In 2008, Kimmo was listening to Paula playing records at an indie pop club in Helsinki. Now, 8 years later, the couple have moved from Puu-Vallila, Helsinki to Kaukonen, Kittilä and are sitting in a large log house formerly used by reindeer herders.
Olavi, age 3, takes a sip of sima (Finnish non-alcoholic mead) from a glass at the end of the long table and hurries across the yard to his great-grandmother. Kimmo’s parents also live in their own house at the Ojanperä farmstead. The relocation to Kaukonen was supposed to be only temporary, but Paula, Kimmo and Olavi ended up staying.
Freedom to do things in our own way
– I’m sure we were the last people expected to continue running the farm, says Paula, 37.
Kimmo’s parents have a barn for 25 cows, but Paula and Kimmo had other plans. The couple dreamed about disconnecting from urban life and living in the countryside. The idea of starting a homestay in Lapland was already brewing back in Helsinki. When Kimmo’s parents granted their permission to use the Ojanperä farmstead, Mummola Travels was born.
– None of my siblings wanted to continue running the dairy farm, and we were thinking about an alternative way to keep the place occupied, says Kimmo, 33.
The barn, maintained by Kimmo’s parents, stands next door to Mummola Travels. When fresh milk is available, travelers get to use it to make a pancake. At the Mummola homestay in Lapland, local experiences are created from small things. After waking up in a small room formerly occupied by the cook of a logging house, a traveler can take a tour around village of Kaukonen. Evening schedules consist of weaving a rug or baking bread ‒ and having a sauna, of course.
– I like to think of this as Lapland’s equivalent to those cooking and crafting shows on TV, Paula comments.
Moving to Kaukonen has given Paula and Kimmo the freedom to do things their own way. A former optician, Paula runs a small gift shop and bears the main responsibility for Mummola’s activities. Kimmo, a Master of Science (Technology) in electronics, also works online for a digital marketing company based in Rovaniemi. The couple are also working on a digital Mummola game for travelers and children.
Idyllic life-style in Kaukonen
After a decade in Helsinki, the couple find Kaukonen village, with its 350 residents, a good place to live, even though they occasionally miss their friends. Paula says that having Kittilä Airport nearby helps.
– Helsinki is only 90 minutes away.
The idyllic village of Kaukonen was the home of renowned Lapland-based artist Reidar Särestöniemi. Many homestay guests in Lapland follow ‘Reitari’s’ footsteps along a footpath through the forest to Särestöniemi Museum. For a small municipality, Kittilä has an active cultural life. For example, the summer performance art festival, Hiljaisuus, held in Kaukonen is one of Mummola’s important collaboration partners.
– In this village community, it’s easy to do things without getting tangled up in red tape, Paula says.
Little Olavi is the seventh generation at the Ojanperä farmstead. Paula and Kimmo grew up in the countryside, and they find it important that their son gets to live his childhood close to nature. Kaukonen has become a home where they wake up in Grandma’s attic and walk across the yard to the ‘office’, the old reindeer herders’ house. Kimmo spends his morning coding, while Paula keeps in touch with Mummola’s guests across the globe, or the day may be spent logging instead. This is exactly the kind of freedom Paula and Kimmo yearned for.