Tita’s paradise is in the peaceful countryside by the Haapajoki River – “There is everything a person can wish for here”

Gardener Tita’s paradise is located in the village of Haapajoki-Arkkukari, less than a 15-minute drive from the city centre. It is a place where everyday troubles are left behind and where the biggest ‘distraction’ is the occasional crow of the neighbour’s rooster.

Raahe is quite diverse in its housing options. In addition to the compact city centre, the maritime residential areas, the idyllic Old Raahe and the cosy urban areas, Raahe offers charming, communal and nature-friendly villages, located a short drive from the services of the city.

When you drive about ten kilometres south of the city centre, you will come to the village of Haapajoki-Arkkukari. There you will find the paradise of Tita, who works as the city gardener.

Tita says she was picked up and brought to Raahe 25 years ago.

“I first fell for this man and then for this place. I used to be a little restless: I had moved about thirty times before I came here. Since coming here, there has been no need to think about moving anymore!”

Tita, who has grown her roots deep into the river bank, says with a glint in her eye that her final destination – Salonkartano service centre – can also be found in the same village.

Tita in front of her red cottage in her home garden.

A passion for gardening – Raahe rose garden seedbed in Haapajoki

Built in the 19th century, this culturally valuable courtyard by the Haapajoki River is the best place in the world for Tita. There are four hectares of land here for her to carry out her passion, which is gardening. The gardener’s yard is full of colours, fragrances and visuality. Throughout the growing season, the view constantly offers a new glow.

Gardening is a passion for Tita, which she also carries out professionally as the city gardener of Raahe. At home along the Haapajoki River, there is a kind of testbed, from which the gardener draws inspiration for the planning of the green areas of the city, and the fruits of which the city residents and tourists can enjoy.

“The seedbed of the rose garden is here. The English oak also grows here, which will be seen as a street tree in Raahe in the future.”

Many exotic varieties that are not normally found in these latitudes grow in Tita’s garden. There are a few hundred varieties of plants in the garden: about three hundred varieties of woody plants and a hundred varieties of roses. There is also a sense of self-sufficiency: the crops are grown in the available land and preserved in the cellar.

A communal and safe village community near the city – “An incredibly good place to raise children”

Living in peace in the countryside surrounded by pristine nature, Tita feels privileged.

Tita describes Haapajoki-Arkkukari as a very communal village, where good old neighbourly help is still alive today. People take care of each other and help each other but do not stalk each other. Here we live and let live.

When you live here, you get all the best bits. Everything good is within reach.

There are many families with children in the village. The route to the local school in Haapajoki is good and safe. For example, children do not need to cross the busy national road 8. The Haapajoki school offers education for pupils in grades 1–6, and a preschool class is also available. After the 6th grade, it is easy to move on to the new secondary school in Saloinen, which was completed in 2020.

“This is a quiet, stress-free and safe village close to nature, where it’s incredibly good to raise children. The distances are short, so it’s easy to go to the hustle and bustle and then come back.”

Tita surrounded by roses in her home garden.

Plots and detached houses are available – “Here you can see the child-friendliness of Raahe”

For people considering moving to the countryside, Tita hints that there are both plots and detached houses for sale in the Haapajoki-Arkkukari area.

The recreational opportunities in the rural village are quite diverse: there is ice, ski trails, an ice hockey rink and the village association’s own playground. Hunting and berry picking land and hiking and fat biking trails are right next door – not to mention the opportunities for keeping pets or gardening.

The village association of Haapajoki-Arkkukari is very active, and the village has a good community spirit. The latest indication of this is the construction of a disc golf course in the village. The City of Raahe contributed to clearing work for the course. Uniform letterbox racks and beautiful red ochre bus shelters are one of the trademarks of the cosy area.

Here you can truly see the child-friendliness of Raahe.

In addition to its own school, the Arkkukari region also has its own library, a village kiln, the Saloinen Museum, an allotment garden and the Salonkartano service centre. A grill café on the shore of Lake Järvelänjärvi is open during the high season, and there are other active business operations as well. With the completion of the high-speed fibre optic network, remote work is possible in the peaceful countryside.

“People here have everything that they want. This is a lovely place to live throughout the year. You don’t have to go to Lapland to get the stars and the Northern Lights. Fragrances, bird song, rain, storms and different seasons – here you sense them all as authentic and pure.”

Tita has characterised Raahe as a city of opportunities. She sees it as a small locality where, in a fascinating way, community spirit is visible not only in the villages. People help each other and make it a safe place to be. There is nothing to be afraid of, and the setting is safe in every way.

Tita on the wooden bridge over the Haapajoki River.

Space to think and breathe – it's easy to reset your thoughts on the seashore

Tita describes the Haapajoki River flowing across the garden as a river of life. Otters dive, fish are abundant, and the river also provides water for irrigation. There is a wooden bridge over the Haapajoki river, where Tita comes with a cup of coffee in the mornings to greet the river and see what kind of mood it is in that day.

For Tita, the place to reset her thoughts can be found about a kilometre away from home, by the sea. She goes wandering in the woods in the summer and on the ice in the winter. There is space to think and breathe.

The tranquillity of the August Thursday afternoon along the Haapajoki River seems to be almost unbreakable. Buzzing insects and different varieties of butterflies enjoy the late summer warmth in different plants. The silence is broken for a moment by the neighbour’s rooster.

“This is the biggest ‘distraction’ around,” Tita says with a laugh and waits to see whether her own rooster Nox can resist the temptation to crow back.

This time, he can.

Text and photos: Tarmo Somero, 2021.