I live on the northern edge of Helsinki in a suburb called Torpparinmäki, a community clustered around a hill that barely rises above the flat bottomland of the slow-moving Vantaa River. The name Torpparinmäki translates in English to “Sharecropper’s Hill”, which gives a clue to the earlier tenants of this quiet neighborhood.
|View toward Torpparinmäki at harvest time.|
|The Tuomarinkylä Manor house, built in 1790.|
|Checking out the livestock at Haltiala.|
The Haltiala Farm, which butts up against the backyards of Torpparinmäki’s row houses and single-family homes, is apparently the last working farm within Helsinki city limits. It’s owned and operated by the city and is a popular spot for families who want to briefly treat the kids to the sight (and smell) of farm animals. At Easter, the public is even allowed into the stables where the newborn lambs are kept.
Haltiala also operates a small café that has been doing extremely good business all during this summer, especially – for some reason – with motorcyclists. The farm is a big attraction as well for the flocks of geese that have been flying over our house lately to feed among the stubble of wheat and rye.
|Associating with the locals.|
Some crops have been sown especially to be reaped by a different type of two-legged visitor. Along the road leading to the farm are fields of peas, sunflowers and assorted other flowers that members of the public can help themselves to at harvest time. In the past, I would get at least a bag or two of peas this way, but sadly I haven’t been paying enough attention in recent years and have noticed the fields are open for harvesting only after they’ve been trampled down and mostly picked clean.
|Searching for that last pea in the field.|
Still, it’s a nice touch, I think, that in Helsinki even city slickers have the opportunity to share a slice of Torpparinmäki’s history and be a pea-picker for a day.