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Most beautiful farms for year 2015 announced and awarded

For the first time in a row, the award ceremony that took place at the President of Latvia’s residence in the Blackheads House concluded the ‘Skaistākā lauku saimniecība’ (‘The Most Beautiful Farm’) contest, in which 2015’s most beautiful farms in Latvia were awarded. This year, the most beautiful farm turned out to be ‘Vārpas’ in Zvārde Parish, Saldus Municipality; its owners are Valdis and Ļuba Markevics.

More than twenty years ago, the owners of ‘Vārpas’ quite literally conquered this farm from the jungle. Before that, this area was part of the Zvārde Air Force Practice Site. Now, ‘Vārpas’ engages in sheep farming, with its herd comprising some 300 sheep. The Markevics family received a plaque confirming their ‘2015 Most Beautiful Farm’ status, as well as a paid-for trip for two to the International Green Week in Berlin, which is the world’s largest international food, farming and gardening fair, to take place on 15—24 January 2016.

‘People shape the environment in which they live; it is also true that the environment shapes the people. I am convinced that the more beautiful, well cared for and pleasant the environment, in which someone’s personality is brought up, is, the better that person becomes. We all have childhood memories of our relatives’ farmhouses where we spent a summer or two: these memories are so bright exactly because the owners of these places did everything to help each of us feel at home there. I wish that all your households manage to create a farm so beautiful that your children and their children’s children will still want not only to visit it, but also to continue the work you have started,’ the President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis told.

For the first time in this contest’s history, two special prizes were awarded. The dairy processing company Food Union award in the ‘2015 Best New Farm’ category was given to ‘Lillas’, Umurga Parish, Limbaži Municipality, and its owners Inga Purava and Rihards Šķeltiņš. The ‘Lillas’ farm operates in Vidzeme and Kurzeme since five years ago, and its main activity is lavender farming. In Vidzeme, ‘Lilla’ grows eight species of lavender, with the total number of plants grown reaching 21 thousand. When the lavender is harvested, it is turned into various products, from fragrant flower bunches to lavender oil.

‘Every year, this contest brings joy to the jury and everyone in Latvia, with its beautiful, inspiring and fruitful farms that have found their own place on Latvia’s map. This year’s finalists show that you do not have to be born in a rural family or inherit hundreds of hectares of land to turn into a farmer. The “Lilla” farm is a testament to the fact that, in Latvia, there can be successful farms built completely from scratch, and that they can engage in a type of farming that is not traditional to Latvia at all — if this is the new farmers’ dream and if all their efforts are directed towards fulfilling it,’ the deputy council chair of Food Union, Harijs Panke, said.

Latvia’s only rural lifestyle magazine ‘IEVAS Māja’ gave an award to the farm that honours the old traditions, and its owners live in unison with nature — the ‘2015 Followers of the Spitit of “Straumēni”.’ This award went to the ‘Ezersēta’ farm in Raiskums Parish, Pārgauja Municipality, and its owners — Andreta and Alekss Rasmussens. The owners have repaired the old buildings of the farm; they currently use 150 hectares of land. Half of it is used as pasture for 120 heads of cattle, while the other is cultivated to grow grain and beans. Alekss Rasmussens came to Latvia less than 20 years ago to study farming, to fall in love with the country and a local woman, Andreta: together, they have built one of the most beautiful farms in Latvia.

‘In his poem “Straumēni” Edvarts Virza says that “it is not only poetry and the tower reaching into the sky that is eternal; the building and the country that is well-cared for by its owners is eternal as well.” And I am very happy to conclude tonight that, with such owners as the contest finalists, our country will endure forever, too. Because of this contest, its finalists also become ambassadors for rural lifestyle: these people are a true example and an inspiration for those who only working on building their own farm, to match Virza’s “Straumēni”,’ the IEVAS Māja chief editor Kristīne Vilīte confidently noted.

Among the contest’s finalists there were also the ‘Āriņi’ farm in Daukstes Parish, Gulbene Municipality, and its owners Līga Ende-Griķe and Aivars Griķis; ‘Eriņi’ in Dāviņi Parish, Bauska Municipality and its owner Andris Grantiņš; ‘Gaili’ in Snēpele Parish, Kuldīga Municipality and its managers Zigurds Spinga and Dzintra Arāja; ‘Pededzes’ in Litene Parish, Gulbene Municipality, and its owners Oksana and Jānis Plūme; ‘Turaidas’ in Dunalka Parish, Durbe Municipality, and its owner Zigrīda Manteja.

The contest was organised by the leading dairy processing company Food Union and the only rural lifestyle magazine in Latvia, IEVAS Māja. The winners and finalists were greeted at the award ceremony of the contest by the President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis.

Any owner, manager or other authorised person of a farm in Latvia that conducts agricultural activities and is beautiful and well cared for could participate in the contest. The participants of the contest were evaluated both in terms of the visual image of the farm, from the road sign and the well-mowed lawn to the proudly flying flag in front of the house – as well as in how the actual farming is done and how well the owners keep the garden.

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