I am spending this winter together with my beloved Keiu in heart of Estonia – the countryside of Paide. They call this region “a heart” because of its location on the map. For me it is heart of Estonia, because it has gathered a lot of people who love nature.
I get my food mostly from WWOOF farmers Raivo and Meeli (see 3). They sometimes need help with preparing firewood or carrying stones, I get nice meals and some fruits and vegetables to take away. They don’t have a big cattleshed yet, but still have their cows open-air even in winter. Seeing it helped me to destroy my stereotype that first farmer needs to build a cattleshed, only then get some animals. Many people taught me, that cows cannot eat only grass, if I want them to be productive, therefore I must give them wheat flour and vegetables. Raivo told me that it is in case of monoculture grass, where they saw a single breed of grass in arable land. But if you have natural biodiverse pasture, then you may even have 70 different species of plants there. No modern intensive agriculture can give such a variety of food for animals as nature can.
My first arrival to this area was in 2011 to a clay and straw natural building seminar organized by Equilibre NGO. Back then I did not think I might return here for longer time. They are a horsefarm, Hele is doing hippotherapy and Sven is a natural builder. At the moment Sven does finishing works for a two storey oval strawbale house. He has nice funny stories about people who see natural building for the first time. For example, one person marked it is strange there is absolutely no smell of building. When crane machine came to help lift the big logs, it’s operator took a look at the construction and asked: “Are there any REAL builders among you here??”
Paide town has Ecological renovation centre, where it is possible to get information and building materials. They save old wooden house logs from becoming a firewood and offer them to people for new building. Also old windows and doors are collected and renovated there, sometimes even porcelain outlets and light switches. There is a bicycle renovation corner and natural paint making corner. They organize biomarkets , too.
One of the participants of this biomarket are goat cheese producers Jaan and Aita. Their farm combines organic and hi-tech, so their cheese is also available in big shopping centers, nicely packaged so not only a stomach, but also the eyes of a man of industrial age could be fed.
Keiu works and lives at Vodja manor – centre for individual learning and boarding school, so most of my Estonian time I am here, too, singing, playing with children, making firewood, pancakes and blog articles. Thursday evenings I am practicing breakdance in a sportshall, anyone can join. Sometimes we organize traditional dances here, too. School has some 9 ha land, now there is chicken and rabbits, and landlords prepared a place for a vegetable garden. Instead of a button that activates some shocking sound or synth melody they ring a real bell like in the old times.
Our neighbour Kata makes us bread from flour produced in Seidla windmill. She also is a craftswoman and makes beautiful toys and gifts from natural materials.
Stone sculpturer Juris from Latvia once told me, that ancient Egyptians often had teeth diseases related to small stone pieces in their bread, therefore he will not produce such stones, and yes, I learn not to squeeze my teeth now, which is not an easy thing to do if a strong good taste of bread produces strong reflexes to “grasp” it with my mouth. My father said, that it was a normal thing in their childhood, and stones in the mill had to run empty for some time to minimize number of sand in bread. After some time there might be no more problem.
A friend from Sinimaniseele folk group, where Keiu participated during studies in Tartu, moved to these parts with her family not long ago. They acquired some land and are creating a permaculture farm. So local ecocommunity gets larger. Some of them make singing meetings a few times in month, not rehearsals before concerts, but just to meet each other and sing together. In Latvia a singing Vītoli family promoted similar small events and culture, this was where I saw it for the first time.