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What’s your story?

Samppa and I are both originally from the city. We wanted to move to the countryside and found the perfect spot in 2010 here in Petäjävesi. We took in three sheep for the first summer, a summer that was mostly spent chasing them around, but we were hooked.

We then started to build our farm into a travel business. Our first lambs came in 2012, and in 2016, we started our Day at the Farm tours. It took us until 2019 to open our customer facilities.

 

Quick facts

 

– Small sheep farm and farm travel destination in Petäjävesi, 30 km from Jyväskylä
– Have grown their business during the pandemic with innovative products such as virtual sheep encounters for remote meetings
– Owned by Maija and Samppa Suutarinen with their two daughters. Employees include one keeper and 2 to 4 service staff members

 

Hakamaa Sheep Farm,

Metsäkulmantie 543, 41900 Petäjävesi

 

hakamaanlammastila.fi/en/

How did Covid-19 change your operations?

We were quite busy getting our farm ready for international visitors. When the pandemic hit, everything was cancelled overnight. But we’ve never let setbacks stop us, and so we started working on new services.

In fact, you can say the pandemic gave us a shot in the arm! We went on to develop services for bored families and stressed remote workers. Now we also provide places to nap or just lie down during the day – you can chill out for a while in our forest or sheepfold.

I also started to host Facebook Live streams where I told about our life here with the sheep. Then someone said they’d be happy to pay for it. That led to us creating a concept for the service. Now we provide sheep for meetings on Zoom and Teams. These services let you see how the animals live and perhaps even learn something new. Our Zoom Sheep can take part in all kinds of meetings, and many have found them to be a really fun addition

Can you tell us more about your sheep and other animals?

For us, it’s imperative that our animals get to have a good life. In addition to sheep, we have a couple of ponies, a flock of chickens, cats and dogs.

Our sheep get to go outdoors all year round, and we want to do everything we can before medicating our sheep. I’ve told our staff that the sheepfold needs to be clean enough for us to sleep in, and their drinking water should be as good as ours.

What about health and safety of visitors?

We want to remain small. During the pandemic, we’ve allowed visitors in groups, two to five people at a time. Many of our services have been virtual. Although we’ve let some things go without repair to suit the romantic countryside aesthetic, our farm is clean and hygienic.

Studies have also shown that the forest and nature in general can lower stress levels and blood pressure. Here, you actually need be calm because the animals can sense your mood, and they won’t come near you if you’re anxious.

Do you provide any other services for visitors?

We’ve used crowdfunding to expand our services, as we’re opening a restaurant. Previously, I’ve been the head chef and we’ve served delicious home-made food in our yard. Although it has been part of our charm, we’re delighted to have a professional chef run the restaurant for a change. We value simple, clean and ethically produced ingredients and all the wild food our forests provide.

We also have a small farm shop where we sell our own and local products, and we provide farm stays for up to six people.

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