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.
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.
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.
Slideshow of the photos from Estonia visits:
Slideshow of the photos from Latvia visits: