Ando Eelmaa, manages his family’s farm in Estonia for now 30 years and has a forestry education. He is the chairman of the board of the Estonian Private Forest Union and of The Nature Fund as well.
Marie Orban, ENPLC: “Thank you, Ando, for being part of the ENPLC community. Could you share with us how you approach conservation measures in your land?”
The estate covers 1600 ha, two-thirds of which is forest land and 300 ha of agricultural land. We produce cider and jam. Our mission is to handle all our activities in an environmental and organic way.
The Korjuse-Vanapere farm has apple orchards, an arolonia, sea-buckthorn and blackcurrant orchard plus a vegetable garden. We produce apples for organic cider and extensive organic beef cattle pastured on permanent and semi-natural grasslands.
Ando Eelmaa hugging one of his trees. Photo credit: @kloostrimetsa
Forestry activities consist mainly of timber production for wood processing. Felling residues and low-quality wood is harvested as biomass for energy.
They have transformed a natural forest worthless for wood production into a wooded meadow, and they maintain several habitats of protected species.
There is around 70 ha of Natura 2000 areas within the estate. Natura 2000 is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world. It offers a haven to Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats.
The Estate is awarded with Wildlife Estates Label from 2013 onwards. WE is an association of NGOs and European administrative bodies in the fields of game and the sustainable management of natural resources, coordinated by the European Landowners’ Organization (ELO).
Even in the backyard, we mow as little as possible Photo credit: @kloostrimetsa
Organic beef farming
Ando Eelmaa’s farm raised about a hundred beef cattle, Hereford and Galloway breeds are still taken care of by an external tenant. Photo credit: Julia-Maria Linna
Ando made the first cider-making experiments ten years ago. Now the apple and pear trees spread over seven hectares. More than 70 varieties have been tested, among them both old Estonian varieties and special varieties bred for cider production.
One thing was certain from the beginning – the raw materials must be home-grown and organic. Our uniqueness is our varieties and the land on which the trees grow.
Cider house. Photo credit: @ kloostrimetsa
Birch sap & maple sap
Since 1999 we have been harvesting and selling birch sap. And recently we started selling maple sap. During spring, there is a pop-up self-service cart at the farm gate for buying fresh maple and birch sap.
Pop-up shop at the farm gate. Photo credit: @ kloostrimetsa