During a Press Trip organised by DG Agri within European Commission to the Baltics in March 2012, I had the opportunity to visit various farms which benefited from EU agricultural funds. Amongst the various locations visited, one very interesting eco farm in Estonia is still impressed in my mind. The enterprise is called Energia Farm and is the largest grower of herbs in Estonia. Located in the Suure-Jaarni County, the patch of 15 hectares of land is owned and run by a family business who established the farm in the beginning of the 90s after the fall of the Sovient Union. Six hectares are devoted to the cultivation of herbs.
The majority of herbs grown are sold to companies that produce medicine, beauty products and perfumes. Herbs are also processed on location to produce herbal teas. These are nicely wrapped into sachets and can be purchased directly from the farm. What struck me most about this farming family is that they were able to diversify their herb production business into a rural tourism attraction. This relatively new concept was developed thanks to the aid of LEADER funds that were absorbed to adapt the patch of land to a rural accommodation facility, spa and conference area.
While touring the farm I noticed that none of the rural structures built were invasive and blended well with the surroundings. A wooden chalet was built to accommodate no more than 20 beds, while another chalet was established to host small to medium-sized conferences. The cherry on the cake at this herb farm has a spa and sauna facility that enables the visiting guests to relax and enjoy the same aromatic herbs grown close by. The view of the stream from the wellness centre and the fresh scent in the air are nothing short of amazing. No wonder why this project is being portrayed as an example of best practice in Estonia.
The family managing the Energia Farm, are willing to invest more money in their business. Rural Development funds have already been taken up, and thanks to this, a new market is being exploited to increase the revenue of the farming enterprise. Every country has its own potential in developing new markets. I strongly believe that Malta can also promote its many assets in various ways.