Berry nice visit: StarTree field trip in North Karelia
Sparkling wine made from berries and artic bramble was on the tasting menu for the StarTree field trip and Knowledge Exchange Event (KEE). Hermanni Winery Company produces a wide range of forest berry wines and liquors although facing challenges in reaching the market and limitations on sales venues due to Finland's strict alcohol laws. A fitting setting, then, to discuss legislation issues at the third part of the StarTree KEE.
Earlier that morning, the field trip had kicked off amongst the trees with a hunt for Pakuri (Inonotus obliquus) in a birch plantation, followed by a demonstration of an innovative technique to inoculate the trees for its cultivation. This valuable fungus is thought to have beneficial health effects and is in increasing demand, particularly in Asian markets. In Asia and Russia, where Pakuri is known as Chaga, there is a long tradition of its use in tea and folk remedies. Next stop during the morning was the Heinävaara forest where a lively discussion on clear cutting and forest management techniques took place.
An essential element of StarTree field excursions is the Knowledge Exchange Event, which gives StarTree partners and local stakeholders the opportunity to discuss key issues and share experiences. This meeting, the KEE was divided into three sections, with facilitated discussion taking place in the forest, marketplace and winery. As well as the legislation issue already mentioned, there were facilitated discussion on "Innovations and forest management" and "Challenges facing SMES operating in the NWFP sector".
The StarTree marketplace glistened with berries, resins, birch sap, herbs, tar, spruce tip syrup and much more as Stakeholders from North Karelia displayed their wares and explained to the StarTree Consortium how they develop their products and the challenges faced on reaching markets. Exhibiting were Mantsin Makie, Viitarannan yrttitila, Kietäväinen Company and Artic Flavours.
The day finished with a relaxing sauna and invigorating dip in the recently unfrozen lake for the brave and the Conference Dinner at Vainoniemi Villa, hosted by the Regional Council of North Karelia with many NWFP, local and traditional fayre on the menu.
Photos: Sarah Adams