The story of Piesta Kuusikaru farm began in 1868 when Hardi’s great-great-grandfather Gustav bought the farmstead from the local landlord. Gustav Jürgenstein belonged to the generation of national awakening and the story of his life is an excellent example of the growth of Estonian nation – having lost his father at a young age, Gustav worked his way up first as a shoemaker and finally became a respected farmer as well as a landowner in his own right.
The successful farm was handed down to the youngest son Voldemar whose older brothers were more focused on education, literature and journalism. The next generation to take over the management of Piesta Kuusikaru was Hardi’s grandmother Liina with her husband Mihkel who was not only highly educated in agricultural management but also proved to be successful out on the field.
This success story of three generations came to a brutal end in the disastrous 1940s when the family, although escaping the deportation to Siberia, was forced to leave their homestead for good.
For Hardi, one of the most distinctive memories from his childhood became the conviction of grandfather Mihkel that the tide will turn and Estonia will eventually be free again. As the former properties were returned to rightful owners in the early 1990s, it was clear that one day it will be time for a restart.
Aiming to give Piesta Kuusikaru farm a new start, we began from scratch in 2014. All former buildings had been destroyed, fields and pastures had completely overgrown and could hardly be told apart from the forest. However, there were still some elderly neighbours who remembered the orchards of Hardi’s grandmother Liina and grandfather Mihkel, thus giving us hope that apple trees may have a future here as well. Having cleared the field from woods, we were ready to plant our first apple trees in the spring of 2016 and are looking forwad to our first harvest within a couple of years.
Until then, to give ourselves some practice while we wait for our young apple trees to grow, we have rented a small part of a mature orchard and began with experimental production in the autumn of 2015.
Our first products of the farm’s new era were pure organic apple juice and spiced apple drink in the style of Scandinavian glögg or mulled wine. Since then, we have also started to produce natural apple cider vinegar, dried apple slices, apple shrub syrup, Dutch-style applestroop… The idea is to create a multi-faceted portfolio of various products made from apples as well as different berries.
Since the name of the farm is a bit long to remember, we have opted for Piesta as the brandname – much like the farm itself, the historical name of the village has thus began a new life.
On the side of the main production, we also provide accommodation on the farm. Future plans include organising of various events and building a heritage trail around the old homestead to honour the family’s history.