Pioneering Estonian farmer inspires others to use eco-friendly farming methods to protect the Baltic Sea



Posted on 23 August 2013  | 
Estonian farmer Juhan Särgava is today presented with the WWF Baltic Sea Farmer of the Year Award at a ceremony in Helsinki, Finland. He is awarded for his innovative, diverse and cost effective methods to reduce nutrient runoff while producing high quality organic dairy products. The Award was created by WWF to recognize the importance of farmers who are taking active steps to aide the fight against eutrophication.

National competitions have been held in all countries around the Baltic Sea this year and Juhan Särgava and his farm were considered the most outstanding from amongst the national winners. As the regional winner of the competition, Juhan Särgava received a 10,000 Euro prize, in recognition of his accomplishment.

“By winning this award, it helps to bring the benefits of organic farming to the forefront and dignifies organic farming as a whole,” says Juhan. “Competitions like this, and media’s attention, can inspire like-minded people and motivate those who have only been thinking about becoming an organic farmer.”

Juhan Särgava has been a pioneer in Estonia since he developed a self-sustaining organic farm already in 1992.He has put great effort into reusing and recycling natural resources on the farm. Recently, an innovative water recycling system was constructed at the farm that re-uses heat and water in a very efficient way. He also uses the bi-product of the diary production to water his fields and feed the cattle in an effort to reduce the loss of nutrients.

Juhan Särgava’s runs an organic dairy farm that produces numerous high quality organic certified products such as curds, creams, cheeses and yoghurts. His philosophy is to be self-sustaining and to produce healthy products while minimising the impact on the surrounding environment. He is a positive spokes-person in the region and advocates best organic practices that others can learn from, for example by welcoming many visitor groups at the farm.

“It is necessary to form, develop and boost positive attitudes towards environmentally friendly and organic production,” he says. “Pictures and books about organic farming are nice but I think the most convincing thing is to see how organic farming actually works in practice.”

Farmers are part of the solution
The WWF Baltic Sea Farmer of the Year Award is a competition intended to inspire farmers in the entire Baltic Sea region to take an active part in combating eutrophication. It was launched in 2009 by WWF in cooperation with the Baltic Farmers Forum for the Environment, and farmers’ organisations from around the Baltic Sea.

The purpose of the Award is to highlight best practices in “Baltic-friendly” farming and to recognise and promote farmers who are leading in innovative measures to reduce runoff from their farms. “Farmers are part of the solution and are the best in teaching each other new practices to change the future of the Baltic Sea,” says Ottilia Thoreson, Manager of the WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme.

The Baltic Sea is still one of the most threatened seas in the world. Eutrophication or over-fertilization has been identified as the single most important threat to its health and agricultural runoff is the main cause.
"Farmers are often blamed for the problems we face today with the Baltic Sea," says Ottilia. "With this award we can truly showcase and raise awareness about all the good initiatives being practiced around the region to move to more environmentally friendly farming."

Information to editor
The award is presented at a ceremony at the International Baltic Sea Conference “A Greener Agriculture for a Bluer Baltic Sea” held at Scandic Marina Congress Center in Helsinki, Finland.

The international jury’s motivation for the 2013 Regional Winner of the WWF Baltic Farmer of the Year Award:
The international jury presented Juhan Särgava with the Award for his success in demonstrating how a large scale organic farm can use innovative, diverse and cost effective methods to reduce nutrient runoff while producing high quality organic dairy products. Mr. Särgava has furthermore gone the extra mile on his farm by minimising the use of natural resources and energy by using an innovative water recycling system. He has been a pioneer in the field of organic farming in Estonia since the early 90’s and proven to be an exemplary ambassador for eco-friendly farming. The jury is delighted to acknowledge Juhan Särgava with this award and hope his positive example may now provide inspiration for other farmers across the Baltic Sea region.

Press photos:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/yb5x8h83zhspupm/MjMGJBp1k1 (Photos will be made available after press conference – 13:30 CET)

For more information, contact:
Katja Nuorvala, Communications Officer, WWF Finland
Tel: +358 40 592 6532
Email: katja.nuorvala@wwf.fi

Mariliis Tago, Communications Officer, Estonian Fund for Nature
Tel: +372 5623 1633
Email: mariliis@elfond.ee

Ottilia Thoreson, Manager, WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme
Tel: +46-73 27 45 867
Email: ottilia.thoreson@wwf.se

"It is necessary to form, develop and boost positive attitudes towards environmentally friendly and organic production," says Estonian winner Juhan Särgava
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