Organic starch potatoes grown in Estonia and Latvia

In early July on the way to the 7th Ifoam Conference in Vilnius we took the opportunity to visit a few organic farms. First in Estonia close to Rapla we visited the farmer Tõnu Kriisa who produces mainly organic beef on 300 hectares but has also a few hectares of  potatoes. He has a small contract with Aloja Starkelsen for starch potatoes – he is one of two Estonian organic farmers producing organic starch potato for Aloja. Tõnu Kriisa is a pioneer of organic farming in Estonia – actually I have met him the first time a long time ago in late 1980’s when he was studying biodynamic farming in Finland.

 

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

Tonu Kriisa proudly showing his organic potato field.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

Potato blooming at Tonu Kriisa farm.

In Latvia we stopped at Aloja Starkelse and joined the organic farm excursion that was arranged for the board members of the Swedish Lyckeby-Culinar – mostly farmers themselves. Our first visit was to Sigmars Logins in Krimuldas. He has 470 hectares organic cultivation of which 47 hectares organic starch potato for Aloja Starkelsen. On the field we visited he is cultivating the “Kuras” variety which has a good resistance against blight. He expects to get 17-21 tons per hectare harvest.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

Organic farmer Sigmars Logins and Aloja Starkelse Ltd’s agronomist Aiga Kraukle at Sigmars’ starch potato field.

 

Our second visit was to Andrejs Hansons and his vermicompost facility where California red worms transform potato pulp and other organic material into compost. The vermicompost is supposed to have a stimulating effect on soil microbiology and it is also hoped that it could to some extent build the plants resistance towards potato late blight. According to Andrejs Hansons just postponing late blight for 1-2 weeks would have great value in terms of starch yield. Andrejs who is the former managing director of Aloja Starkelesen, is also a producer of organic starch potatoes. We visit his fields where there are also impressive field tests for different varieties of starch potatoes and fertilizers including the vermicompost.

 

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

Vermicomposting at Ekotri Ltd.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

“California red worm” or red worm, Eisenia fetida, is adapted to decaying organic material.

 

Slideshow of the photos from Estonia visits:

 

Slideshow of the photos from Latvia visits:

 

More information at organicpotatostarch.com

 

Kücükkuyu, Turkey

Our second visit in Turkey was to Kücukkuyu and especially Dedetepe which is also a part of the TaTuTa or Turkish wwoofing network. Even though Dedetepe farm does produce olives it could rather be described as a ecovillage with a very international flavor as it is very popular among wwoofers from other European countries. At the time of our visit the team working at Dedetepe included young people from France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Palestine and of course Turkey. The gallery includes a few photos of Dedetepe; here is the Hamam which of course impressed us coming from Finand, the Sauna-country. Unfortunately we didn’t get to test it. It was hot anyway – which of course for us Finns is not a reason not to go to sauna, but…

The Dedetepe hamam. (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

The Dedetepe hamam.

The Italian couple Alessandro and Stefanio where responsible for baking and I tried to make a series of the baking process. Even though they used yeast instead of sour dough they where experienced bakers and used a low dosage of yeast and a long leavening process with the whole process from initially preparing the dough to ready baked bread taking 4 hours. Here is Alessandro with the breads out of the oven.

The bread is out of the oven. (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

Alessandro with the bread out of the oven.

Every Friday the whole group goes down to the open market in Kücükkuyu for shopping the weeks vegetables. They have their favorite growers who are known to use traditional cultivation methods and no pesticides. However none of the growers at the market is certified organic. This lady is number one and she gets to sell quite a few baskets of vegetables to Dedetepe every week.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

Mohammed receiving the cucumbers from Dedetepe’s favorite vegetable grower.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

Abundance of vegetables.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

Camtepe – designed by Victor Ananias – is Bugday Association’s education center on the mountain-side above Kücükkuyu.

A few kilometres up the hill is Camtepe, Bugday Associations ecologically built education center.

We also participated in the “Big Jump” to protect European rivers walking up the Mihli river behind Dedetepe to the old bridge with the whole Dedetepe team including people who had just arrived at Dedetepe for a family camp.

Big Jump to protect the rivers. (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

Big Jump to protect the rivers at Mihli river.

Watch the gallery slideshow here:

Cazgirlar village and Agrida organic farm

After just one night in Istanbul our trip to Turkey in July 2013 started with a visit to Cazgirlar village in the Bayramiç district, Çanakkale Province. The village has only 50 people and is pretty much as remote as you can get in these parts. Many of the young people have left the village and a lot of houses are in bad shape due to no maintenance for years. It can be picturesque but not so good for living in. New life has been brought to the village by Agrida organic farm which participates in the TaTuTa system of Bugday association. This brings Wwoofers to the farm and village like Luis from Portugal who kindly showed us around the village and fields and pine forests around. We didn’t get to know that much about the farming side of the Agrida but seeing how the milk collection works in the village was very interesting. The atmosphere in the village is nice and it would certainly be worth a larger photography project.

 

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

The village has a drinking spot for the animals. Many families seem to have 3-5 milking cows.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

Next to the mosque and çayhane there is a small building with the villages milk tank. The milk is brought in, weighed and poured into the tank. The volumes are written into the notebook on the chair. A dairy truck fetches the milk.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

In the evening Luis showed us the fields above the village.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

And in the morning we went to the pine-forest on the other side of the village. Luis meditating on a rock.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

There is a lot of wild-life in and around Cazgirlar village. The dung beetle was fun to watch.

 

For the rest of the photos visit the photo gallery or watch the slideshow below.