30 • 11 • 2020

Vijciems Cone Drying Facility has been Drying Cones Already for 125 Years

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JSC “Latvia’s State Forests” (LVM) forest tree seed plantations are now busy with harvesting – cone harvesting. This year, it is planned to harvest about 900 hectolitres of pine cones and about 190 hectolitres of spruce cones. After harvesting, cones end up in one of the three LVM Sēklas un stādi cone drying facilities either in Renda, Kalsnava or Vijciems.

Cone harvesting starts in the second half of autumn, when seeds are ripe and cones have already naturally lost some of their moisture. The collection of cones will continue in the winter months until the crop is harvested in full.

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Vijciems Cone Drying Facility has been Included in the List of State Protected Cultural Monuments

This year is special for Vijciems Cone Drying Facility of Latvia’s state forests. “It is the only cone drying facility of this type in the world that has survived until today. There is no other place like this. Starting with the equipment, with all the cone rollers, the oven, the lifting wheel – most of them are original. What has been changed here – the roof had to be repaired, doors are new. But in general, 90 and more percent of all the facilities and things here have a history of 125 years.

The building was constructed back in 1895 by German barons. Large forest fires raged in Vidzeme. There was a need to reforest, and seeds were needed to carry out reforestation works. Until then, people tried to dry cones and get seeds at home. Cones were dried on stoves, also in grain dryers, threshing barns. But it did not provide a sufficient amount and was not effective either,” says Ivars Palejs, Manager of Vijciems Cone Drying Facility.

Thanks to the efforts of many generations of foresters, the historic drying facility has survived very well and still performs its functions today. Although the drying facility serves more as a tourist attraction and a place to acquire information and knowledge, it also performs its economic functions.

This year, Vijciems Cone Drying Facility was included in the List of State Protected Cultural Monuments as an industrial monument of national significance. “The new status is undoubtedly an honour for the drying facility, but it imposes even higher obligations for future management in order to preserve its uniqueness and historical values,” tells Guntis Grandāns, Director of LVM Sēklas un stādi.

In 2002, Vijciems Cone Drying Facility was included in the List of European Cultural Heritage, but in 2008 it acquired the status of an unusual European cultural heritage, three years ago – industrial heritage for tourism. Since 2019, the cone drying facility has been included in the List of State Protected Cultural Monuments.