HMI Certified Educator, Tuomas Mattila, wins Most Environmentally Friendly Farm in Finland award from WWF!
The World Wildlife Fund’s Environmental Award for Farmers in the Baltic Sea region was created to spotlight farmers who are pioneers in farming methods that are sustainable, regenerative and do not harm the Baltic Sea.
Tuomas and Iiris Mattila have been managing 200 hectares in Pusula, Finland for ten years; 75 hectares are under production and the rest is forest. They both have backgrounds in microbiology and soil science so much of their success has come from research and trial and error on their own land. Kilpiä Farm, as it is named after the river that runs through it, is considered a “research and education farm” and they are currently experimenting with various regenerative farming techniques including keyline design, crop rotation and cover cropping. This year has been unusually dry in Southern Finland but with these methods they have been able to remain almost completely unaffected with only 7 hectares of the total 75 being negatively affected by the drought. Besides adopting these sustainable farming methods, the couple invests in renewable energy and energy efficiency and the forests on their farm are sustainably managed. The WWF group was most impressed with Tuomas’s ability to work with the natural contours of the land to control erosion and hold water in the soil. Tuomas calls his soil “chocolate cake soil”, it is crumbly, it has good aggregation and it is full of microbes.
Finding the right management tools, incorporating Holistic Management®
A few years ago Tuomas began incorporating Holistic Management principles into his management practices and says it was the exact tool he had been looking for. “It recognizes how complex farms are, their ecology, location, etc. and includes the farmer’s own wants, purposes and drives. Holistic Management allows you to put these factors all together, have a good look at them and then make solid decisions based on this whole understanding.” Tuomas says at the beginning he had two major breakthroughs when he began learning about Holistic Management. The first came when he realized that they were bogging themselves down trying to solve individual issues instead of focusing on the big picture goal, building ecosystem health. The second breakthrough was noticing that they were not having conversations between him and his wife as to why they farm which lead to collisions in decision making. Tuomas says, “I wanted to optimize everything to work as smoothly as possible and she wanted to experiment with older farming methods working with hands, slower methods.” They have now created a Holistic Goal that reflects all these wants and more. Since then their decision-making has gone much more smoothly as they test their decisions against their Holistic Goal.
Today, Tuomas is a Certified Educator and consultant in Holistic Management. For the past two years he has been helping other land stewards to regenerate their soils and improve their lives. He is especially interested in the application of Holistic Management to forestry, crop production and to non-brittle temperate and boreal climates.
Sharing their work
Tuomas’ work with keyline contouring has resulted in some oddly shaped fields that have caught the neighbors’ curious eye. Tuomas says he has great neighbors that have told him to let them know what he learns so that in the future they can adopt the successful practices that come out of his research and experimentation. Iiris says, “farmers have a great influence over the land they manage and the future of our planet’s sustainability and biodiversity” and she hopes to share their findings as much as possible so other farmers in the region can implement their own environmentally friendly ways of practicing and promoting sustainable agriculture that work for their land and climate.
Visit Kilpiän Farm
On July 28th 2018, Tuomas and Iiris will be hosting an Open Gate Field Day on their farm from 9:30-16:00. Attendees will be able to explore their land while learning about cover crops, crop rotation variation, keyline design and Holistic Management. This event is open to the public and it’s free! If you are interested in attending please email our Program Manager, Stephanie von Ancken, at [email protected]. We will offer a lunch of Finnish rye porridge for 10 euros.