Vanapere Farm: The story of a 1600ha farmer

Image: Vanapere Farm

Find out how Vanapere Farm is contributing to the EU’s transition to carbon neutrality in agriculture.

Agriculture contributes to greenhouse gas emissions (10% of total emissions due to human activities).

At the same time, however, it holds great potential for sequestering and storing carbon in plants, trees and soils.

Many EU farms and projects aim to optimize the carbon footprint, contributing to the objectives of the EU’s Green Deal, aiming for climate neutrality by 2050.

Vanapère Farm

Ando Eelmaa from Korjuse – Farm Vanapere – farm in the northwest of Estonia.

He has set up a sustainable breeding system with a minimal carbon footprint. This brought many other benefits to the company.

Ando said: “The Korjuse-Vanapere farm has been in my family for over 300 years.”

“We have around 1,600 ha in total; more than half is forest land. We also have arable land, meadows, marshes and waterways. 60 ha are a Natura 2000 zone.

Their Galloway and Hereford beef cattle graze on permanent pastures. They grow apples, pears and berries in our orchard.

In addition, they have a small nursery and they collect other products from the forest and natural areas.

On site, they produce cider and cider vinegar, jams and syrups.

Continuing, he said: “All of our agricultural activities and products are organic. We have developed our brand ‘Kloostrimetsa’.

“We sell wood to industry and use wood waste for bioenergy.

Since the agricultural enterprise is based on the continuity of generations, the basic knowledge about sustainability, depletion of resources, etc., is in the genes.

Of course, new knowledge and technologies are constantly being created and should be integrated as much as possible.

Vanapere Farm is a mixed enterprise with livestock, solar power and forestry: a long-term farming system with a minimal carbon footprint
Image: Vanapere Farm
Diversification of operations and waste

Ando explains: “We have diversified our activities, and we are trying to keep all of them as optimal as possible. “

“In addition, we try to minimize waste. For example, our customers bring back the glass bottles and jars of our products, and we reuse them.

Ando’s agriculture is organic and they also practice certified organic harvesting in uncultivated areas (wild berries, medicinal plants and tree sap).

The exploitation includes semi-natural areas and wooded meadows which they maintain solely for the conservation of nature.

The entire property is labeled Wildlife Estates. Ando’s cattle graze all year round and they are not fattened.

He feeds them hay and silage from the farm during the winter season.

Most of the farm’s electricity is self-generated solar power; it sells the surplus to the network.

Ando and his family implemented this to make the most of the less fertile land.

Challenges

Ando encountered many challenges: “The problem is common. As many rural entrepreneurs would agree, the price paid for our produce does not reflect the value of how we farm.

“However, the challenges are interesting and require you to look for solutions. Working with nature is different every day.

Advice to farmers

Ando concludes with some advice for other farmers:

“Reducing your footprint isn’t just about making yourself feel better; activities aimed at energy efficiency and more prudent use of resources pay off.

“For example, our solar power provided us with substantial income and was a commercially viable investment. “

“The sorting and recycling of waste also has an obvious economic impact. The rich are not those who earn a lot, but those who spend little.

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