Telkkämäki Heritage Farm
Today the heritage farm’s main house and grounds are open to the public.
Landscapes Moulded by Slash-and-Burn
Slash-and-burn agriculture has been practised in Finland from prehistoric times. Slash-and-burn agriculture played an important part in why North Savo has been permanently settled from the beginning of the 15th Century. Especially slash-and-burn cultivation in coniferous forest has been the technical and economic foundation for settlements in the area.
The most evident signs of past slash-and-burn activity are stone piles left from when the patches were cleared, green leafed forests, which have grown in once burnt areas and dug holes in the ground left where turnips have been stored.
Slash-and-Burn Continues at Telkkämäki
Metsähallitus has practised traditional slash-and-burn agriculture at Telkkämäki since 1993. Usually the patches have been in young deciduous forest. The first ‘huuhtakaski’, which is mainly applied in pristine spruce woods, was carried out in 2000. After this the short rotation ‘rieskakaski’ - slash-and-burn method has been used in the area. ‘Rieskakaski’ is burnt in young shrub-like deciduous forest. There has been at least one slash-and-burn fire each year, except during a couple years when there was crop failure.
The areas that will be burnt in the near future can be recognised as trees are girdled and allowed to die standing. Girdling is the process of removing much of the bark around a tree's outer circumference thus causing them to die. These trees are felled in April and left to dry, while other slash-and-burn forest is felled in July. The patch is then burnt the next year at the end of May or beginning of June. Short rotation ‘rieskakaski’ is burnt the same year the trees are felled. The patch being burnt is set alight along its whole width. When the fire has burnt the ground to a depth of around 2 cm the burning earth is shifted forward with special tools to the next spot that needs to be burnt. Earth is then shifted like this until the whole area is burnt. Burning the land binds the minerals from the soil and trees to the field so they aide crops to grow.
Crops grown on slash-and-burn land include turnips, rye, barley, buckwheat, oats and flax. If the turnip it is grown, it is sown during the week before the Mid-Summer celebration in late June. The old way to sow turnip seeds is putting them in the mouth and spitting them out down to the ground. The area is raked before and after sowing. Burnt-land rye is traditionally sowed on August 10th. At that time the land is first ploughed and then raked before the actual sowing. The rye harvested in Telkkämäki is originally from this area and it has been saved in a gene bank, so that future generations will get to harvest and taste it as well.
The turnip crop is harvested in the autumn just before the weather turns freezing. Winter rye is mowed in the next autumn. It is then hung to dry and then threshed. The whole surrounding community gives a hand when the hay is cut.