As Nature Intended:Organic Farming in Finland  
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Hallo, eco-friendly viewers, and welcome to Planet Earth: Our Loving Home on Supreme Master Television.  

Organic farming is now a rising trend in greening the world’s environment. Among the many countries involved in this sustainable agricultural movement is Finland, one of the northern most countries on Earth.

Finland, Europe’s seventh-largest country, stretches across the Arctic Circle as well as the Scandinavian and Kola Peninsulas. Her breathtaking landscape was created by the recession of continental glaciers over 10,000 years ago.

Forests cover 69% of Finland and are often found as a feature of the country’s numerous family farms. Even though cold weather restricts agriculture, the nature-loving Finnish people have created 155,000 hectares of certified organic farmland and the government began to subsidize organic famers as early as the 1990s.

Finland’s organic farms continue to provide the very best of services to sustain the country’s biodiversity and ecosystem.  

How do Finland’s farmers maintain organic farming in their cold northern climate? What new frontiers in organic agriculture can Finnish farmers reveal to us?

Today, we will embark on a journey to visit an organic farm in Finland, the Labby Biodynamic Farm.

Janne (m):
This is Labby Farm in southern Finland. Labby is an organic farm and has been that way for about 20 years now. Labby is an old farm. There has existed a farm here for many hundreds of years, but in the late 1980s, the owner of the farm Johan was then a young man and decided that he wanted to turn the conventional farm into an organic and a biodynamic farm.

And since then, a group of people or groups of people have been working on the different parts of this farm. We grow here both products on the fields, agricultural products, and then in the gardens, which is where I work, produces herbs for tea and spices.

And on the fields is grown grain, bread grain, and, then green manure crops. About European
agricultural policy, one positive aspect is that they support the taking care of the landscape, like the meadow areas you see behind us.

And the European Union gives farmers money for keeping animals out in the pastures in order to keep the landscapes. In Finland, only 1% of the meadow landscape that existed a hundred years ago is still remaining, and there is many plants, insects and birds that only live in this kind of landscape. So, the animals are doing nature conservation work and are making biodiversity in this landscape.

The Labby Biodynamic Farm, located on the Pernajanlahti Bay, aims toward self-sufficient biodynamic cultivation. Forests, cultivated fields and traditional biotopes together form a free home for calving cows, native sheep and an indigenous horse.

The main products are spelt wheat, herbs and vegetables, which are processed into herbal tea and seasoning mixtures and muesli.

Here on the Labby Farm, the grain that is grown is turned into flour for making bread, and oat flakes for making porridge, for example, breakfast cereal which is made of spelt and other grains, and then it has dried apples and sunflower seeds.

Spelt is an old variety of wheat that has been grown in Europe for many hundreds of years but which was almost forgotten, but luckily now, it’s been rediscovered. Spelt is a very healthy, nutritious grain which for example, for people who are ill, is very easy to digest and gives a lot of nutrients to people.

In our modern diet, you could say Western diet, there is usually too much white grain and too little whole grain. White grain has been basically stripped of everything except the starch.

The whole grain, however, is a perfect nutrition for the human body because it, in itself, contains the vitamins and enzymes which the body needs to break down the starch.

That’s why when we eat grain, we should make sure that it’s not white, but a whole grain, if we want to live healthy.

This farm, which exemplifies the concept of organic biodynamic farming, offers learning opportunities for people who are interested.

The treatment of soil, fertilizer and related green manure and compost reveal the crucial differences between organic and conventional farming.

Audio: Interview_Introduction of Labby Farm  

In conventional chemical agriculture, the soil is just a medium where the plants are grown and chemicals are added to it. In organic agriculture, the soil, the plant, the animal and the human make a living whole, a living system where each part is important.

And an important input to that is made by the cows, by the animals. On the farm, there's cows and there’s sheep who are taking care of the valuable landscape here, and they produce the manure that is the basis of our fertilization.

In organic agriculture, the fertility of the soil is guaranteed by use of compost, which is made from both animal manure and of course plant materials and also kitchen waste. And this compost brings more life to the soil.

It is food for the microorganisms and the worms and all the life that is within the soil. That is
the main difference between organic and conventional agriculture.

Interview_Green House

In organic agriculture and organic gardening, the nutrients of the plants must come from organic sources, whether it’s from animal manure or composted plant waste or from natural nitrogen fixation.

That is a real miracle of nature, the ability of bacteria that are living in the roots of the leguminous plants like clover and peas and beans, are able to fix nitrogen from the air. And this is one central theme in organic agriculture.

The basic principle is that you should have at least, let’s say, 30%, preferably up to 50% of the farm, each year, should be under green manure.

That means growing clover mixed with hay that can then later be either fed to the animals or then composted.

Biodynamic farming is a specific type of organic farming. Biodynamic agriculture treats soil, plants, animals and the ecology as a unified organic whole.

Austrian philosopher and spiritualist Rudolf Steiner first coined the term “biodynamic farming” in the 1920s. He saw farming as a series of work projects to keep up with the cosmic calendar, which he called “the breath of the Earth.”

He invented the method of using nine preparations to apply to the soil, plants and compost. These preparations serve as both nourishment and medicine for the soil, plants and in certain ways, human beings.

Rudolf Steiner’s nine biodynamic preparations are made of special organisms, such as yarrow, chamomile, dandelion or valerian flowers, stinging nettle or oak bark.

Not only are the farms self-sufficient, but they also offer visitors an opportunity to enjoy the fresh products.

Here on the Labby Farm we also try to make it possible for visitors to come and buy products directly from the farm.

Here, for example, is our own garlic and tomatoes, fresh food which is very much a different thing than eating food that has been stored for long periods of time in shops or warehouses.

And then we have, for example, beans and peas and pasta and tomato concentrates as well as
ecological detergents and other substances for cleaning. And we have an ecological coffee and many other organic products in our shop at Labby.

Nothing is more telling about the exquisite quality of Finnish flora than the herbs in the gardens of the Labby Biodynamic Farm. The process of transforming herbs into tea embodies both the love of nature and the essence of Finnish flora.  

So the organic herbs products that we make here are processed here in this room. We work by hand, really, with the herbs.

So basically, we mix, make different kinds of mixtures of herbs for spices and for tea. And of course what we are aiming for there is besides just good taste, we want to make products that are healthy for people who use them.

One very good medicinal herb that can be grown anywhere in the world is calendula. It’s this orange flower. It is perfect for all kinds of infections and we use it in many of our tea products as one of the ingredients. Calendula can also be made into creams and many kinds of medicines or products.

Anise Hyssop has purple flowers and the taste is of anise or licorice. It has a little bit similar taste, actually, to the star anise, which is a familiar herb from Eastern cooking.

We grow the herbs on our farm but we also buy them from elsewhere. For example this star anise that we are using is organically grown in Vietnam (Âu Lạc). It’s a great thing that organic agriculture is spreading around the world.

And we want to also, through our small part, help that by buying products from those people who grow them in other countries also.

The artistic herbal tea bags express nature’s very own creative spirit. As our journey approaches its end today, we would like to thank all the organic and biodynamic farmers in Finland and worldwide for their dedicated efforts in preserving a science that is helpful in preserving our planetary home.