It is said that some of us are enthusiastic from their birth. My kind of enthusiasm is that I have been extremely responsible from my birth. Even when I was a little girl, I collected what people had dropped in nature: paper, plastic, screws, and once I even found five-mark banknote. I wonder if my mother was happy when I took everything to her.

During my studies, I consciously realized for the first time my concern about the state of nature. A few years earlier, in my home village, they had begun spraying grain fields with herbicides. Happy thing! After all, weed seed-free grain was obtained. During that time, the whole village smelled hoeeible, and I felt nauseated.

My worries only grew. So around the mid-80s, I decided to undertake some action. I lived in Helsinki and at a house committee meeting I suggested eagerly that our housing cooperative would purchase a large composter to take all the biowaste made by residents. So, everyone could get fresh compost soil. In a heartbeat my enthusiasm died down as I was laughed out. I decided to give up on the matter.

In the year 1995 my husband and I bought a run-down farm in Central Finland. In the farm there was only a latrine next to the cowshed and electric radiators in the main building. We decided to build a toilet inside the main building. “We are going to have a modern water saving dry toilet”, I said briskly. After overcoming his first astonishment, my husband swallowed my demand.

This is where the sustainability of our company, Nukula, began at first rather homely but nowadays it is linked to sustainability theories and concepts.

We undertook the effort to build our tourism company in terms of our amazing nature, historical buildings, and valuable countryside. From the very beginning, we did not survive without contradictions. I demanded to reuse all the little usable dismantled material, while my husband appreciated more the idea of about acquiring new materials. Gradually our desires became sewn together and we decided to reuse all old materials. Simultaneously with the restoration of buildings installation of the new dry toilets were completed. Some furniture was bought in flea markets and they were restored. Newly purchased wooden furniture represents the same era as the buildings.

I cleared to clear the environment with a scythe, and I found berry bushes. A few apple trees flourished on the courtyard. I missed homegrown root vegetables, salads, so we refurbished the field and since then we have cultivated and fertilized with composted waste. In our cellar root vegetables are preserved well from autumn to the following summer. Berries and apples are juiced or frozen. We bring blueberries, mushrooms, and wild herbs from our forest for the winter annually. At first, we also fished, but due to lack of time, this is now handled by a professional fisherman. Our plantation has diversified over time. So, nowadays there are growing almost 20 apple trees, some plum trees and pear trees, and numerous berry pushes. When it come to our food, we are almost self-sufficient. What we do not get from our own sources we purchase from locals. We prefer organic raw materials too. We and our customers enjoy homecooked meals without any food additives.

At the beginning it was very natural to replace the electric heating with the wood chip heating, due to the large forest area on the farm. When time started to be of the essence, the wood chips changed to wood pellets, until in 2018 we switched to geothermal heating. Thanks to that our carbon footprint crashed down at once. The forest functions as a carbon sink, and above all a source of well-being, but not any kind of forest. The best forest is a natural, wild forest in which man has not chosen the place where the trees have to grow. That forest, including always green undergrowth and various kind of and various ages of trees with advanced biodiversity is healthy, and in the healthy forest human being is healthy too.

Our customers are told that our forest is our huge living room. You can go there along the paths walking, running, skiing or using a kick sled respecting the forest and its life. Everything is alive; stones, trees, mosquitos, which is why we have not made unobstructed routes to our very rocky forest nature. However, there is an unobstructed access to the boat dock to admire the waves of lake Päijänne.

I, and my husband too, have enjoyed our freedom to plan and to carry out sustainable actions in our tourism company Nukula. As a fun fact, did you know the medical herb, nukula (Leonurus cardiaca) is growing in our garden? Both the herb and our location have mind and heart calming effects. The Green Key certificate earned in the spring of 2019 has only increased my enthusiasm for sustainable tourism. Our journey continues, welcome to a sustainable path with us!

© Hannele Levävaara