In 1989, Viljar Veidenberg’s father Arvo made the momentous decision to transition from growing plants and roses to dairy production, and Pajumäe Farm went from housing a single milking cow to 90 today.
Two generations work side by side to care for the cattle – which totals 200 heads, with milking cows and offspring combined – and cultivate grasses and other fodder crops. All milk is processed on site, and is used to make yoghurt, cheese and other products. In 2001, the dairy farm received its organic certification – something Viljar regards as a natural continuation of things.
Ever since the beginning of the farm’s restoration, it has been important for the family that production does not damage the environment.
Viljar and his family employ both traditional organic farming methods and newer technology to manage their farm sustainably. A recently built, energy efficient dairy runs on solar energy and recycles water – helping to supply some of their energy needs while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
When it comes to reducing nutrient runoff, manure management is a critical strategy on Pajumäe Farm. A deep manure system has been established in the barn, from which composted manure is removed once a year and spread on the fields as fertilizer. Additional strategies undertaken include crop rotation, soil analysis, and the use of buffer zones and wetlands.
For Viljar and his family, the efforts have been well worth it.
“We see many indicators that nature is in good health: small insects, earthworms, different plants and birds,” Viljar says. “A stable customer base has developed for our milk products because people value our approach," he adds.
Knowledge sharing is also an important value and practice at Pajumäe Farm. Viljar regularly cooperates with other farmers and organizations to exchange ideas, and hosts educational activities for visitors, including children. In addition, he works closely with the Estonian University of Life Sciences to help develop new, sustain able farming practices.
“It’s never too late to take steps in the right direction, big or small,” says Viljar.
In 2018, Viljar Veidenberg received the national Baltic Sea Farmer of the Year Award in recognition of his efforts to reduce nutrient runoff on his farm.
- Location: Abja-Vanamõisa village in southern Estonia
- Type of farm: Organic dairy farm (400 ha)
- Main production: Dairy cows and dairy products, grasses and other fodder crops
- Key practices: Nutrient recycling, manure management, soil analysis, crop rotation, buffer zones, wetlands, natural islands
- National jury motivation: “Since its inception, Pajumäe farm has had an environmentally friendly approach to production and operation. For the members of the farm household, acting in accordance with nature is the only way to live. The farm is actively engaged in product development and discovering, testing, and applying innovative and environmentally friendly ways of farming. The jury was impressed by the farm’s complex approach to environmental issues, and a new and innovative production line in the farm’s dairy.”