Practice of wild berry picking in Finnish Lapland: Discourses and practices of globalization and locality


Jarno Valkonen (University of Lapland, Finland) & Pekka Rantanen (University of Tampere, Finland)



Berry picking has a long tradition in Finland both as a means of recreation and acquiring additional income, especially in remote parts of Finland. Business oriented branch of berry picking industry has been changing rapidly since Finland joined the European Union. International competition has increased and protective tariffs are hardly possible in order to protect Finnish berry picking industry. Several measures have been taken in order to develop the industry in Lapland, for example various ESR-supported and other development programmes. However, foreign berry pickers have arrived in increasing numbers to Lapland to do seasonal labour in the forests. The phenomenon is recent and there is hardly any information regarding its effect on local communities of Lapland and its effect on the berry picking business in general. We have started a project Sustainable Development of Wild Berry Picking in Finnish Lapland which aims to study role of foreign berry pickers and their effects on the industry and local communities. The main aim of this study is to provide information how sustainable berry picking industry may continue and grow in Lapland regardless of the various pressures it has to face in coming years such as increasing international competition and need to develop upgraded products for the markets. In order to develop local berry picking rationally, there is a need for knowledge about the use of foreign berry pickers whose use has wide effects on prices of berries and also wider societal implications such as reputation of the industry and interaction with local culture of Finnish Lapland. The project is a case study which deals berry picking as a whole in order to locate the foreign berry pickers in the contexts of Lapland's local government, industry, local community, domestic berry pickers and as a part of Northern regional economy. Our presentation will introduce the setting of the study and give preliminary findings of our empirical field work.