It was a sunny, yet a cold day in Fiskars while the annual Slow Food Festival (05.10.2019 – 06.10.2019) was being held – the festival celebrated it’ s tenth anniversary, as almost 100 food and beverage producers and sellers gathered together in Puimala area in Fiskars. Small booths offered various products ranging from honey to smoked wild boar, and all entrepreneurs shared the same mission: to spread the agenda of local, environmentally friendly and most important of all, a slow, patiently produced food.
“The taste of honey is sweet – the actual job producing it, not always so sweet” said Anja Ollikainen, a beekeeper from Karjalohja. The honey production demands hard physical work, and most of all, patience. Ollikainen has 15 honey producing beehives, but there have been some serious drawbacks during the years: “Pesticides used by other farmers killed almost all of my bees”, Ollikainen said, and emphasized the ecological importance of sustainable food production – the ecological role of bees as pollinators is vital to the food production of all mankind.
Ollikainen sells several kinds of honey: the taste profile of a certain honey depends on the flowers and what kind of nectar they produce. Ollikainen has done beekeeping for five years, and in the beginning, she had only one nest. “I started this as a hobby”, she says “and work can be tough at times”, Ollikainen tells us as she demonstrates the use of a protective suit all beekeepers use; basically, a body armour.
Ollikainen is not familiar with the concept of slow food – but she is passionate about the ecological importance of the welfare of bees, as the bee populations all over the world have been declining in a rather alarming way – mostly due to pesticides.
Small scale brewing could be considered as slow food, or even as an outdoor food producing, in a way: the former chef and a current brewer master Jari Leinonen from the Fiskarsin Panimo certainly thinks so. “We participate in all kinds of festivals around the country in the summertime”, he says, as he pours a pint of “Metsän Henki”- beer: a recipe of his own. Leinonen enjoys the freedom the low scale business with his friends – there are five employees – but the work can sometimes be quite hard. Like Ollikainen, Leinonen started his brewing career as a hobby and it “just grew”, as he says. “Metsän henki” has a strong juniperish flavour, a touch of hops, and yet a soothing, soft flavour.
Most of the food sellers were too busy to be interviewed by us, but the flavours and scents of the festival lingered a long time in our minds, even hours after the event. We managed to briefly interview a juice maker N.N. (he wanted to be anonymous) from the “Kullas Gård” company. Among other agricultural products, he sells juice made of the rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa), which is considered as an invasive species in Finland. “If you can’t beat them, eat them!”, he told us while laughing.
Text and photos: Pasi Pitkänen, Janne Lammi, Aaro Hiltunen, Jaakko Ahonen (Course Food Culture)