From Cows to Sauna on the sea: Great nordic experience in Finland

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From September 22 to 24 2019 the Finnish Guild has organised a very interesting Low Budget Press trip in association with the national Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Informal Meeting of EU Ministers for Agriculture.

Reported by Adrian Kerbs

We were started programme visiting an organic farm with a focus on greenhouse production in Västerskog Puutarhatoimisto Ahlberg Oy, Helsinki region, where local farmer Kaaijus Ahlberg showed us around and presented his production of all sorts of vegetables and herbs. The could see sustainability on a high level because they are heating the greenhouses with woodchips from the Finnish woods, that covers about 65 per cent of the country surface.

At the early evening, we met Brussels based colleagues for a first Sauna visit in Helsinki downtown. It was amazing to have a great sunset finished with dinner in a traditional restaurant.

The second day was packed with visits and dedicated to a presentation of Finnish Bioeconomy. We started at a plant for the biofuels production Neste Oyj, Kilpilahti and moved on at Wathén organic dairy farm in the municipality of Hausjärvi were our hosts Ajno and Mikael milk 51 cows for the Valio cooperative dairy. It was interesting to find out how they run the farm in the 11th generation.

After this, we visited Transfarm, a leading production and trade company for Caraway in Riihimäki. It was quite surprising to see such an exotic culture being so important in Finland.

Lunch was hosted by The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK) at Knehtilä Farm, that describes itself as following: «Knehtilä is at the centre of a cooperative food production system based on energy and nutrient self-sufficiency. This multi-enterprise network, located in Hyvinkää, is the first of its kind in Finland. It aims to produce local, organic food using bioenergy and recycled nutrients. This cooperative will serve as a model for organic food production and processing which is truly energy and nutrient self-sufficient.»

At the afternoon we went on to a picturesque country house in Western Uusimaa region, where we had the opportunity to interview the EU ministers present at the meeting and had a coffee with them.

Later, in the evening we enjoyed another atmospheric Sauna and had excellent dinner, after an interesting presentation about EU Ag-News by Pekka Pesonen, Secretary-General of COPA-COGECA.

Tuesday morning was dedicated to the ministers’ Media conference at Finlandia Hall in downtown Helsinki, where we got some info about the relatively limited results of the meeting. It was one of the last possibilities to see Phil Hogan in action as Agriculture and Food Commissioner because he will now change into the Trade DG.

I would like to thank the colleagues of the Finnish Guild for the excellent organisation and their warm reception of our group. Kiitos!

Author: Adrian Krebs