The study trip of AgriCulinary students to Kiipula Gardens teaching garden and the biodynamic Haltijan farm

The visit of AgriCulinary students in Finland was directed to Kiipula Gardens teaching garden in Turenki and the biodynamic Haltijan farm in Vesilahti. At the commercial teaching garden of Kiipula Gardens, summer flowers and vegetables are cultivated in the greenhouse, and organic vegetables, berries, and fruits are grown outdoors.

The head gardener of Kiipula introduced the students to greenhouse production and the cultivation methods of the currently growing crops. In the heated  greenhouse, relatives of eggplants and potatoes, as well as trunk tomatoes and cherry tomato seedlings, were planted at the turn of February-March, with pollination taken care of by bees buzzing in their work every morning.

Water is supplied to the seedlings through a system with added nutrients suitable for tomato seedlings. The tomato seedlings grow upwards along support strings, and lower leaves are regularly removed to prevent sucker formation. As the Finnish summer is short, the height growth of the seedlings is controlled by topping them, allowing the upward growth to focus on ripening already formed flower and fruit clusters. The yield is abundant and is harvested from early April to October.

In the cool greenhouse, seeds of cold-tolerant flowers were sown in various-sized pots and containers. A small yellow pansy seedling was growing vigorously ahead of its companions. The fate of the pansy is grim. The gardener explained that the first flowers are pinched off to strengthen the flower stem, ensuring abundant flowering for people’s enjoyment.

Organic flower seeds are sown in the greenhouse dedicated to organic cultivation, sourced from Sweden among other places. Cultivation is precise and hygienic work.

Flowers are grown with upcoming festivities in mind. The greenhouse already had, among other things, hydrangea seedlings, which are grown for Mother’s Day. Our visit was close to Easter, as evidenced by a yellow daffodil display on the wall next to the entrance of Miinantori, which is open on weekdays year-round and serves as a genuine commercial learning environment for the flower and garden trade and business students of Kiipula Vocational College.

Kiipula Vocational College is a vocational special education institution that provides preparatory education and vocational basic education as special education. At Kiipula, students study not only gardening but also business, restaurant, and tourism, much like at Perho Culinary, Tourism & Business College.

At Haltijan biodynamic farm in Vesilahti

From Kiipula, we traveled to Haltijan farm’s restaurant for lunch, where AgriCulinary students  were served a vegetarian meal made from available vegetables, grains, and herbs. The farm’s restaurant does not have a traditional menu; rather, the dishes are prepared by the chef according to the current situation and follow the grand rhythms of nature.

The land of Haltijan farm is owned by the Biodynamic Farming Foundation. The farm was purchased with the contributions of 238 individuals and communities through crowdfunding, and the lands are managed and maintained according to the principles of biodynamic farming collectively. The aim of the farm is self-sufficiency; food is grown and materials are recycled as far as possible.

Foundation of Haltija Fund and Landholders

The management of the land is the responsibility of the Foundation’s Haltija Fund, through which all Landholders have the opportunity to participate and influence its activities. The land is collectively owned and is being developed towards greater community involvement.

The farm produces vegetables, honey, flowers, beef, and lamb meat, as well as hides and wool. The farm hosts events and courses, and the restaurant operates on weekends.