Day 8: Field Trip: Natural product training center and production environments

By: Teemu Loikkanen and Marc-Antoine Larrivée

This morning, the driver warned us cheerily when we arrived to our bus after a short but delicious breakfast at Felli. The mosquitoes were waiting! We traded stories and legends in the Nordic countries about mosquitoes driving people crazy, not to mention the suffering of poor caribous and reindeers!

Once at Kemijärvi vocational school, we headed to the woods and separated into three groups to do some plants and herbs picking. One group picked young dandelion leaves (Taraxacum officinale)  and yarrow (Achillea millefolium), a second group picked fireweed or great willow herb (Epilobium angustifolium) and the last group picked nettle leaves (Urtica dioica).With little or no wind, mosquitoes probably harvested more blood than we harvested plants! Weather was really pretty, everyone loved the area and it was a great place to take pictures and fill Instagram.

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Once back from our gathering, we waited for the staff of the cafeteria to prepare our harvest for lunch. During that time faculty members discovered the ninja game and used that time for a team-building activity.

Our delicious lunch consisted of the plants we collected and other pre-harvested forest ingredients, like false morel (be careful as if ill prepared, the toxins may cause life-threatening situations) and local ingredients.

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After lunch we had three workshops: (1) making herbal salts, (2) making herbal skin cream and (3) Identification and transformation of local plants.

It was a great opportunity to experience the training they offer in that school. There was also enough time to discuss with the teachers about the management of the school and the programs and with students about their professional career and their goals.

The school encourages entrepreneurship and it seems quite common for students to start their own businesses, expend the one they already have or build partnerships with existing companies. It has cooking installations for cosmetics, edible food preparation and bonfire grilling. Students have the possibility to reserve those installations to start their businesses. The school is interested in developing partnerships with other institutions internationally over the harvest and preparation of wild plants. Spread the word!

We were impressed by the students’ products and the zero-waste orientation of many initiatives.  We wish them a very good success in their professional journey!

For more information, you can consult the school website : https://www.redu.fi/fi/Etusivu

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