The first newsletter of this year is being sent out to you in May.. let us think of this as a tribute to the fact that we have not been sitting still!:) and at least some of you will of course have been following what has been happening via social media.
2. Coopday I (the already circulated report of our first Coopday held on February 7th. One of the things presented during that day was a draft of our Oma maa Action plan 2021-2023. We will be having our Annual meeting mid June, and the board has been discussing that during the annual meeting we will address the action plan, whilst still getting back to the collective drafting in a next session following the annual meeting. In the draft plan Oma maa’s call was worded followingly :
Oma maa is inviting on board of an all-year-round ecological community process around Good Agriculture, in which agriculture refers to the cultivating and developing of the land to fulfill people’s need for food as well as other basic needs, and to make good, ecological life possible!
After a half year qualitative process involving the dedication of a number of Oma maa members, we are now set to open Oma maa’s loan circle, which can be seen as the pulling together of community financing in the run up to Oma maa shareholdership! It is urgent for us now to be able to gather resources to finance the necessary investments for Oma maa’s process which have started already last year, and which are taken forward this year.
4. A continued welcome to join in Oma maa’s coproduction! As was also brought to the forefront during the Coopday, beyond a notion of “helping” of our farmers to be producing our food, Oma maa is an invitation for everyone interested to shape a relation towards our Agriculture, and with this bringing our foodsystem more into our hands and governed according to for us important social and ecological values – which is an important cornerstone for systemic change in our society. Big words 🙂 but so at the core as to the ‘Why we are doing what we are doing’.
We are warmly welcoming (and in need of) more participation in Oma maa’s process on the three levels of food membership, co-production, and investments and these coming weeks are important for us to be passing on this message.
Therefore, thank you very much for passing the word of these possibilities to anyone and anywhere you think it could be met with interest! You will be finding the linked to letter also in your foodbags over the next weeks, welcome to pass that on!
July greetings! We are sharing with you here on the main things that happened in the last months – and with this a warm welcome to place a food bag order at a time when our harvest is starting to boom and bloom! We are doing so with a little look back and forward.
Oma Maa’s food week 28 (missing from the picture are tilli and fava beans)
Whilst Covid-19 brought for many in different ways confinement and limitations – looking from the perspective of Oma Maa that was predominantly not the case. As soon as the still wintery weather at the outbreak of the virus made it possible to be outside for the day (because of course also we had to adapt the rules of how to deal responsibly with the inside and outside spaces of the farm and their permanent inhabitants), a larger number of people than normal started coming out to the farm. Also a larger number of orders for the food bags came in leading to a buzzing (prepacking) satojako on Kaarlenkatu, Tuusula and Järvenpää, and suddenly we found ourselves to be in an acknowledged category of ’essential workers’. We did not ‘drive less’, but in effect ‘drove more’, doing corona deliveries to people’s homes as well.
Not that it was no time of concern, question marks, adaptation and tensions also for us. Nevertheless, we consciously chose throughout our communications to not engage in any Covid-porn. Instead we chose to keep on telling and showing what we were doing in practice, in relation to our overarching goals of the upkeep of food sovereignty and biodiversity, i.e in relation to the systemic change which is necessary, and of which Covid-19 in itself is but a symptom of.
And we did so much together! (Thank You everyone!)
It is fair to say that the additional both human and monetary resources gained during these months were not left idle, but immediately put to use, for investment objectives which in itself are yet meant to find other (then food bags sale income) funding sources (we will be getting back to our investment campaigning a bit later this year). The things we did together, the mentioned investment areas, can be broken down into two areas:
*Farming technical investments
We are wanting to be avoiding mechanical tilling to a maximum, and are growing more and more seedlings in our greenhouse and tunnels, before they are planted on the land.
Towards this objective, this spring we put into use a second leg for our planting machine, making it possible for two rows to be sown at the same time.
This summer we planted 3000 new strawberry seedlings, using our seed(ling) planting machine
Getting things right with regards to the blocks and the planting machine is something we will yet be working further on next year!
Our soilblocker blocking
And thirdly, we set up a large wooden tunnel next to the greenhouse which we took over from a farmer in Turku to be able to grow yet more plants under a cover (our greenhouse, ‘tunneli’ and ‘chilitalo’ have been getting full!). Currently tomatoes are growing there.
The new tunnel. Today it already has its cover, windows and almost its doors!
We want to every year be able to enlarge the polyculture of our agroforestry and to diversify our forest garden, where already at the moment grow dozens of different kinds of fruit trees and berry bushes. This serves Oma Maa’s ecosystem, this serves also our being able to have fruits for an ever longer period of the year.
Towards this objective, this spring we planted rows of fruit trees (in each row different (apple) pear trees are alternating with gooseberries, plums and a few nut trees), which are alternating with rows of berry bushes as well as vegetable raised beds where we planted among other zucchinis and tomatoes. Whilst the fruit trees will only mature in 10 years, they will bear more and more fruit from year to year.
The making of the raised beds and the planting of the fruittrees in April, and the same area in July!
We also laid out an irrigation system to several vegetable fields, fruit trees, greenhouses, and food forest. A pump is now pumping water up from a small pond in between Tuusula lake and the farm, into a main pipe which leads to the greenhouse, and from which (see this little video telling more). We were not lucky with the order of its components, going through different difficulties with getting all in place, and therefore had the system only rather late in place. But also in this case the saying goes, rather late than never! 🙂
All the above related and was done in addition of course to Oma Maa’s 2020 spring/summer season planting and at the moment harvesting activities.
At the moment of this writing, already onions, garlic, salad (greens), fava beans, kale, strawberries and various herbs and our first potatoes have been figuring in our food bags.
Much more produce is yet to follow from the land both from Lassila farm and from Kauko farm, and from the food forest. This includes different root vegetables like carrot, beet and parsnip, a variety of cabbages, pumpkins, tomatoes, cucumber, and more salad greens, onions, garlic and different herbs. A variety of fruit trees such as cherries, plums, pears, apricots and kvittens are ripening their fruits, whilst we follow the growth of our hemp (and the hemp seeds it will be bring us) as well as canola seed crops (and the oil we will be able to press again in the winter), and await more also of our berries.
This year we also took our greenhouse shares into use, and are offering a number of (try-out) members greenhouse bags. Whilst produce such as tomatoes, salads, cucumbers and french bush beans are also growing on the fields and thus figuring in our food bags, you can order the greenhouse bag and enjoy more of those, including also some other varieties.
Greenhouse bag in July
Whilst our growing and harvesting time is in full swing, we are also with the board and with the coop at large, orientating towards other processes in the coop. For one we are working towards our Annual meeting, planned to be held in the beginning of September (later than usual because of Covid-19 and the holiday season following. The invitation will be sent out in due time!). We have also been reflecting on the retaking of our coop issue discussions, whereas of course also we would like to see to a resuming of our farm dining, in one way or another.
They always say, in every crisis lies a possibility as well. One could say also Oma Maa’s positive developmental story during this Corona spring is such a tale to tell. We are hoping this will be of a lasting nature! Welcome to the farm! Welcome to place a foodbag order!
Wellbeing greetings to all! This newsletter is written to you midway through April – a month during which we welcomed a good number of new try-out members (Tervetuloa!), and completed now two weeks of 80 food bags each. During these weeks also we continued the sowing of more than 6000 seeds of some 50+ plant varieties! And more is to follow!
Please see behind the following links to read more about these timely topics:
…Organising, cooking, sowing and planting … we hope to greet you out here with us some day soon again! At the moment we are facilitating for people to come out in small groups (max five people) to the farm, having their own refreshments with them and prepared to be outside also during the breaks in the grillikatos or the aitta. In this manner we can keep in par with the requirements of today, whilst we also continue our important collective work together. And of course, to enable all to enjoy a bit of green care – also that is part of the future we want to build together. Hopefully till soon!
With these February greetings, we are picking up the thread of our monthly newsletter writing again, and commence by saying that Oma maa started off the new year well!
The last week of last year, and the first week of this year brought a well deserved production break of two weeks, after 50 weeks of production in 2019. Our first foodbags were handed out again in the second week of January, and in the following three weeks. As January had five weeks, there was no need to compensate for the first week lack of foodbags.
Setting many wheels in motion again
In January we cleaned up, organized and repaired a lot in our Rannankoukku kitchen. Our dryer was fixed by member Joonas, and got new fans spinning around their axes, making it possible for us to dry for instance our fava beans again, and then following make fava bean groats (härkäpapurouhe) as has already been figuring in the first foodbags of this year. The new central screw for our pasta machine finally arrived from Italy and the first whole grain spelt pasta has found its way into our food bags. The meat mill got its necessary spare parts, which means we can now much easier grind different produce (and we used it already for the making of our potato-fava bean patties). The cooler, which we use for example to cool our yogurt, got a new fan and is also again supporting our kitchen production.
This means that nowadays in the kitchen you can find, behind the specific production for a certain bagday, at the same time ongoing also the putting to soak, steaming, drying/grinding of different beans and pasta so that we can come to have a stock of different items for our food bags. A strong eye is of course also kept on energy use, making a maximum use of any heat generated. All in all it requires us getting a grip on a number of additional routines, and a new document has been added to the ‘Oma maa docs’ folder: Rannankoukku calendar.
And we are getting an increasing amount of shared docs in drive organising our work on the farm, accompanying our increased capacity to be planning on different fronts. One of the things this is concretely expressed in is the shift in February towards biweekly food bag content and recipe emails.
In the emails we are reminding that every month the food bags will contain about:1 kg groats (ryynit), 1,5 kg flakes (hiutale), 1kg flour (jauho), 1kg pasta, 500 g bulgur, and 1 kg fava beans groats (härkäpapurouhe). Also whole beans and peas will find their way from time to time to the bags. Of course there can and will occur variations in this pattern! Due to for instance issues with the mill, or if a machine runs into problems (may the latter however not happen for long!:)). But, this is the intention.
New is also that we will be having in the first two weeks of the month a certain ready made product in the bag, for which we then will give out only the raw ingredients in the last two weeks of the month, and of course the recipe as to how to proceed!
We hope the information regarding the foodbags coming out earlier, as well as the additional pedagogical element in the bag will be perceived as useful – all feedback is most welcome.
But organising and planning happened certainly also outside of our kitchen, and one other excel sheet worked on was that regarding our seeds, an updating of the existing database in Latin and Finnish. Slowly but surely we will move more into the greenhouse, and setting up the places for our seedlings. First to be sowed will be longer growing time requiring plants as tomatoes and chili’s.
Also, farmers will be having access to a program usable from one’s phone, in which all planting on Oma maa lands will be charted. In this matter we will all be able to keep track of what’s happening where, what is needed where and when, etc.
Here we soon go again … wishing well! 🙂
Coop Day I
On the 18th of January we had our first Coop Day of the year! With some 20 coop members including farmers, board members and food members we talked about the economy of our coop, our democracy, as well as our farming and food bags – including Oma maa’s contribution to CO2 sequestration as well as biodiversity upkeep.
Our report of the day is still forthcoming, but one thing we can put out already and which is related to the development of our co-learning & democracy, is the idea that this year we will aim at four Coopdays. Following this first one, which we could see for the future as a first Coopday of the year with varying development points, the second one would be the annual meeting possibly in May. A third Coopday would then follow possibly in August, organised by the board, looking for instance at Oma Maa project applications. The fourth Coopday would be then around November, and would concern among other the evaluation of the farmers and food members as to how the season went, as well as the first reflections regarding plans for the first year, concerning farming and food bags.
On the 19th of January, some of us were back in Kaarlenkatu, then for the continuation of the founding meeting of Kumppanuusmaatalous ry. Established in May 2019, the association is taking its next steps to come to its rules, plan of action for this year, and the budget. Synergy in this is already happening with the project “Kumppanuusmaataloudella kestävyyttä, kilpailukykyä ja maatalouden arvostusta” (KUMAKKA-hanke) of the Helsinki Ruralia institute, and a next meeting, which will both be taken further the association as well as the Ruralia institute project, is on 22.2, and will include a talkoot by the participants on Lassila farm.
Oma maa was also invited to present last Thursday at the Night of Ideas of the French Institute, in a session entitled Live to Eat / Eat to Live. The conversants came from a diverse background, among other from the Ministry of agriculture, LUKE (Finnish centre for natural resources), and INREA, France’s new National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment, and as such the discussion was a good moment exchange as well as an opportunity to contribute with Oma maa’s envisioning on among other how change is to happen.
Besides these events, January also brought already a good amount of contact taking to Oma maa to come learn and work together, which is wonderful! Oma maa has several producer members working on a daily basis, several active food members carrying to varying extent different Oma maa tasks forward, and in addition to this Oma maa welcomes others to join for the co-learning and production. The latter is happening absolutely in order to strengthen Oma maa and the diversity of work we want to carry out, but also as the fulfilling of the mandate it has given itself: seeking societal change through the engagement of people with their food system.
And on that note – welcome to everyone to visit at the farm! Or then during our next Farmdining dinner on 7.2! Jan and Henni will be in the kitchen, we will be telling and updating on Oma maa, whilst Tuuli will be telling more about EU agricultural policy and subsidies. Welcome! Also to bring interested friends along. Our food bag order for February is at 62, more fit (and needed):)
Not so long ago I ran via Michel Bauwens into this writing by Will Davies, “This is not all there is : Thinking utopias in ideas and practices,” and it hit home. Davies writes about how the idea of Utopia has logically resurfaced in recent times amidst our current concerns with regards to Life’s future (the latter my own words). However, as Davies describes, Utopian thinking of a better life will not automatically enthuse people to believe and act that else is possible, but might actually only add to feelings of disappointment with the present, of disappointment with all that failed. But, Utopian thinking does become politically energising, liberating, when liberty is understood as an autonomy which is not introspective but compatable with ethical duties and fulfilling work. Utopia will be empowering when it is not a ‘dream of escape,’ but a Utopian practice, ‘giving form to an imagined future, to be used to explore alternatives’. This for me is a fantastic way to understand what Oma maa is (also) about. A Utopian practice.
”Ecology is political. Ecology cannot be scientific, since science is not about setting limits before its goals but about discovering ways of achieving them. If scientific research cannot determine with certainty whether something harms the environment irreversibly, then precautionary limitations should be established with a political, direct-democratic process. Ecology is then part of wider revolutionary project, that of direct democracy, which directly challenges the contemporary institutional order. In the matter of our common future all of the social collectivity should have a say. Everybody should be asked whether they want to saw off the branch of the tree they are currently sitting on.”
In the beginning of the “Meidän Oma Maa” text, this link between ecology and radical democracy is set out in what we could call Oma maa Utopia:
”Food is a core societal thing. Food is first of all what joins all of us. And in whose hands the control of our food system is, including of course water, in those hands the control of society lies. In other words, people can more govern their own lives, if food (the food system) is in their control. In that sense, all efforts done to get food back under the control of people is very important for the development of society, and only by addressing this, we can change our society into being more just and fair. “ as our Oma Maa farmer Jukka Lassila put it in a wonderful interview with Jukka Peltokoski for KSL.
I add here, what has been for me a useful rephrasing of that Utopia: Food, and for that matter other issues we consider core change makers as energy in light of issues of concern as climate change, are systemic change makers IF AND WHEN their systems are in the hands of people. Or in other words, Food is a systemic change maker leading to a more healthy and socially and ecologically just society, when its production, distribution and consumption are in the hands of people. Which then is so fundamentally pointing towards the fact that Systemic change is to be rooted in peoples processes around daily needs.
The Practice: co-producing our food system the whole year around
All the core things written out in “Meidän Oma maa,” continued also this year. Come foodbags, come farm dining dinners, come adminstration and governance, Oma maa kept it well up in 2019. We recently summed up the overall sentiment with regards to our foodbags as being “increased satisfaction compared to 2018, resulting from a better harvest, as well as from an increased capacity of the core team on the farm and the cooperative at large”.
Even more perhaps then in previous years, in the summer of 2019 a good number of coop members came out to the farm for the picking and gathering of produce. Several weeks even a second car drove up from Helsinki for the mornings. Also during the weeks that core team members were away, there were co-producing responsible hands available. Via an excel sheet some sort of self-organised organisation was experimented with, whilst this also happened via whatsapp and facebook – this all certainly with room for improvement, but in any case, food bags and kitchen tables were filled with great produce.
In fact, throughout the year a good number of others have been joining for periods on a daily basis on the farm and in the kitchen, resulting in core team’s hands being able to be freed to keep up other activities, which is necessary to keep also the continuous processes going. We tackled new things too, and started a vineyard! We became better at using each other’s experiences, and different people also learned to do different things independently.
This all is central to appreciate how it is possible that Oma Maa as a CSA produces foodbags for its (try out) members all year around. Foodbags which next to customary home grown and made products as bread and seitan /falafel (but also not so customary as forinstance hempbutter from our hempseeds or salsa verde from our tomatillos) saw an abundance of produce like berries, beans, squash, root vegetables and tomatoes (all produce which then at the end of the season got dried, frozen or fermented for the winterseason), whilst at the same time we know that for next year we want to be able to offer yet more cabbage, herbs, cucumber, melons, and garlic. Also different forms of cooperation continued to be developed this season. Beyond the already existing cooperation of Oma Maa cooperative members Lassilan tila and Kaukon tila, and with local farmers around, in the last months we have been trading different produce with Stadin Puutarhuri in Helsinki.
We also identified two major challenges to our Utopian practice. The first one is the financial. Whilst our food bag ordering (try out) membership in its totality is on the rise (for this January we have some 20 more every week bag orders then last years January!) , it is not enough to be seeing to all necessary investments, nor for salaries for everyone (whilst different food compensation and housing arrangements on the farm for some do exist). One of our core team members saw himself forced to step out last summer, which had its own implications. The pressure remains on for the others, and therefore too, next year’s Utopian practice will not be any easier the struggle.
The second challenge relates to our collective need for more education. I have come to understand this as relating both to our core team, as well as to our cooperative membership at large. We are wanting to strengthen our process of the passing on of skills to each other, whilst we identify any needs for external formal education. As to our cooperative membership at large, the collective practising of democracy is not possible without the collective strengthening of our co-learning around our common issues, our commons, including for instance learning on local ecosystems and species, making also for understanding regarding our farming plans. In a meeting soon to follow in January, we are in fact wanting to establish a more organic calendar of learning, discussion and decision making concerning all the areas of our coop – Ecology not without democracy, including knowledge production.
The above is mainly an account of the (amount of the) peoples hands engaging with their food system, which is nevertheless of course a core starting point for the Utopian practice discussed.
Yet another level would be to start to look at what this means for the involved. How is their involvement with Oma maa having an impact on their lives (in the last years linked to tekst I tell a bit of what the impact has been on mine), on their families, on their communities, on society? Not only of the growing, farming and caring, of the foodbags, but also of the developing farmdining restaurant as well as of the developing plans for an educational program. We can imagine that as time goes by, in a multitude of ways involvement with Oma maa’s (in themselves evolving) practices can lead to more physical and mental health, to more social justice, to more ecological wellbeing.
Taking a few steps forward, one could yet further imagine a future in which perhaps shorter working weeks, complementary currencies, basic income (or perhaps even a mechanism coupling all of the mentioned) could be bringing forth that many more people could be involved with a process as Oma maa, leading to not only more novel practices, but also to the strengthening and potentially interconnecting of yet other Utopian practices of peoples process around daily needs.
After a year of climate strikes and gathering also in our Northern corners, the angle that systemic change is to be anchored in peoples processes around daily needs, profoundly connecting ecology and democracy, is not yet figuring in our discussions nor in our calls for action. This tekst is an invitation to consider the potential Utopian real outcome if it would be. Oma maa for one welcomes on board!
Jocelyn Parot, general secretary of the Urgenci international community supported agriculture (CSA) network, came to visit with Oma Maa on Lassila farm in the beginning of this month. It was in January 2011 that Jocelyn presented in Helsinki about CSA workings in France, and that his visit gave impetus to the development of CSA workings in Finland. Jocelyn told that he believes the number of CSA initiatives in Europe keeps rising, and that Urgenci wants to carry out a next census in 2020 to get up to date on the numbers.
This development is certainly not without its challenges. Whilst the CSA mode of organising can certainly help a farmer to achieve sustainability, different particularities might make sustainability nevertheless a challenge for many CSA’s. Whilst today there is more demand for organic products, a CSA is about the engaging in a deeper process of change, and this can be felt as challenging for people to join on to.
The Urgenci network is at the moment putting a focus on biodiversity, and via interviews with its members wants to address the question whether a CSA in fact is a system which supports and promotes biodiversity. Since a CSA does not operate according to market demands, but allows for decision making regarding planting between a farmer and other cooperative members, in principle more diversity of growing can take place.
Our farmer Jukka Lassila agreed that indeed as a CSA, Oma Maa can have the possibility to be experimenting, meaning diversify its planting more than what otherwise would be the case. But then the question arises, do we always understand what biodiversity upkeep entails and includes? Why are there for instance cows on a farm, when the farm is not into dairy or meat production? On Lassila farm there are four cows, which in the summer season graze in front of Tuusula lake. In this area there is no food production, because the area floods. In the past, the area has been serving as grazing lands, and there was a lot of diversity. But when no more cows were held in the area, the diversity of the area clearly diminished. Now, after the re-introduction of grazing cows in the area, there is a clear comeback of diversity. The issue of animals on a farm is at large an important question. Jukka explained that it is not an issue in any way of maximizing the amount of animals on a farm. The issue is one of determining what is the maximum amount of cows or chickens that can be held with them eating what is not eaten by people. This is how to look at land and biodiversity.
Jocelyn also shared with us on the next larger upcoming meetings around food. The next larger international Urgenci CSA meetings will be taking place some time in May, 2021, in Spain. Before that, food networks will be present in Barcelona in June 2020, at the World Social Forum on Transformative Economies. Jocelyn also told of a CSA Hackathon in Freiberg, Germany, in November, where the development of software will be tackled, which will be helpful for (larger) CSA’s organization and governance. Even if not without challenges, the CSA movement is moving.
The following text was written to support the reader in getting a comprehensive overview of the process Oma Maa is, its aims and objectives. The text as such deals with what to expect and what you can be a part of when joining the coop’s activities by ordering a foodbag or otherwise.
At the moment (August 2021 ), not yet all of the described activities in this writing can again be carried out, or at least not in a similar manner as two years ago was the case. in any case, and especially also today, we continue to work towards the important goal of the strengthening of an alternative food system, which is safe and accessible for all of us also today. It is wonderful you are with us in it!
Osuuskunta Tuusula Oma Maa (‘Own Land’ cooperative, in Tuusula (30km from Helsinki), Finland) is a food cooperative founded in 2009, practising ecologically and socially sustainable food production. Since 2014 the cooperative is working according to community-supported agriculture principles, which means that the coops producer and food members form a network of mutual support, in which the risks and abundance of the farming season are shared. The coop has several active producing volunteers working daily on the farm (there are no salaries currently for everyone, but other forms of compensation exist) and some 160 food members, some of whom having central roles in the coop for instance carrying out administrative and distribution tasks. In addition there are also ‘try-out members‘ who after a 3 month period decide whether or not to join the coop.
Oma maa’s role – beyond carbon.
Oma maa works according to permaculture principles. This includes crop rotation and the upkeep of crop diversity. Whilst this importantly relates to carbon capture, Oma Maa in particular relates its workings to the upkeep of biodiversity. The farms four cows graze in a protected strip in front of Tuusula lake. Also their role is exactly that, seeing to the upkeep of biodiversity.
Foodsouvereignty is a core value of the cooperative. This goes hand in hand with the notion that food is core to (systemic) change, and that by engaging with our foodsystems (production, distribution, consumption) we can develop pathways towards a more ecological and socially sustainable society. Oma Maa food cooperative wants to explore this potential in its (ecological and social) totality.
The farm(s) – our production
The coop produces a large variety of produce at the Lassila family farm in Tuusula, which is a 50ha size farm and which has been in the Lassila family since the 17th century.
On the farm, the cooperative cultivates grains, oil and legumes, and garden plants in the open air and in the greenhouse (which has been running through its first year). This summer we have been harvesting produce like potatoes, pumpkins, tomatoes, cucumber, salad greens, radishes, roots, onions, beans and corn.
In the cooperative’s forest garden, there are fruit, berries and other perennial garden plants grown according to permaculture principles, and this summer we enjoyed bountiful amount of pears, plums and even apricots! Also vineyard terraces were commenced this summer on the farm! Needless to say the sweet fruits of all this labour are not for today nor tomorrow, but to be reaped in the years that come.
Also a nearby second farm, Kaukon tila, is a part of Oma Maa cooperative, where this year our strawberries and black currant berries, peas, beans, fava beans, salad and swedes grew whilst we have planted also a part of our potatoes there. Also further cooperation takes part with local surrounding farmers regarding our grains, which in terms avoids them having to sell out to large intermediaries.
Oma Maa wants to challenge how global markets have come to determine what can be grown in Finland. There used to be pineapple grown in Finland some 100 years ago. Whilst it’s not about the pineapple, realising this gives a whole new ring to the sound of what future food actually could really be about. On a more longer term, Oma Maa is wanting to integrate local and traditional methodology (because of its efficient resource use) with global practices and tastes (grown for instance in our edible food forest), and with it address the issue of what can and should be the food of the future.
Oma Maa cooperative produces weekly comprehensive foodbags for its ordering (try-out) members which include produce from the land and the greenhouse, as well as ready made products. The ready made products are made from the farm’s produce, and include currently typically items as wheat and rye bread, falafel, seitan, and oat yoghurt.
In addition other items will be made for the bag pending on seasonality. For instance, we have been adding wild herbs and nettle pesto with our hemp seeds to the baggs. Additional items also depend on what produce has been able to be conserved over winter, which is linked to the harvest. This can also lead to for instance a tea or a muesli being added to the foodbag. Besides fermenting or pickling, different items are also experimented with, like soy sauce from broad beans, malt, and plant based cheese. The secondary production takes place in a rented building ‘Rannankoukku’ which is a stone drop away from the farm.
Oma Maa offers the same foodbag for all and there are solid reasons for this. The bag is wanting to promote comprehensive food system change and is thus not to be seen as ‘pick and choose shopping’. The foodbagg also wants to holistically address health related issues resulting from our no longer eating of local produce. In addition the bag wants to comprehensively address the carbon footprint as also handprint of food production. Oma Maa’s foodbag is about a change of food culture, challenging the illusion of freedom when buying from a grocery store. Last but not least, our foodbag is also about the democratising of our food production and with this also importantly a democratisation of our work. The latter then relates to for instance how many days in the week anyone of us will be working in our Rannankoukku kitchen, in order for other people not to work in their own kitchens.
Currently the coop has some 70 (whole) bag orders (meaning the total sum of every week (whole) and every other week (half) orders counted together), which is about sufficient to pay for basic costs of the coops infrastructure, but not for instance for salaries for all the farmers, nor for investments.
The meetings – our democracy
Oma Maa coop has a board with producer members and food members and different working groups like on communications, administration and financial issues, foodbag handout, and talkoot (communal works). The farm has its own daily morning and weekly friday meetings. The board meets about once a month in meetings all members can attend, whilst the different working groups are organised in different ways, using different tools like whatsapp groups etc. An important annual meeting is the presentation and discussion regarding the years farming plan, and every year there is of course also the coops annual meeting. No ecology without democracy – whereas also in Oma Maa coop, the exercising of democracy is a constant process in need of evaluation and development, and importantly will need to entail space and willingness for learning.
Talkoot – our co-producing
Oma Maa has a constant call open for members to join in the co-production of all that is done. Besides organised talkoots, people can drive along to the farm on any given day to work along with the farmers and give input. The cooperative is also open to members wanting to learn and co-produce on a more permanent basis. So there have been food members staying for a certain period on the farm and bringing in also their skills with regards to for instance food bag content.
Satojako – our distribution
Oma Maa foodbag are currently handed out in Tuusula, Järvenpää and (for the majority) in Helsinki. Members coordinate and are actively involved in the handing out of the foodbags. The coop discusses much on how this important (bi-)weekly contact with foodmembers can be developed.
Oma Maa has begun to hold three-course farm dining dinners (all ingredients from the farm, and produced by the cooperatives cooks and farmers) in its member and restaurant space in Helsinki on Kaarlenkatu 15. The dinners are typically accompanied by joint discussions around issues of the cooperative or broader societal issues and are open to members and friends. They have been nice and informative moments to get up to date but also introduce Oma Maa to new friends.
In the future Oma Maa wants to open its Farmdining to the general public, and hold brunches as also three course dinners on Saturdays on Kaarlenkatu. Also in the future a wish is to hold Farmdining dinners on the farm. This will require developing the cooking facilities on the farm. A future project is for example the building of an artesanal oven.
The farm (again) – Oma Maa Utopia school
As described in the above, our farms are places of food production, but also places defending biodiversity and places for us to develop our carbon handprint. In addition our farms can be seen as places of learning, with regards to food but also as Oma Maa has been envisioning ecological building and energy provisioning. So we can be imagining our farm to be hosting co-learning processes, starting from the core questions as to What is it we want to do? What are our resources to do so? and What are our skills to realise this? – and to then learn how to do the maths with regards to the material costs, financial costs and carbon footprint of anything we make. Goal is here to empower by doing and co-learning. Whilst for such a process to take a more institutional form is of course a longer term process, in different ways Oma Maa coopers on the farm are already engaged in such collective experimental co-learning processes.
The working and learning of Oma Maa does not happen in isolation, but has been happening in cooperation with local farmers and partners as Eetti, Ehta Raha and other Finnish CSA’s, five of which together in 2019 founded Kumpanuusmaatalous ry, and importantly also as part of a global movement. Over the years a good number of comrades have been visiting us or doing things at Oma Maa’s premise in the city as part of different movement process, as around solidarity economy building and the commons (as the RIPESS network, Cooperation Jackson) whilst we also participate in Urgenci’s community supported agriculture european and global network.
Summa summarum… Oma Maa is a process
Oma Maa is a process, in a full fledged developmental phase.
When ordering an Oma Maa foodbag, one is ordering importantly a local organic vegan foodbag, which is bound up with its production – with the coop’s capacity to make for a good harvest in summer and to then conserve produce for winter, as well as with the available time and resources to experiment and develop secondary production. Important is also to look at the bag not from a singular bag perspective, but to look all season long and see along the line the moments of abundance and of the periods when less so.
But beyond the foodbags, Oma Maa is a process of people taking (a part of) their food system into their hands and to try to realise the potential for transformation that can give in different areas. Efforts in this process should be viewed from a short term but importantly also long term perspective, as also from the perspective that a sufficient level of engagement is core to realising this potential. A challenge entirely worth pushing for.
It has been some time since we shared news with you by way of a newsletter, with our last newsletter written in February. Perhaps it is fair to say that instead of newsletters a number of funding applications were written (for the making of a book, as well as for Oma Maa educational program – with further funding rounds being anticipated), whilst also a good number of other efforts were kept up in full gear towards our summer season.
During this spring on Lassilan tila we got all benches going in the greenhouse with an increasing amount of greens in our foodbags at regular intervals. At some point we commenced sowing in the smaller greenhouse, whilst in the last weeks a third greenhouse/seedling house was resurrected after it collapsed under snow. At the moment the sowing of a large variety of seeds, frequent watering and more seedling table making is in full swing constantly ongoing in all the three greenhouses. To name but a few things, at the moment different root vegetables like carrot, beet and parsnip, a variety of cabbages, pumpkins, tomatoes, cucumber, salad greens, radishes, onions, garlic and different herbs are all on their way shooting up, with much more to come. On the surrounding land day-in-and-day-out a tractor can be heard spinning around with birds swarming around it preparing the grounds for the transfer of the seedlings, for which a new on foil transplanting machine has been acquired. Broad bean and potato seeds have already found their way into the ground. The same activities are ongoing in our second farm of the coop Kaukon tila concerning among other our forthcoming berry and hemp season.
During this spring we already harvested a variety of delicious roots as burdock and marsh woundwort as well as wildherbs, which ended up in our food bags, as well as during our beautiful monthly Farm Dining dinners for members and friends on Kaarlenkatu. Our working with the roots and wild herbs will be further developed this year, with some fermentation already ongoing. Our aim is this year to yet grow, harvest and conserve a wider variety to be able to add yet a larger variety to our foodbags throughout the year.
Our Farm Dining dinners bringing forth besides delicious meals also delicious talks and conversations were also held for instance during the recent Finnish Social Forum, with different guests from close and afar. We will be continuing our monthly dinners for members and friends. A next member and friends dinner is planned for 14.6, while we are aiming at opening for the public for (first of all) Saturday brunches and dinners after summer.
And perhaps to mention last but not least – we founded (and soon registered) Kumpanuusmaatalous ry! Read here this new organisation’s first pressrelease, which currently has five Finnish CSA’s underwriting its objectives. Besides this also a first joint campaign has been set up.
Intertwined into the above story must be read the fact that several crucial moments in our process were made possible because of the coming together of a good number of our coop members, on and behind the scenes. Besides our farmers, several other coop members have also on a continuous basis put in considerable efforts for our coop. We have had wonderful talkoot days together, embodying a core envisioning of Oma Maa : All is Possible, Together. With this we also point to another core envisioning of Oma Maa which has remained to be brought to the forefront also in the last months: Food is a social and environmental change maker, IF in the hands of people.
The above is nothing but a brief overview of the things that happened in the last months and weeks. But hopefully it will be an encouragement for you to want to place your foodbag order for this summer. We are currently standing at a small 60 full bag orders – Our target to come to sustainable level enabling renumerations as well as further necessary investments remains a 100. For Oma Maa’s beautiful potential to further realize itself, we need you. Tervetuloa (taas) mukaan!(kiittos mentalminimalist for the below food of one of our recent winterfoodbags!)
In the past month we reached out to and produced different media, for starters a Helsingin Sanomat mielipide. As we wrote also on in our December newsletter, the current climate discussion is frequently being framed as being a matter of individual consumer choices versus the demanding of big policy changes. But there is no attention in this framing for the building up anew of ecologically and socially just processes on a daily level, based on daily needs, which ultimately must be at the core of any change in society. It is also through these processes that we come to understand what our demands are, that we start to (want to) build democracy differently and with this build power differently. Being with in Oma Maa and other initiatives profoundly brings this to the forefront. Oma Maa chair Sami Keto wrote on this in Helsingin Sanomat.
Also a podcast was made (in Finnish): “Miten ihmiset voivat ruokaosuuskunnan jäsenyyden kautta lisätä osallisuuttaan ruoantuotannossa sekä saada merkityksellisyyden kokemusta maailmassa, jossa ruokatuotanto on ajautunut kauas niin ruoan kuluttajista kuin planetaaristen rajojen huomioonottamisestakin. Versus-podcast on äänitetty tällä kertaa Osuuskunta Oma Maan tilalla, missä ruokajärjestelmän ongelmista, ratkaisuista ja erityisesti ruokaosuuskuntatoiminnasta ovat keskustelemassa ruokaosuuskuntiin erikoistunut tutkija ja Herttoniemen ruokaosuuskunnan puheenjohtaja Galina Kallio, Oma maa -osuuskunnan viljelijä Jukka Lassila sekä Oma maa -osuuskunnan ruokajäsen ja empatian tutkimukseen erikoistunut tietokirjailija Sami Keto.”
And then January also saw the kick-off of our very own Oma maajussi series! Little clips about the building of a new food system. In case you have missed them, see here farmers Jon explaining the fence building around the edible food forest and the balance between predators and pray, Joel telling on his construction of an aquaduct system in the kasvihuone, and Ruby pondering whether she (and we) is a farmer or not, with the whole conceptualisation and phone held steady by Oma maajussi director Ulla.
On our January doing..
The steep minus temperatures (in December and) January were of course a challenge for our greens in the greenhouse. We did have some greens in our bags for 2 weeks and otherwise tried our best with regards to trying to come to a stable temperature in the greenhouse as well as to start with more planting! There were no more for the bags, but our potatoes continued, as they are still doing now in February. In the bag we also made Tuusulanpiirakat (potato pies), had seitan steaks and baguettes and also a lot of kale in fresh and dried form, which we got in trade for bread from yet another farmer who was not intending collecting it from his land.
Besides the shuffling of a lot, a lot of snow and keeping up with the woodwork to create a steady temperature in the greenhouse, we in January finalised yet more poles for the fence – These previous newsletterswill be informative for you who joined only recently.
Starting off a New Year
In snow and ice we then kicked off in January our winter season with 40+ bag orders. We campaigned well together in the end of 2018, as we piggybacked of course on peoples new years promises, the vegan challenge, but only by taking them very serious. We designed a This is not a Shop meme type add series, with which we drew attention to the fact that Oma Maa food bags want to promote a comprehensive change with regard to food production and consumption in order to address the total of ethical issues facing and resulting from our mainstream food production, locally and globally. This means not just the replacement of some items in our cupboards, but our food consumption in its totality. Wonderful personal testimonies on Oma Maa’s workings were also put out in the end of 2018, thanking one more time for all the support given to the coop in that!
And from this start onward then, we continue each month to take on more bag orders, which can be done via here ordering of the bag. In February we are at 53 full bag orders which allows us to get the bills paid but not much more than that. So all new orders are very much welcomed and needed!
We are finishing this newsletter also on the days after we had a very good farming 2019 planning meeting. The memo of that meeting was already shared in another email.
Also in 2019, we continue welcoming you to join for talkoot during any weekday at the farm or any pick-up day on Kaarlenkatu. You can sign up to work at the farm or in the cafe on pick-up days as well as offer or find a ride to and from the farm via the talkoot form (link in email version).
Last year I have often been asked, how is Oma Maa doing? A question which as time went by, became only harder to answer in a nutshell. Oma Maa is-so-much. Therefore this new year’s attempt at a (unavoidably yet again partial) write up regarding this systemic change alternative.
A good start would be to use what I have so often used last year, and what has been motivational for my own engagement and what is at the heart of Oma Maa: ”Food is a core societal thing. Food is first of all what joins all of us. And in whose hands the control of our food system is, including of course water, in those hands the control of society lies. In other words, people can more govern their own lives, if food (the food system) is in their control. In that sense, all efforts done to get food back under the control of people is very important for the development of society, and only by addressing this, we can change our society into being more just and fair. “ as our Oma Maa farmer Jukka Lassila put it in a wonderful interview with Jukka Peltokoski for KSL.
In this, and beyond this, Oma Maa takes us further.
Democracy, commoning @Oma Maa
Oma Maa coop consists of different parts. Oma Maa’s heart and core lies in Tuusula, the land of Lassila’s tila, a family farm, which has over the years kept its arms open to Oma Maa cooperative to develop itself on its premises. Oma Maa coop’s daily presence on the farm saw this year the working together of a new group on the farm, which of course had to use a considerable amount of time in the getting to know of each other, each others skills and capacities. On a daytoday basis 6 people work at the farm, whilst the coop had also a good number of trainees and other volunteers visiting the farm, for varying periods. This includes working with the animals (cows and chickens), working on the land, in the greenhouse (which running through its first full year),in the edible forest (which was worked at again this year after an intermezzo), in the kitchen (in ‘Rannankoukku’, a rented former laboratory industrial kitchen 2min away from the farm) as well as with the coops communication, administration, and financial issues. Some of the farm team live on the farm, some commute daily from Järvenpää as well as from Helsinki.
Cooperation this year was renewed with another founding member in the cooperative, Kaukon tila, whilst cooperation continued also with different smaller farms in the Tuusula area. The latter sell some grains to the farm, and by doing so do need not to sell out to big players. Farms often do not stand on their own, but are part of cooperative networks making them collectively stand stronger.
Beyond the farm, but in a direct link between the farm and the towns of Järvenpää and Helsinki, lies the further membership of the coop, involved in different ways and to varying degrees in the workings of the coop. Some members order foodbags, some come regularly to the farm to take part in communal works, other members take part in the handing out of the foodbags two days in the week, yet other members have this year become deeply involved in admin and communications, marketing issues or take part in events organized on Kaarlenkatu 15. In Helsinki Oma Maa has its physical space on Kaarlenkatu 15, a membership space, which has also seen this year the first steps of the development of not fine, but beautiful farm dining (see below).
The whole of this myriad of flows between the farms and the city constitute multiple formal and informal points of the exercising of commoning around our food commons, of practice and democracy, from coffee morning meetings on the farm to a more substantial discussing of the week ahead on Fridays, the deliberations of communications and admin groups in WhatsApp, the discussions during the ”satojako” (handing out of the foodbags), the monthly open board meetings over Skype and live in Helsinki, the reflections and deliberations over dining, and of course the annual coop meeting.
It has come to my mind, that it are these instances in this very fluid design of democracy in our coop which are a most valuable experience of what it means to exercise and shape every day democracy. Following the different kind of uprisings globally in recent years seeking change, reflection has taken place on whether these uprisings have given rise to conscious movements. In Finland we haven’t seen such recent mobilizations, but have seen an formal installing of “participation” which has left many question marks in how far it enables empowering, structural change in our societies, allowing citizens to (re)build according to their values and not that of capital.
I have then come to see our coops daily exercising of deliberation around concrete needs as most valuable instances, which, whilst dealing with the challenges of power, of too little or too much leadership, of knowledge transfer, aims at the empowering of everyone to take informed decisions. And taking part in this has brought to the forefront how fairness, a fairness based on each others equality, is a fundamental core value in our commoning. Total hard work, totally worth it!:)
Future Food (bag) @ Oma Maa
Also in 2018, Oma Maa continued to offers its members food bags. They typically contain readymade products, products from the greenhouse and from the land. In the bags there will typically be some 8-9 products. Every week the bags will be different, and one can order them every week, or every other week. (Your order you can also be shared with friends, with third parties). But otherwise, they mainly consist of products from those three categories and they are always the same for everyone receiving a bag on a given bag day (whilst someone always has the possibility to trade a particular product from the bag with products having been put for trade on an ‘exchange shelf’).
Ever so often the question gets posed as to Why? Why do we always offer the same bag to everyone, and why don’t we give our members the possibility to order just that what they like (for instance the bread and the falafel, but not the oat yoghurt), or what is easy to use (for instance only those ready-made products and not those peas we still have to cook ourselves etc.)
We have identified different reasons why we offer the same foodbag for all. Shortly put – The bag is wanting to promote comprehensive food system change and is thus not to be seen as ‘pick and choose shopping’, is holistically wanting to address health related issue resulting from our no longer eating of local produce, wants comprehensively to address the carbon footprint of food production, is about food culture change (challenging also the illusion of freedom when buying from a grocery store in comparison with the bag), and is about the democratising our food production and with this also importantly a democratisation of our work.
Oma Maa’s foodbag as such also wants to stand for Good Work. Which will also in the context of Oma Maa refer to our possibility to carry out meaningful and enjoyable work. This includes a healthy balance between different types of work, work which allows for self-development, is as fair with respect to everyone’s equality in the collective carrying out of the work and is good for one’s well being, which in the case of Oma Maa of course should also include the possibility to work close to nature, and to be ‘getting your hands dirty’. This then in concrete terms relates to for instance how many days in the week anyone of us will be working in our Rannankoukku kitchen, in order for other peoples to not do so. The fact that Oma Maa foodbag contains some ready-made foods, but also ingredients from which to prepare your food, is then good for all alike. This coming to closure on ”who does/starts what, when” is in itself a constant deliberation – sometimes based on a needed time efficiency, sometimes because of a wanted rotation and learning. Never without a conscious thought.
Its this openness which has brought an incredible amount of new doings this year, to name some things: I have become a planter, caretaker and harvester, a caretaker of cows and chickens, a shuffler of real shit, have gotten insights on the ways of the natural world which totally have been out of sight for me until now, a maker of falafels, bread, wheat yoghurt and a waitress, have become acquainted with packing material, building material, retail/stock houses on industrial terrains I had no idea of existed, and certainly got already a part of what I asked for at the beginning of this year – to understand what it means to run a coop – the financial and the administrative, and have made a total come back with regards to the doing of basic maths. (When they say farming is counting, it’s not a joke. My mind still goes at it feels a third of the speed compared to our farmers, but I intend on catching up. :)) I think my memory has totally started to fail me this year because of the overflow of total change – and I have loved this overtake, this overtake of the doing, of making something happen.
As our cooperative develops itself, so do our foodbags. Oma Maa wants to challenge how global markets have determined what was being grown in Finland. There used to be pineapple grown in Finland some 100 years ago. Whilst it’s not about the pineapple, realising this gives a whole new ring to the sound of what future food actually could really be about. From a concrete, short-term perspective, our aim this winter is to develop new processed-products in addition to the familiar falafels, seitan and yoghurt. Oma Maa will also be experimenting with the cultivation of mushrooms (oyster mushrooms). On a more longer term, Oma Maa is wanting to integrate local and traditional methodology (not because of nostalgia but because of its efficient resource use) with global practices and tastes (grown for instance in our edible food forest), and with it address the issue of what can and should be the food of our future.
Experimental pedagogical co-learning @Oma Maa
I have learned from my comrades that Oma Maa is also in many ways (the daring to be) experimental. New happens all the time. A new variety gets planted, a new something gets made for the foodbag, a new methodology gets tried, a new person joins us for some time. Whether it concerns the land, the greenhouse, the edible forest or any future plans perhaps with besides food also ecological building, whether it’s wanting to figure out the material, the financial or the carbon footprint of anything we make – the aim is to try, to test different scenarios and learn to do the maths ourselves. Goal is to empower by doing and co-learning.
Learning as such continues to happen also in cooperation with beautiful local partners as Eetti, Ehta Raha and other Finnish CSA’s (I hope we will come to set up a Finnish CSA umbrella as well as a common Food Manifesto in 2019!), and importantly as part of a global movement, of global movement building. Last year we had a good number of comrades visiting us or doing things at Oma Maa’s premise in the city as part of different movement process, as around solidarity economy building (RIPESS members were over for a first Nordic Solidarity economy meeting, as also from Cooperation Jackson in the US), and the commons (with activists from Faircoin, and Commonfare), whilst we participated in Urgency’s community supported agriculture european and global network meeting in Greece.
Many of these occasions were crowned by Oma Maa’s dinners. Beautiful three course dinners, which we have come to call not fine dining, but farm dining, at our sweet membership/restaurant space on Kaarlenkatu 15. During and after the dinner we have talked about the coop, how things are going, have also taken a particular theme at hand. This year we will continue with the holding of these dinners for our membership once a month, whilst also commence our farm dining on a more organised note for wider public.
So perhaps this then is the nutshell I have been looking for. Oma Maa radically addresses the ecological, but not without this entailing a shaping of our radical democracy. Comrades in India have for long coined the term of ecological democracy, but I feel I only now with Oma Maa have come to really internally grasp what it feels like when there is no value of the ecological without the value of democracy, and how that is one big beautiful commoning learning process. Wishing you warmly on board for that! Our possibilities to make for change together are truly endless.