. relatively large audience - typically of makes me stay falls, it is time for
gnac in the bear’s honour. shop, they inevitably return – I speak of can really express myself.” around 4,000 each summer. us to part. As for
experience. One carries home not only The evening’s show is a play en- What drives these people’s enthusi- myself, I will drive back to my family’s sec-
It used to be said that in Finland it was
all shop Heading southeast we environmentally sound products but titled “Kätkäläinen and the City Lights”.
easier to be a goverment minister than
asm for drama? ond home by the lake Kauppinen in Nilsiä.
shape reach the village of Muu- also a good load of faith in one’s dreams. It features the problems faced by a to be accepted to a hunting group. The “Sheer madness. In the theatre you Many of us city refugees have found that
ruvesi. Our destination is simple country lad in the big city. He import was that in Finland hunting can become a child again and laugh until wireless broadband connections make it
the village shop known as Topi’s Farm enacting a With the evening encounters recognizable characters, is about communality, belonging to a it hurts,” says actor Väinö Turunen. Tu- possible to spend more time in the coun-
Shop after the proprietor. It’s hard to community’s falling, we’re head- such as an old country bumpkin and a grassroots rural community, and social runen needs no make up, or costume, as tryside or even move there permanently.
believe your eyes when you walk into experiences ing northwest. Our smooth-tongued man-of-the-world, a de- priviledge opens no doors there. he’s a stage character as such. This also has a vitalizing effect on the
this old barn. It has been converted into destination is the pendable country granny and a tempt- Before heading off to the stage, ev- economy, culture and social structures of
a shop selling a comprehensive selec- municipality of Lapinlahti. In a recent ing femme fatale. eryone exchanges hugs and even the the villages. Life here is safe, sound and
tion of organic products: freshly baked poll, Lapinlahti with its beautiful lake These shows touch people’s hearts, visiting reporter and photographer get happy within a friendly community and
loaves, dairy produce and vegetables, and hill settings was voted the second because they spotlight their genuine hugged. its traditions - no hurry back to the city.
Back to the land
T he idea came from an artist We tried hard to put down roots. We A large apple tree has appeared in
i l l u S t r at i o n B y v u o K K o i S o h e r r a n e n
friend: “Why not buy a school!”. planted potatoes, but by the autumn we the garden of our winter home. Nobody
It was back in the 1970s, when couldn’t find them any more. We also planted it, and the hares have let it be.
many village schools in Finland were planted apple tree seedlings, and by the A seed must have somehow fallen into
being closed down. Children were end of the winter the hares had ruin- fertile ground, and just started to grow.
moved to bigger schools in popula- ed them by nibbling at their bark. Our Now it’s a fine strong tree, and this au-
tion centres, and the local authorities flower bulbs were eaten by voles. We got tumn it is full of apples.
sold off the empty school buildings. I some hens, but a stray dog killed them.
was a young artist, in need of a studio. The building badly needed renovating. Inari Krohn
And so this fourth generation city girl But gradually we began to settle in. We
moved out to the country, together with made wonderful new friends, and loved
a friend from Helsinki who originally having fields and forests around us.
only intended to help me move. Nature inspired many of my pictures.
Soon came our first winter in the We never forgot the city complete-
old, slightly rundown rural school ly though. Work made sure of that. And
building. The autumn evenings soon it was often a treat to go to town to see
became unbelievably dark. There were a film or eat out.
no reassuring pools of light around Almost everyone in Finland feels
street lamps. We stoked the stoves somehow close to the countryside.
with wood, and sat by the fireplace. We Summer in the country is sacred – a
had to think up ways to stop the water time when nature shows us its brigh-
pipes freezing. test faces. Finland has half a million
But there was plenty of room, and rural holiday homes for a population of
beautiful farmland around us. In the just five million.
spring the cows would graze beneath We are lucky enough to have two
our windows. In the autumn we picked places in the country. Our summer
mushrooms and made tasty dishes home is in a village on an island in the
with them for our friends from the city. Gulf of Bothnia. Our garden there has
We would hold parties to mark even exposed bedrock worn smooth during
the most insignificant event. Within a the ice age, dotted with pine trees, juni- t h e w r i t e r i S a fa M o u S f i n n i S h a r t i S t
couple of years our first child arrived. per bushes and wild flowers. anD graphic DeSigner.
the circle E By l au r i h a a pa n e n
photo By Sarri KuKKonen
very second, there are two
new mouths to feed in the
world. In late October 2008,
there were about 6.7 billion
people in the world. About a fifth of
them are undernourished. Something
must clearly be done – but what?
U. B. Lindström is a retired profes-
sor of animal breeding and an active
participant to Finnish public discus-
sion. He says the facts are such that
there are no easy fixes. Fertile farmland
and water for irrigation are already in
short supply, world fisheries are over-
fished, and untreated wastewater and
chemical pollution threaten food pro-
duction, biodiversity and our health.
Looks bad, but the professor re-
mains cautiously optimistic about
the world needs more food. at the same time there is no prospects for the future.
“There are good opportunities to
alternative to ecologically sustainable food production, increase yields, even in Africa, and
says a finnish specialist. and that applies just as much to this is a vital factor behind prospects
for improving nutrition levels in devel-
the industralised countries as to the developing countries. oping countries.”
towards People have begun to
self- take self-sufficien-
sufficiency cy and food secu-
rity seriously, 10–15
years too late. According to Lindström,
There are good opportunities to
food production and rural develop- increase the crop yields even in
ment have been neglected in develop- Africa, U.B. Lindström says.
ing countries. The rich countries are
livestock “It gives me a good idea of what’s
being discussed, and then I can search
u.b. lindström, 71, is an
is not a
for the relevant research papers on the emeritus professor of animal
internet – where you can find almost breeding at the university
anything if you just bother to look for of Helsinki and executive
a while.” secretary of the finnish
Lindström says he passes his time Committee for uniCef.
in the way our nomadic ancestors did.
but part of “They would work for a couple of
hours a day, and use the rest of the
time for discussing things and playing
the solution music. Being no musician I prefers to
cycle, swim or go Nordic pole walking.”
partly to blame for this, since by sell- Today women own less than five “The total area of pastureland and
ing their surpluses they have in effect percent of all farmland. But research meadowland around the world is three
hindered the development of local food conducted in many developing coun- times greater than the area of cropland,
production in developing countries. tries has shown that if women are given and it would be impossible to manage
Lindström is not happy about the equal opportunities to produce food these areas without cattle, goats, sheep,
inclusion of foodstuffs in the global – the same training, tools and seeds – camels and other ruminants.”
free trade system. Food cannot be pro- they can produce 20–25 per cent more But effective livestock farming
duced in the same way as manufac- from the same plots of farmland than must be based on the use of grasses as
tured goods like cars, since the impact men. the main fodder for ruminants, while
of climatic conditions is so crucial. “Women are more persistent and by-products from breweries, flour mills
According to Lindström, it is wrong skilled food producers, and that’s an and cooking oil production are used
that the free trade system and the pro- asset. Otherwise the situation in Africa to feed monogastric livestock such as
duction of ‘cheap food’ have steamroll- would be even worse than it is today,” pigs and poultry. Finland and the other
ered over important ethical, ecological Lindström notes. industrialised countries have set a poor
and social issues. Crop yields in developing countries example in this respect, with cereals ac-
“There’s no turning the clock back must be boosted, but at the same time counting for as much as 80 per cent of
to the days before free trade, but ecolog- inputs such as chemical fertilisers and the diets of ruminant livestock.
ical and social factors have to be given energy can only be used sparingly. For- “For now just a fifth of all the cere-
more priority,” he stresses. tunately, research findings indicate that als grown in developing countries are
Crop yields in developing coun- small-scale farmers adopting ecological fed to livestock, but there, too, they are
tries have gradually been increasing as farming practices can increase yields in heading in the same direction we’ve
population growth rates have slowed, developing countries by as much as 80 taken. This would be a particularly dan-
but food aid from the industrialised per cent compared to more conventional gerous road for developing countries,”
countries will still be needed in future. forms of cultivation in the same areas. says Lindström.
This should not be allowed to become a “Particularly in areas with unfa-
permanent solution, however. vourable conditions, ecological farming surfing Lindström closely follows
is the rational alternative, since poor for the and participates in public
a key In many developing coun- small-scale farmers cannot afford major latest debate on climate change,
role for tries changes should com- investments,” adds Lindström. findings genetic technology and
women mence with land reforms A question much debated at the energy production, as
giving small-scale farmers moment is the claim that farm animals well as the global food crisis. He is an
ownership or at least tenant’s rights are eating food that should be eaten by avid reader, but at 71 he’s exchanged
over the land they work. It is particu- people. Lindström, however, sees live- the heavy-weight science weekly Scien-
larly important to improve the position stock not as a problem, but as part of tist for New Scientist, a journal more
of women. the solution. popular in style.
By t i i a l a p pa l a i n e n
44 p h o t o S K r e e t ta j ä r v e n p ä ä 45
Demand for organic foodstuffs in finland is on a climbing curve. the kivi family’s piggy
bank farm raises pigs organically, and customers are convinced that their pork tastes better.
to roam T
he first obvious difference plains farm manager Reetta Kivi. Bright-eyed Piggy Bank Farm
from outside is that this pig The Kivi family’s Piggy Bank Farm, organic pigs is home to about
farm doesn’t smell of pigs. in Karkkila, about 60 kilometres north- 200−300 porkers,
In fact it doesn’t smell bad at west of Helsinki, is one of about a dozen and 20 breeding sows. Kivi also some-
all, even right inside the pig organic pig farms around Finland. Reet- times buys in pigs from another or-
sty. The farm’s organically raised pigs trot ta took over the farm in 2004 from her ganic farm. She does the slaughtering
over to sniff inquisitively at their visitors, parents, who went organic on the rest of and butchering work with help from her
who still have no need to hold their noses. the farm from the 1980s, and then with father, and pork is sold to consumers
“It’s because of the peat we put on their pigs about a decade ago. Reetta is straight from the farm. The farm sells
the ground that there’s no smell,” ex- happy to follow in her parents’ footsteps. about ten pigs worth of meat every weak.
The indoor pens of organically farmed
pigs are covered with soft peat. In their
outdoor pens the pigs can mess about
in their beloved mud.
At Piggy Bank farm as many as ten pigs In addition to running the pig root around in the ground, and also a
reetta Kivi’s working
may live together in a fairly large pen. farm, Kivi helps her husband Timo chance to get out into the fresh air. day is long. Her
During the summer the pigs can get out Koli to farm 35 hectares of land, grow- Organic pigs must also have one husband has a full-
outside through their gate, though in
ing crops including cereals, broad and a half times as much space to live time job, so she has
winter they remain indoors.
beans and peas, all used as fodder for in compared to conventionally raised to run the farm by
the pigs. They prefer to grow fodder pigs. This relative freedom is reflected herself during the
Bright-eyed themselves, since there are strict con-
trols over the feeding regimes of pigs
in their brighter eyes. One of the pigs
explores its indoor stall, while another
day. Her son toivo is
often looked after by
his grandparents, who
organic pigs sold as organic. At least 90 per cent of
their diet must consist of organically
digs around in the mud in its outdoor
pen. From time to time the pigs grunt
also live on the farm.
trot over to sniff produced fodder.
Requirements on the conditions
loudly as if to communicate complaints
or orders to other members of the herd.
inquisitively at where organic pigs must be kept also
mean extra work. The pigs need to
The breeding sows are loose in
their pens with their piglets. It is wide-
their visitors. have a suitably stimulating environ-
ment, and opportunities to follow
ly believed that on organic pig farms
many piglets are crushed to death by
natural their behaviour patterns. This their mothers, but this is misleading.
means they must have enough space to “Some time ago a litter of nine
48 organic 49
and sales are
The pigs are fed organic grain, broad
beans and peas. These crops are grown
on the kivi’s farm in rotation with rye
and timothy grass. All of the grain grown
here is used as fodder for the pigs.
piglets was born. When we eventually
weaned them all nine were still there,”
“There are differences between
sows. Some do just flop down careless-
ly. But when pigs are allowed to move
more freely, they also get more care-
ful. Some of them are very fussy when
they look for a place to sit down.”
a bright Organic food pro-
future for duction and sales
organic foods are clearly rising
in Finland. About
seven percent of the country’s farm-
land, an area of around 160,000 hect-
ares, is cultivated organically. About
one in ten of Finland’s 5,000 organic
farms also raise livestock organically.
In 2007, sales of organic foods in-
creased by ten percent, and they now
account for about 0.9 per cent of all around,” says Kivi. “If we were located the parents of children in day care cen-
foodstuff sales. About four percent of near Hamburg, for instance, we’d be do- tres would like their kids to eat more
consumers routinely opt for organic ing a roaring trade.” organically produced foods.
alternatives, while a further 16 per Kivi herself tries to buy organic Feedback from Piggy Bank Farm’s
cent buy organic products regularly. whenever possible. She is optimistic customers has been uniformly positive.
In spite of a slight increase in about the future for organic products in Some describe their pork as being more
sales, organic pork has not made a Finland. This has been an excellent year tender than normal pork, while some
commercial breakthrough in Finland for the farm. Kivi has been able to sell all families’ kids are now refusing to eat
as yet. Meat products account for just of the farm’s meat as organic, whereas any non-organic pork.
over 6 per cent of all sales of organic normally some share of their production
foodstuffs. Organic pork is scarce in has had to be sold at lower prices as con-
ordinary supermarkets, as most organ- ventionally produced pork.
ic pig farms operate like Piggy Bank Kivi’s customers include vegetarian organic pigs are never transported
long distances. The farm has its own
Farm, selling direct to customers. housewives who insist that their carniv- slaughterhouse. Reetta kivi butchers
“Producers aren’t in contact with orous husbands should only eat organic pigs to order, and the farm would have
consumers. There are no middle men meat. Recent research has shown that enough work to hire a second butcher.
the willows buffer zones along watercourse benefit both farmers and the environment.
B y t u u l i v i r ta armer Jouko Haasto zones are not among the schemes com-
photoS Seppo SaMuli strides through his fields pulsory measures, however. Instead
in Vihti, about an hour’s they are set up through special subsidy
Water protection measures can make drive northwest of Hel- agreements that guarantee farmers an-
life easier for farmers, says Jouko sinki, and stops by a river nual subsidies to cover management
bank beneath a gently sloping field. costs and compensate for lost income.
“I set up my second buffer zone By the end of 2007 buffer zones
here by the River Vihti in 2005,” he with a total area of some 7,500 hect-
says, pointing to a strip of land about ares had been set up around Finland –
15 metres wide. including about ten hectares of Jouko
A large stretch of land used to get Haasto’s land.
flooded in spring and autumn, and its “You can really see how eutrophi-
nutrients would be washed into the cation is affecting rivers and lakes.
river. The buffer zone has helped to Buffer zones are designed to prevent
prevent soil loss, and the land has been this problem by curbing the leaching
easier to cultivate. of nutrients into watercourses,” says
Haasto plants most of his 87 hec- Haasto.
tare farm with spring and autumn “I feel close to the land as a person,
wheat and rapeseed. It is easy to see and farming is my way of life. Nature
where the field ends and the buffer is also important to me, so I also care
zone begins. Fertilisers or pesticides about the state of the environment. I
are not applied in the buffer zone, re- want to do everything I can to help the
sulting in sparser vegetation growth. environment and our rivers and lakes.”
The buffer zone is planted with Timo-
thy-grass, which is mown at the end of Branching Haasto has culti-
summer and sold to a neighbour as fod- out into vated the same land
der for his horses. new fields all his life, having
purchased the farm
stop to The establishment of buf- complete with a large farmhouse from
erosion fer zones is an important his parents. His parents used to keep-
aim of Finland’s agri-en- ing dairy cattle and grow cereals. Now
vironmental subsidy scheme. Buffer that Finland is in the EU that farm is
buffer zones are belts of farmland
at least 15 metres wide alongside
watercourses, permanently covered with
vegetation. they are set up to reduce
the leaching of eroded soil, nutrients,
pesticides and other potentially
harmful substances into rivers, lakes,
groundwater, and ultimately also the
sea. they additionally help to increase
biodiversity by providing habitats for
wild farmland plants and animals.
vegetation is preserved in buffer
zones all year round. they may be mown
annually, with the resultant vegetation
used as fodder or for other purposes.
buffer zones are established through
special agri-environmental subsidy
agreements, which complement basic
and additional measures within the
subsidies scheme. Compulsory basic too small for viable dairy farming. a bright Haasto points from his Preserving vegetation in buffer zones
measures include obligatory protective Haasto’s parents also used to hire future upstairs window to his along river banks stops excess nutrients
verges of vegetation at least a metre farm-workers. Now that machines take ahead farm’s other, smaller entering the water from farmland.
wide alongside main drainage ditches, care of most things there is no call for buffer zone, which he
and a minimum of three metres wide extra manpower. set up in 2004. He is pleased with his
beside larger watercourses. “The neighbours would think it zones and hopes to replace the current Lasse is keen to continue working the
it has been possible for finnish odd if we started to work the farm with five-year protection contracts, due to family farm.
farmers to establish wider protective horses,” laughs Haasto. run out soon, with new ten-year deals. “He went off to study in Helsin-
buffer zones under special agreements In the post-war years half of Fin- EU subsidies represent a lifeline ki, but came back from the concrete
ever since the first agri-environmental land’s workers earned their bread in for Finnish small-scale farmers. Larger jungle when he began to feel the pull
subsidy programme commenced in agriculture. But today only the big and farms also still greatly depend on such of the land. He was able to get a per-
1995. such agreements can be made for the bold can live by farming alone. support. Haasto reckons that the EU manent job nearby a fireman, and he’s
periods of five or ten years, with farmers More and more farmers have been has changed Finnish farming radically. built a house here on our land.”
compensated for establishing and forced to diversify and earn their liv- “Prices dropped immediately. Firemen often work long shifts, but
managing buffer zones, as well as lost ing from various parallel occupations. Long-term thinking disappeared. then have several consecutive days off.
income from crop sales. “We have additional earnings from There’s an atmosphere of constant “That gives him a chance to help
doing contract work with the machines, change,” he explains. on the farm. Lasse has also been on EU
and from forestry. My wife works for The future of Haasto’s own farm courses. It feels good to know that the
the town council providing child care.” seems rosy, however. His middle son work I’ve been doing will be continued.”
54 Successful 55
rural policy Finnish fish
The Finnish model of rural policy has been quite success-
ful in achieving coherence among sectoral policies orient-
ed to rural areas and in tailoring specific programmes to Exports of Finnish fish and fish products rose consider-
promote rural development. This is one of the main con- ably during 2007. The year’s exports amounted to a record
clusions of the OECD Rural Policy Review on Finland. 35 million euros – more than 60 per cent up on the previous
Presenting the review, Mr Nicola Crosta, Head of year. Almost 70 per cent of Finland’s fish exports went east,
OECD’s Rural Development Unit, said Finland’s Rural to Russia. Exports largely consisted of frozen Baltic herring
Policy Committee has played a crucial role in the govern-
ance of rural policy, bringing together diverse actors and
Imports into Finland of fish for the table also increased
advocating for rural communities in Finland. last year, to 65 million kilos – some 10 million kilos more UneSCo wonders
Key priorities for the future include the delivery of than in 2006. The total value of annual fish imports is now Seven of the sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List are in
public services to the ageing and dispersed population around 211 million euros, having almost tripled since the Finland. The National Land Survey of Finland has published
more equitably and efficiently, enhancing the competi- early 1980s. a new, beautifully illustrated brochure featuring all seven of
tiveness of the growing number of non-farm related rural Imports of fresh fish have increased Finland’s UNESCO-listed natural and historical wonders.
firms, and improving the business environment in rural most, with salmon rising fastest of The Old Town of Rauma has the most extensive sur-
i l l u S t r at i o n S B y v u o K K o i S o h e r r a n e n
areas by fully utilising their abundant natural amenities. all. Per capita consumption of hey, p viving district of wooden houses in the Nordic region. The
Finland is one of the most rural countries within the salmon in Finland rose to 2.9 kg guys, sst... Fortress of Suomenlinna, founded in 1748 on offshore
OECD and it is also one of the early adopters of a multi- (filleted weight) in 2007, up 0.7 squee re islands to guard nearby Helsinki, is one of Finland’s best
We ar ing me.
sectoral approach to rural policy. The review offers a
unique look at how Finnish rural policy has evolved since
kg on the previous year. Almost
half of Finland’s fish imports
remem no sardin
ber? es, Finland at the World loved historical sights. Petäjävesi’s Old Church in Central
Finland is a prized relic from the golden age of wooden
the initial recommendations given in 1995.
www.oecd.org -> publications -> by country -> Finland
originated from Norway.
www.rktl.fi organic Trade Fair church architecture.
Verla Groundwood and Board Mill in Southeastern
Finnish organic producers will jointly exhibit at the Bio- Finland is a uniquely well preserved window into the early
fach 2009 World Organic Trade Fair in Nuremberg, Germa- days of industry in Finland. The ancient Burial Cairns of
ny. Finland is a significant producer of organic foodstuffs Sammallahdenmäki in Southwestern Finland give visitors
for European markets, especially when it comes to organic a rare insight into the mysteries of Scandinavian Bronze
Dairy farms oats, wild berries, potato products and high-quality rape- Age culture.
switching to seed. Another UNESCO wonders are The Struve Geodetic
Arc and The Kvarken Archipelago.
beef and cereals
On the agenda
Since the turn of the millennium almost 10,000 Finnish
farms have stopped dairy production. About a third of
Thousands of processed snacks baited with rabies vaccine
these farms now grow cereals, and another third have
have been airdropped in forests near the Finnish-Russian
abandoned farming altogether.
Almost one in five now concentrate on crops other
border annually since 1990, and twice a year – each spring
and autumn – since 2003. No cases of rabies have been diag- networking
than cereals, and about 13 per cent still raise cattle for oth-
er purposes. Over the last five years the number of farms
nosed in Finland for more than 19 years, with the exception
of two animals imported in 2003 and 2007, which had to be
in rural Finland
keeping suckler cows for beef production has increased promptly put down when found to be infected. The Finnish Rural Network brings together the various
almost as rapidly as the numbers of dairy farms have de- Russia carries out similar vaccine air drops east of the actors involved in rural development programmes, including
clined. border. The EU and its neighbours are seeking to work to- action groups, individual citizens, entrepreneurs, associa-
The average age of the farmers abandoning dairy gether more closely to combat rabies, and Finland and Rus- tions and advisory organisations.
farming is about 57. This is when dairy farmers have tra- sia have already led the way for several years. The Finnish Rural Network Unit of the Ministry of Ag-
ditionally passed on their farms to the next generation of The occurrence of rabies in wild animals and the effec- riculture and Forestry was set up in autumn 2007 to coor-
younger farmers, who have typically been aged around 34 tiveness of the airdropped vaccine baits are closely moni- dinate the network’s activities and provide the necessary
when taking over the herds. tored. The authorities have called on hunters and hikers to back-up services. These tasks concern all the four axes
The dairy farms stopping production tend to be small. submit samples of any foxes or raccoon dogs killed or found of Finland’s rural development strategy and the related
The average size of the dairy farms that ceased operating dead in the border region to the Fish and Wildlife Health Re- programmes. The unit also publicises opportunities and
in the year 2000 was around 18 hectares. search Unit of Evira, for examination. achievements related to rural development programmes.
www.mmmtike.fi www.evira.fi www.rural.fi
ministry of agriculture and forestry, finland www.mmm.fi
agency for rural affairs www.mavi.fi
employment and economic development centres www.te-keskus.fi
finnish environment institute www.environment.fi/syke
finnish food safety authority evira www.evira.fi
finnish game and fisheries research institute www.rktl.fi
finnish geodetic institute www.fgi.fi
forestry centres www.metsakeskus.fi
forestry development centre tapio www.tapio.fi
Hunters’ central organization www.riista.fi
information centre of the ministry of agriculture and forestry
mtt agrifood research finland www.mtt.fi
National land survey of finland www.nls.fi
university of Helsinki www.helsinki.fi