In Finland, trialling the winter harvesting of the common reed provides a greater availability of sustainable resources with collateral environmental benefits.
This project combines the use of a material often considered as a hazardous waste (the common reed) and a recent innovation (the winter mowing of the reeds). This has resulted in products that, in the spirit of the circular economy, are transformable and offer various uses; the development of new ecologically sustainable sources of livelihood; the improvement of the environmental health and recreational use of water areas, and the promotion of a community spirit. All these elements were achieved in one extremely cost-effective package.
The project developed a winter-time harvesting chain for the common reed, enabling cultivation in difficult conditions such as ice and snow. This includes the development of mowing equipment to be used on ice, for the bundling, baling or shredding, and the storage of the reed. In addition, the project tested the use of the common reed for roofs in parks and gardens, as well as for handicrafts, small structures, and as a filter. The project found that winter mowing has positive environmental effects and that the reed mowed in the winter can be used in similar ways, such as ditch water cleaning and small-scale construction. As a result of the project, small-scale entrepreneurship can now develop around the cultivation of the common reed in Finland .
The project resulted in the creation of a new company (cooperative) based on the use of the common reed. The cooperative includes around 10 members who have continued to develop the use and commercialisation of the common reed, even after the end of the project.
Winter mowing has proven to have a positive environmental impact and the reed mowed in the winter can be used in different ways, such as an outdoor roofing material, for ditch water cleaning, and small-scale construction, for example.