| September 11th
1. Local food and enterprises in MulgimaaMulgimaa – a historical region characterised by its unique dishes, entrepreneurial spirit and the use of the black Mulgi coat with red ribbon motifs as part of their folk costume. The region has left a significant mark on Estonian traditional cuisine, including Mulgi porridge, Mulgi cabbage stew, Mulgi curd cake, and “kama”, which is a mixture of finely milled cereals and peas. These dishes are an essential part of the region’s culture up to the present day. Our travelling experience is enriched by hosts who greet us and the places we visit. Processing of garden and field crops is of the highest importance to our growers and producers. The region’s competence centre offers a range of opportunities for product development to help create high-value products for the market. This special trip offers a unique taste experience.
2. Cultural heritage in MulgimaaMulgimaa is an area located in southern Estonia. The region is known for its special food and unique architecture (so-called farmstead manor houses). Mulgimaa stimulates the senses with the beautiful alternating landscapes of the Sakala Uplands and has an equally varied local cultural heritage. We visit places that capture and convey this heritage. We will see a collection of national handicraft, traditional domestic appliances and pottery. There are tourist farms and a sports centre in the forest which has a wide range of recreational activities, accommodation and delightful food. Mulgimaa has always been a wealthy place. A popular Estonian song describes this ̶ “It is good to live in Mulgimaa. Beautiful nature and fertile ground everywhere. There are great woods, large wealthy Estonian farms …” ̶ all the values of Mulgimaa are encapsulated in these verses.
3. Living close to nature – history, hikes and horsesMatsalu National Park is one of the most important nesting and stopover sites for waterfowl in Europe. Over 2 million waterfowl stop here during their migration, of them about 230 000 stay for shorter or longer periods. The busiest times for birdwatching are spring and autumn, so we may have a glimpse of the migrating birds. In the Visitor Centre a 20-minute multi-media programme takes us through four seasons at Matsalu. The permanent exhibition shows the habitats and species of the Park and the area’s cultural heritage.Matsalu National Park has not only excellent birdwatching but also hiking opportunities. One of the most mysterious places in the Park is Salevere Salumägi hill, which is a type of relief designed by glacial ice and the Baltic Sea. During the 1.5 km walk we will see the Silmaallikas spring, a ridge of a prehistoric defence structure, nemoral forest at the foot of the hill and alvar forest on top of it.Lihula town is an important historical site. The ancient stronghold represents one of the unique fortifications of the 13th century in the Baltics. The permanent exhibition in the Lihula Museum presents local history and archaeological finds from the neighbourhood. The temporary exhibition shows the best examples of Lihula embroidery.Matsalu area is sparsely populated. However some people prefer it to bustling cities. 19 years ago a family with now 5 children moved to Massu manor, where they offer horse riding services. We can see how they manage and whether they are satisfied with their decision to live in the countryside.
4. Follow your passions – hemp, theatre, glass and archeryIn Läänemaa County, as well as elsewhere in Estonia, the population is sparse, but the people are united and ambitious. This study tour takes you to places which cannot be seen from the highway. Behind the forest stands and golden fields you can find treasures that tell a story about nature and heritage. Läänemaa is known for its nature-friendly attitude and organic foods – this is what many farmers make their living from. One of the best ecological brands in Estonia, Tammejuure eco farm follows the example of our ancestors and as a family business now grows and processes hemp and other grains.The lives of communities are enriched by theatre, art and a variety of sporting activities including archery.
5. How to thrive in small villages?!This study tour gives you an insight into the way of life in the countryside. Nedrema wooded meadow is the biggest of its kind in Northern Europe. It is a popular hiking and picnic destination during spring and summer – it is an interesting and carefully preserved habitat with lots of plant species to explore. Lääneranna municipality is the second least populated municipality in Estonia – having only four people per square kilometre. The area is characterised by small groups of villages scattered amongst bogs, swamps and rich forests. Oidrema is a very old village, first mentioned in chronicles in the 12th century. Although the village has only 109 habitats there is a very active community both in enterprise and keeping old traditions alive. It is the village where you can get the best organic milk and other dairy products.Paadrema area contains 13 villages with about 200 inhabitants. The village centre is located in the former Paadrema school which has facilities for providing a wide range of activities including: handicrafts, billiards, table tennis, novus (koroona) etc., there is also a modern community kitchen. Many furnishings and items have been acquired through funding from a range of projects, such as billiard tables, fitness gear, weaving looms, a ceramic kiln and a contemporary kitchen. The village centre is in active use.Matsi is a historical fishing harbour with an old boathouse and a ferro-concrete pier, the harbour fell into disuse in the late 1980s. The boathouse was renovated in 2018 through LEADER funding and future plans include renovating the pier and building a new slip, parking lots and toilets. There is sufficient space for new buildings, e.g. a café, visitor centre, or harbour office.Matsi harbour hosts public events in summer, e.g. the local sea festival. The boathouse is not insulated nor has it a heating system, thus is unsuitable for use in colder seasons.”The Poll Diaries” film was shot near the harbour in 2009.
6. Active entrepreneurs in SoomaaThe first destination of this study tour is in Niidu village, where you can meet South-American alpacas in Estonia’s largest alpaca farm. The farm also features pygmy goats, Ouessant sheep, and Angora rabbits. The trip continues on a study trail in Riisa bog in Soomaa National Park, the trail has a scenic route through a bog and forests on the Navesti River. A total of 1,220 m of the trail is accessible by wheelchairs or with baby buggies. The trail has larger platforms with seats for taking a rest, tasting cranberries or bilberries, enjoying the silence of the bogs or climbing up into a viewing tower. Thereafter we’ll visit Jõesuu village house (community centre). Here we are hosted by energetic local ladies who are talented at making ceramics or hand-made cards or cooking delicious food. Active people can also be found at our next stop at Tori Cider Farm, whose produce has earned a number of quality labels and international acclaim. Traditional methods are used in cider-making where fermentation in bottles and a long maturing period render a particularly rich, earthy taste. The farm shop is open for a cup of coffee, a glass of cider or purchasing farm products. The farm is very inspirational – come and see for yourself!
7. Resounding silence in SoomaaThe study tour starts in the varied wetland landscapes of Kuresoo bog. There is a board walk dotted with platforms for resting, and in the nights before Midsummer Eve both the silence and concerts of classical music may be enjoyed here. These landscapes inspired the Estonian composer Mart Saar whose former home is now his museum. We continue the trip at Energia Farm on the Navesti River where peace and quiet can be found in the world of herbs, walking trails, a tea house with a viewing tower and an eco-spa. A water mill used to work on the river but today the site features Vanaõue Holiday Centre, our next stop. Besides traditional holiday and seminar services the centre is famed for providing local tastes, they raise a flock of sheep and use game in their cooking. Fine tastes, positive thoughts and enticing apple scents greet you at Piesta Kuusikaru Farm. They produce apple juice, spicy apple drinks, natural apple vinegar, dried apple slices, apple syrups with mint and applestroop in Dutch style. Come and enjoy the music of silence!
8. The nature and people of TõstamaaPeople who live in this coastal area of Pärnu County care for their community, and love the exquisite landscapes and rural life style. The picturesque scenery and scattered villages with the wonderful Tõstamaa manor building are filled with emotions and satisfaction. Traditions of local handicraft go back to the 19th century and cherish the skills of ancestors. Local-style folk costumes are honoured but old skills have also inspired new designs.
9. The nature and people on the coast of The Livonian BayThis part of Estonia is known for vast areas of forests and bogs. The area is characterised by both a string of villages along a narrow strip of arable land between the sea and large wetlands, and remote forest farms. People in this sparsely populated region have historically lived off fishery, forestry, crafts and trade. Now the area has become an attractive recreation and nature tourism destination.