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Published: August 25th 2013
Yesterday I got to the island of Saaremaa from Tallinn via a bus and a ferry. The journey was particularly uncomfortable as I had had a rather heavy night preceding it where I didn't get to bed until after 6am. I had gone with people from the hostel to a Australian backpackers bar (uncultured I know but hearing Aussie music was ridiculously comforting) then to a bar, popular for locals and tourists, called Labour where drinks were served in test tubes and beakers and named after chemicals and things. I’m not sure where the time went but I think I spent a good hour having a political debate. Anyway I somehow managed to get up at 8:30 and in still in last night’s clothes got to the bus stop where I about an hour before a bus was going to Saaremaa so I was able to get some bacon and eggs. I think it took about three or four hours to get here, the ferry being only about half an hour. The island is very pretty and I think a lot of people including Estonians come here during the summer time. I got off the bus at Orrisaare where I was
going to get another bus or hitchhike to my helpex hosts farm. I went into a gift shop to ask the lady that worked there for directions to the address Marju had emailed me but when I showed her she told me she knew Marju (because she baked bread for her) and so she called her to come and pick me up. While I was waiting in the gift shop this lady brewed my some home grown peppermint tea, offered me Estonian chocolate (which was amazing), buckwheat cookies (made by my host Marju) and let me taste some Estonian honey. There are a lot of small scale farms on the island, many of them being organic- today Olev told me that they don’t often sell produce at farmers markets because most people on the island have someone nearby who can sell them vegetable etc. Olev and Marju’s farm has a range of fruits and vegetables including raspberries, red currents, apples, plums, potatoes, beetroot, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes and more. They mainly produce these for their own consumption and possibly sell some to their neighbours- I must ask about that. They also grow buckwheat and spelt which they mill into flour and
bake goods with. Their main business is selling the baked goods such as buckwheat cookies, bread and cakes as well as flour and buckwheat. So far my chores have mostly consisted of picking berries including raspberries, red currents and these yellow berries which I have forgotten the name of. It was great to pick the yellow berries and then see Marju use them to make a delicious icing for a carrot cake. Yesterday Olev harvested some of the buckwheat but because they have had so much rain recently it was still a bit moist so we had to drive to one of the neighbours houses to use their grain dryer. This was such a perplexing experience for me as it just seemed like a lot of work and surely if left in the paddock for a few more days it would be fine. I guess I am use to larger scale operations where it isn't really practical to do this. It was a lot of fun and feels very traditional which is kind of enriching. Today and yesterday Marju has been very busy because there is a market on the mainland where she is selling the farms produce tonight we packed up the car and she headed off after dinner. It’s 8pm now and I might go for a walk around the farm with Dimeau (the dog) before it gets dark.
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