Knehtilä Farm got the WWF Baltic Sea Farmer of the Year -award

 

Knehtilä WWF

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finnish couple Markus Eerola and Minna Sakki-Eerola are today presented with the WWF Baltic Sea Farmer of the Year Award at a ceremony in Stralsund, Germany. They are awarded for their precise and innovative techniques that have created optimal soil structure and successful retention of nutrients at their organic crop farm Knehtilä. The Award was created six years ago by WWF to recognize the importance of farmers who are taking active steps to reduce nutrient runoff to the Baltic Sea.

Markus Eerola and Minna Sakki-Eerola have done a remarkable job for the environment on their 340 hectares of arable land since the 1990s. They have been interested in Baltic friendly farming for a long time and paid attention to soil structure and tilling methods long before shifting to organic farming in 2010. The Award winners have substantially reduced their use of fertilizers through nutrient recycling methods of buffer zones and grasslands to produce green manure.

”Winning the Finnish competition was already an honor for us – winning the regional one is just unbelievable. It gives us strength to keep up our work; sharing good practices and collaborating with different actors. After all, cooperation and positive attitude are central to be able to achieve a more sustainable agriculture,” says Markus Eerola.

Precision agriculture methods form the basis for all activities at the Knehtilä farm. This includes using advanced technology to analyze the soils and adapting use of equipment to fit different conditions. These efforts have resulted not only in optimal soil structure and reduced nutrient runoff, but also in optimal yields and increased economic returns for their farm.

“The most important environmental work is holistic, so we take environmental aspects into consideration in all our operations. Environmental-friendly agriculture is also a trump card for us when it comes to marketing of our farm products,” says Markus Eerola.

Knehtilä is an excellent example where the environmental issues are integrated into the everyday activities of the farm and taken into account comp in food production. Good functioning of the numerous examples such as the leaching of soil and water protection zones have prevented nutrients from leaving the farm.

”Longterm agri-environmental measures keep the countryside alive and diverse. We need more good practice examples like the Knehtilä Farm to showcase how production can be developed sustainably. It provides added value for the farmer, other interests of society and the environment, both on land and at sea,” says Elina Erkkilä, WWF Finland’s conservation officer.

Farmers are part of the solution
The WWF Baltic Sea Farmer of the Year Award is a competition intended to inspire farmers in the entire Baltic Sea region to take an active part in combating eutrophication. It was launched in 2009 by WWF in cooperation with farmers’ organisations from around the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea is still one of the most threatened seas in the world. Eutrophication, or over-fertilization, has been identified as the single most important threat to its health and agricultural runoff is the main cause.

”Farmers are often blamed for the problems we face today with the Baltic Sea. With this award we can truly showcase and raise awareness about all the good initiatives being practiced in the region to achieve more environmentally friendly farming”, says Erkkilä.

The purpose of the Award is to highlight best practices in “Baltic-friendly” farming and to recognise and promote farmers who are taking innovative measures to reduce nutrient runoff from their farms.

“Farmers are part of the solution and are the best in teaching each other about new practices to change the future for the Baltic Sea.”

For more information, contact:
Markus Eerola, Farmer
Tel: +358 400 489 350
markus.eerola@gmail.com

Elina Erkkilä, Conservation Officer, WWF Finland
Tel:  +358 50 5224540
elina.erkkila@wwf.fi

 


Knehtilä Farm
– Organic farming combined with meeting facilities, country shop and cafe

Knehtilä Farm specializes in organic agriculture and also provides meeting facilities with menu-by-order services.

It is located in the village of Palopuro in Hyvinkää, only 50 km from Helsinki. At the heart of the farm there is a cafe-shop-meeting facility: an old barn converted into a truly multifunctioning space where you can organize your business and private events and festivities in a beautiful, serene environment. The menus available for order are based on own organic produce and ingredients sourced from other nearby organic farms.

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The farm shop stocks Knehtilä’s own, local and other Finnish organic groceries and well-being products, and also handicraft by various Finnish designers and artisans, most of which firmly based on recycling ideals.

Markus Eerola and Minna Sakki-Eerola are the owners of the farm. Markus is the one who mainly runs the farming business while Minna takes care of the cafe, meeting facilities and the shop. On top of all this, they both hold a degree in Arts: Markus is a glass designer and Minna designs and prints fabrics.

A history of 200 years
Knehtilä’s history goes back a long way. The farm came to Markus Eerola’s family over 200 years ago, in 1796. In the midst of their land there runs Finland’s oldest railway track that was opened for traffic in 1862.

The barn, nowadays with the multifunctional cafe-shop-meeting space, was built in 1933 after the previous older barn was struck by lightning and burnt. Until 1986 there was also cattle but since then Knehtilä farm has focused in cultivation only.

The current manor house was built in 1935. Markus and Minna are the 8th generation running and living on the farm.

In 2014, the repurposing of the barn was completed after thorough renovation works, and the new space specifically designed and equipped for meetings and festivities as well as the country cafe with its nicely fitted-in kitchen were opened. The shop had already existed before but in a much smaller form.

Organic agriculture with respect to nature
The Knehtilä fields have been cultivated using organic methods since 2010. The fields cover a total of 340 hectares. Currently the harvest is mainly winter and spring wheat, oats, barley, peas and buckwheat. At any given time, on a third of the total area Markus grows green fertilizers, i.e. vegetation to be ploughed into the soil as a source of nutrients.

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Nutrients run-off to waterways from the fields is prevented with protective zones that have been established along all ditches and creeks.

Organic farming supports the functions of the cafe as many of the ingredients used in the kitchen come from own fields. The customers greatly value the fact that the menus are based on organic produce without any chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Holding a meeting at the farm
Knehtilä is a beautiful and calm setting for you to organize the big meeting, a seminar or just an off-site planning day with your team!

The meeting facility in the converted barn has room for approx. 100 persons. In addition to having the nice and functional space for yourselves, you can order a menu of your choice: anything from breakfast to dinner. See photos of meeting space and the farm.

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Knehtilä Farm is located only 50 km from Helsinki, about 45 minutes by car; and easily accessible (6 km) from both Hyvinkää and Jokela railway stations. Check the exact location on the map.

Interested? 
Book your meeting by emailing Minna at minna.knehtila@gmail.com or call, tel. +358 40 561 9797.