The Aava Kerttu homestead in Södra Vallgrund is full of bustle – and no wonder, there are over 80 animals living there! The farm welcomes tourists who want to visit its cats, bunnies, goats, sheep, kids, two ponies, Mangalica pigs, a pot-bellied pig, hens, quails, ducks, geese, Silkie hens and a cock, chicks, heifers, a cow and its three calves. The farm is also home to a dog, but it stays inside while there are visitors.
As well as the animals, the Aava Kerttu homestead is where Anna Salmi and Kimmo Kauppila live with their daughters Aava Kerttu and Sylvi. Together, the couple look after the animals. Anna runs the farm’s tourism activities and takes care of group bookings and other visitor-related things, whereas Kimmo does the repairs and cooks for the groups, as he is a trained chef. Both Anna and Kimmo also work outside the farm. Kimmo is the owner of Café & Restaurant Salteriet and he works there as a cook.
What makes the Aava Kerttu homestead special are its well-tended animals and unique old-world surroundings. Cats pad alongside the hens freely at the Aava Kerttu farm.
What makes the Aava Kerttu homestead special are its well-tended animals and unique old-world surroundings.
“In the old days, our grandparents had animals at home. Small farms with animals have disappeared and children don’t have such easy access to see and watch animals now. Not all children even know where food comes from anymore," Kimmo says.
The occupants of the Aava Kerttu homestead get their eggs, milk, honey and meat from their own farm.
“I once said I was going to buy some eggs from the shop. Aava Kerttu, who was four, said that you can’t buy eggs from the shop because they don’t have any chickens,” Kimmo remembers, smiling.
The couple first started with a cat and a dog and then got a goat and some sheep. From then on, their collection of animals has gradually grown.
Their family of animals grew gradually
Cats pad alongside the hens freely at the Aava Kerttu farm and everyone lives side by side in harmony. The farm owners have no trouble remembering each animal by its name, and Anna even remembers when they were born. It seems like a lot of animals for a couple who grew up in the city.
The couple had always dreamed of living in the countryside and moved to Laihia, just south-east of Vaasa, at first. The peace of the countryside balanced out Kimmo’s work in a nightclub nicely. After starting with a cat and a dog, they got a goat and some sheep. Then their family of animals extended to include hens, a horse and a pony.
By then, they were showing kindergarten children around the farm. When their home in Laihia began to feel a little cramped they found a new home in an old farmhouse in Södra Vallgrund.
“We started to market our farm to kindergartens and schools. Word spread gradually. There were more and more visitors and often at unexpected times, which started to feel a bit trying. So we decided to open up to visitors on certain days only,” Kimmo explains.
Terho the pig watches visitors from his pen.
The homestead is a reminder of the past
The Aava Kerttu homestead is a popular destination for families with children. The farm also organises children’s birthday parties, which are in great demand. They also offer bachelor and bachelorette parties.
“We get elderly people and people with memory disorders too as visitors. You can tell that it’s a huge experience for them to see all this. Our homestead reminds them of the past, and often our older visitors marvel at the homely smell,” Kimmo says.
Children's favourites at the farm are the bunnies and cats. The Aava Kerttu homestead has organised day-long events for children, where they can look after a kid for a whole day, as well as nature and art camps. Children have particularly loved feeding the calves from baby bottles.
Children love the little kids.
The Aava Kerttu homestead is open from Tuesday to Saturday up until the 12th of August. Outside the summer season, the homestead is available for groups by prior arrangement year round. In May 2016, the farm got its own apiary for beekeeping, and the couple plans to start selling World Heritage honey.
Text and photographs: VASEK
Translation: Taina Pemberton
Read the other articles about the Kvarken archipelago:
Molpehällorna island, Cruise to the Mickelsörarna, Granösund Museum, Sommaröhallen crafts shop, Merenkurkun Majatalo inn, Kvarkenturer & Villa Meribjörkö.