The Urban Co-operative Farm in Helsinki

“The Urban Co-operative Farm concept originated with the idea that participants each get an area of a farm the size of a normal allotment, with a professional grower (whom we call a Personal Farmer) looking after it. The Personal Farmer cultivates your piece of the farm and keeps you up to date with what is being done there.

Nobody can afford to hire a grower on their own, but in the Urban Co-operative Farm concept about 100 people hire one collectively which makes it possible. The grower doesn’t cultivate one are, but a hectare. Participants can volunteer to work in the field anytime they wish. Households invest an annual fee in advance and the harvest from the field is distributed amongst participants weekly during the harvest season.”

About the Urban Co-operative Farm

• we’re about 180 households, organised into a co-operative (Herttoniemi food co-operative) • our way of operating is similar to Community Supported Agriculture, with the difference being that we don’t work with an existing farm but rent a field (about 30 km from central Helsinki) and employ professional growers to farm it • each member (household) pays a joining fee and a yearly harvest fee (year it is 450 €). These are collected in the early spring to enable us to make the necessary investments such as seeds and tools and to hire growers in advance of the growing season • we have two full-time growers and several interns from agriculture/gardening schools • there is no obligation for members to work for the co-op, but members are welcome to help out in the field every week • during the harvest season, vegetables are transported weekly from the field into the city where we currently have two distribution spaces, and members come to pick up their share. Distribution is handled by the growers and volunteers from the co-op. • the crop this year has been good and varied. Each week we get several kilos of produce each, for example carrots, cabbage, green beans, leeks, corn, zucchini, lettuce, herbs, potatoes, beetroot…all organically grown, of course! • each growing season ends with a traditional harvest party where we all gather to cook and eat together” (http://ruokaosuuskunta.fi/english/)

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