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Alkula and the Forest Foreman Park

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The Alkula yard beyond the gate. Photo Hanna Kalliomaa 2009.

The Alkula property is located at the corner of Kauppiaankatu and Kråklundinkatu streets, south of the Vanha Vaasa school. The Forest Foreman Park is directly found east of Alkula with the Ristinummenraitti street dividing the two areas. The Alkula property yard is a garden-like area with fenced off areas for domestic animals, a barbeque hut and kitchen garden. In the umbrage of the surrounding forest, the Forest Foreman yard and its wildly overgrown, diverse garden can be found. There is an actively used playground in the Forest Foreman yard.

The Alkula property was used by Abraham Falander for tobacco cultivation from 1773 to the beginning of the 19th century. It was bought in 1847 by Alexander Levon, who named the area Alkula. Levon founded a paint and chemical plant and later on built a steam mill. He was very interested in gardening and remnants of cinnamon roses, lilacs and Siberian pea-shrubs from his time still are evident today. Alkula was originally situated outside the city walls, which ensured that it was unaffected by the fire of 1852. After the fire, Levon moved his plant to be reestablished in the new Vaasa. The main building, from the18th century, and its corresponding surroundings are now managed by the Vaasa chapter of the 4-H Club.

An eastern section of the property was relinquished to Forest Foreman Alfred Nyqvist in 1910, who built a residential building and ancillary buildings. Later on in 1916, this became the official residence of the Forest Foreman. Subsequent forest foremen shaped the landscape features of the surroundings with plantations and trees grown for city use. The Forest Foreman’s building burned down at the beginning of the 21st century, yet the ancillary building and garden still exist. Many old trees, atypical of the pine dominated forests, can be still found in the surroundings.

The Alkula environment has a rich cultural history composed of a fusion of different periodic eras, from the 18th century through to the present day. There is plenty to be seen and discovered, for those with interest in both cultural vegetation and architectural history. The 4-H Club has done an indispensable job, taking care of the area and producing a series of signs documenting this unique history, placed throughout the area. Those with an interest in botany may wish to visit the area between June and August, as flowers in full bloom. The most diverse plant life of the Forest Foreman yard can be found next to the playground, where the foreman’s garden used to be located. It is recommended to visit the yard in spring, when the fumewort and oxlip are blossoming, or during summer when trees display full foliage. Most remarkable are the old conifer and larch trees. A pamphlet on the tree- and shrub species trail in Alkula (available in Finnish only, title ‘Alkulan puulajipolku’) can be found in the local library, despite being published in 1988, it is still a valuable and useful guidebook. With this in mind, some species listed within the publication have since disappeared, however the majority of species can still be found at present.

Tall conifer trees in the Forest Foreman Park. Photo Hanna Kalliomaa 2009.