Will you bake bread that nurtures people, soil, and sea?

We are looking for bread recipes that improve the future of the soil

The Maaleipä Challenge invites all home bakers, bakeries, restaurants, schools, and communities in Finland to create bread recipes that combine the well-being of land, water and people’s guts. The best recipes will be awarded at the Maaleipä ceremony at Kellohalli in Helsinki on 21 September 2024.

We will award five best breads and their bakers.
We have updated the prizes: check out the prizes!


The health of the soil and the health of us humans are one. Monoculture farming impoverishes the ground and spoils our waters, and nutritionally poor food harms our digestive systems. Yet, we can also be a source for change!


By making bread out of nutritionally rich ingredients that have been grown in a way that nurtures both people and land. Stick your hands in the dough, let your creativity rise, and submit your Maaleipä recipe to the contest by 1 September 2024!

Maa = Finnish for soil, dirt, earth, surface of Earth, ground, country, land

Leipä = Finnish for bread

Here’s how to make a Maaleipä:

Experiment with a variety of ingredients

Bake with diverse and nutritious ingredients: ancient cereal varieties, nutrient-rich plants, seeds, nuts, and wild herbs. You can find a list of suggestions below, but do use your own creativity, too!

Choose ingredients that care for the soil

Favour ecologically and locally grown ingredients that have been produced by farming methods that nurture the soil, such as regenerative farming. Find out what’s on offer in your immediate surroundings and what ingredients could grow there in the future.

Create a diverse bread culture

Give a fresh look to old classics, draw inspiration from different regions or invent something completely new! We hope to receive a large variety of different kinds and shapes of bread, bringing out the diversity of the bread cultures – and bread bakers – found in Finland.

What ingredients do we recommend for your Maaleipä bread?

The health of the land as well as our own bodies are based on the biodiversity of forests, fields, and residential gardens. Regional cereal varieties are more resistant to climatic changes, legumes fix nitrogen to the soil, and perennial plants’ roots grow deeper, bringing nutrients into the ground. By trying out such cereals and legumes in your baking that have been foraged or produced with soil-friendly farming methods, you can contribute to the health of the soil and, at the same time, prepare more nutritious food.

Here’s a list of some ingredients for your Maaleipä. Find out which of these are available at your local grocery store, small farm or mill, and what you can find in your own garden or nearby forest. What kinds of bread are made possible by your immediate surroundings?

Grains: Rye (ancient varieties like Sangaste), ancient wheats (such as einkorn, durum, emmer, Olympia autumn wheat), spelt, oats (such as naked oats), barley (such as hulless barley), and many more
Legumes: Lentils, beans, fava beans, sweet lupin, peas (such as snow peas, sugar snap peas, or other garden peas), and others
Roots and tubers: Potatoes, carrots, beets and parsnips
Nuts: Hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, chestnuts, acorns and others
Seeds: Buckwheat seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, cumin seeds, flax seeds, pine nuts, and others
Wild plants and herbs: Clover, chickweed, nettles, dandelion, ground elder, and others
Berries: Lingonberries, blueberries, cranberries, cloudberries, rowanberries, sea buckthorn, currants, and others
Edible Mushrooms: chanterelles, hedgehog mushrooms, milk caps and others
Other ingredients can include: Honey, bark, birch sap, lichens, mosses, or tree leaves

Maaleipä creates a new kind of bread culture

Participate! Submit your Maaleipä recipe to the contest now

Submit your bread recipe by recreating an old one or trying something new. The challenge is open for participation until 1 September, 23:59 p.m.

Fill out the registration form and tell the story of your bread and how it promotes the health of the soil and the gut. Include 1–2 photos of your bread or a video.

The best breads will be shortlisted and then baked to be tasted and awarded at the Maaleipä Challenge ceremony on 21 September 2024 at Teurastamo Kellohalli in Helsinki.

If you have questions or you want to give us feedback, please contact us: maaleipa@ihmehelsinki.fi

The objective of Maaleipä Challenge is to make “maaleipä” – bread for the soil – as a Finnish word known and used to describe bread that nurtures the soil, sea and people. When you bake bread out of ingredients that take care of the soil and biodiversity, you can use the word “maaleipä” and the sentence below to describe it:

“This bread is maaleipä. I have selected ingredients that take care of the soil, sea and human beings. Learn more: www.maaleipa.fi”

If your bread is selected as one of the finalists or winners of the challenge, you can use the following sentences:

“This bread has been selected as one of the finalists in Maaleipä Challenge: www.maaleipa.fi”
“This bread has won the Maaleipä Challenge in 2024: www.maaleipa.fi”

Raise awareness of Maaleipä and have a debate by using the hashtags #maaleipä #MaaleipäChallenge #IHME2024

Check out the prizes
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Learn more!

A group of researchers and experts have been involved in planning the Maaleipä Challenge. In the following videos, they describe from their perspectives how the health of soil, water, climate, and gut are inseparable.

Postdoctoral researcher Kari Koppelmäki from the Ruralia Institute recounts how the cultivation of animal feed affects the nutrient cycles of soils, water systems, and the Baltic Sea, and how perennial plants and crop rotation could improve agriculture and the environment.
Producer member Ruby van der Wekken of the Oma Maa -food cooperative and farmer Jukka Lassila of the Lassila family farm describe the importance of changing the Finnish food system, and what biodiversity in agriculture entails.
Project leader Joshua Finch from the Novia University of Applied Sciences describes how intensive farming affects the soil and crops, and how both farmers and consumers as well as the soil could benefit from regenerative farming and the diversification of agriculture.
Research Professor Minna Kaljonen from the Finnish Environment Institute describes the close connection between agricultural farming and the Baltic Sea, and how alternative farming methods can help in reducing nutrient overload.
Bread culture entrepreneur Eliisa Kuusela introduces us to the benefits of sourdough baking and the microbial connection between the soil and our gut.

We look forward to a large variety of Maaleipä of different shapes and tastes

Join us in making Maaleipä – bread for the soil!

Maaleipä is a challenge to create bread from ingredients that nurture the soil and are rich in nutrients—improving the health of humans, the land, the sea, and the many creatures inhabiting them.

Change starts with Maaleipä! Intensive cultivation of industrial wheat and other grains impoverishes the soil and pollutes water bodies. At the same time, monoculture farming directs land use towards growing feed for animals instead of producing food for human consumption, affecting our diet.

Maaleipä breads champion locality, diversity, and nourishment.


Maaleipä promotes breads that contain locally grown or foraged ingredients. How do these come together in your recipe?

Find out what products farmers and mills produce in your area. Are there farms near you that practice organic farming, regenerative agriculture, or agroforestry? Are there cooperatives or local food networks in your neighbourhood collaborating with these food producers? These methods help maintain healthy soil through crop rotation and the use of cover crops to naturally sequester nutrients in the soil, instead of using chemical fertilisers.

Maaleipä breads vary across Finland because soil and weather conditions vary. Rye grows well in the north and wheat in the south. How could your region’s soil and weather conditions be reflected in your bread, through grain and other ingredients? But don’t stop there: What plants and ingredients will begin to grow within Finland’s shifting climate and weather?


Maaleipä breads can contain as many ingredients as you can imagine. We recommend using grains that are at risk of disappearing as well as ancient and heirloom grain varieties that are more resilient than industrialised varieties as the climate changes.

This challenge encourages breads that also feature a variety of foods found in forests and along coastlines or self-grown plants and root vegetables. Have you tried using perennial crops, vegetables, and seeds in bread, such as caraway, red clover, and alfalfa, or ramsons, chives, and hops? The roots of perennial plants go deeper and remain in the soil longer, keeping the soil healthy and preventing nutrient runoff into water bodies. If you forage ingredients, remember to do so responsibly.

Maaleipä breads come in many shapes and flavours. What techniques do you use to bake your own bread, and what cultures, regions, traditions, and origins of ingredients does your bread reflect? Or are you creating something entirely new?


Maaleipä breads use nutrient-rich ingredients. Have you tried baking with sourdough, which provides the bread with a rich microbiome? If you haven’t yet, you can start by using yeast.

Maaleipä breads rely on natural ingredients and do not include artificial preservatives, additives, or flavour enhancers. Environmental impacts from start to finish and minimisation of waste generated during baking will be considered.

Prizes and Jury

Five of the best breads will be awarded in the Maaleipä Challenge! The breads will be judged on their ingredient diversity, taste, shape, and how they contribute to the soil biota and human gut.

The best bread and baker will be awarded with 1000 €.

The second and third best breads and bakers will be awarded with professional grain mills. Alternatively, instead of a grain mill, you can choose a gift voucher of the same value to a food co-operative of your choice.

Additionally, we will give out two baskets of ingredients suitable for making Maaleipä.

Jury members

Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe, Cooking Sections

Galina Kallio, Researcher of sustainable food economies and an amateur gastronome

Eliisa Kuusela, Bread culture entrepreneur, Leipäpaja

Ruby Van Der Wekken, Producer Member, Oma maa food cooperative

Paula Toppila, Executive director and curator, IHME Helsinki, the chair of jury

Maaleipä Challenge Award Ceremony 21 September 2024

The Maaleipä Challenge culminates in a celebratory event on Saturday 21 September 2024, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Teurastamo Kellohalli in Helsinki. Mark the date in your calendar to come and taste breads that will improve the future of people, soil and sea! The gathering brings together the bread recipes for the soil selected from the open call for participants.

In addition to bread tastings, expect a market featuring soil-nourishing products, a food security workshop, bread chants, music and other treats inspired by Maaleipä – bread for the soil. The event is open to all and free of charge.

The Maaleipä Challenge is IHME Helsinki Commission 2024 carried out by the London-based artist duo Cooking Sections. Food security in the age of environmental crisis can also be explored before the Awards Ceremony at the Climate Security Festival, organised in cooperation with the Safer Climate network on 19–20 September 2024.


The Maaleipä Challenge is a nationwide challenge contest and work of art realised by the London-based artist duo Cooking Sections and the contemporary art commissioning agency IHME Helsinki.

The Maaleipä Challenge, Cooking Sections’ IHME Helsinki Commission 2024, promotes the collective well-being of soil, waters, and people by launching a nationwide challenge open to all. The challenge is aimed at all bakers, home cooks, bakeries, schools, grassroots’ collectives, and restaurants, and its objective is to find bread recipes that would enhance the health of the land as well as our own health, now and in the future.

Cereal cultivation has a long history in Finland. The growing demand for forage crops has, however, reduced the arable land area available for the production of the key components of humans’ plant-based diets, and, at the same time, intensified the monoculture farming of oats, barley, wheat, and rye. Consequently, the agrochemicals that leach into the ground and eventually flow all the way into the Baltic Sea deplete the soils and cause the eutrophication of water systems. By developing new kinds of Maaleipä bread recipes we can counter this development. Join us in advancing the change!

Any questions? Contact: maaleipa@ihmehelsinki.fi


Who is organizing the Challenge?

Cooking Sections is a London-based artistic practice that examines the systems that organise the world through food. Their CLIMAVORE project asks how to eat as humans change climates. As new human-made “seasons” blur the lines between spring, summer, autumn and winter, and annual monsoons; periods of polluted seas, soil exhaustion or fertiliser runoff are instead increasingly shaping our foodscapes. Addressing the intensive, extractive practices that lead to them, CLIMAVORE imagines new platforms that can nourish new horizons.

IHME Helsinki is a contemporary art commissioning agency that combines art, science, and climate work. We produce annually a public artwork created by an international artist or artist group, in cooperation with Finnish and foreign partners. In addition to our annual commission, we organise four to five events each year. Through our commissions and events we contribute to the cultural change that the environmental crisis demands. Our work is possible with the support from Saastamoinen Foundation, Kone Foundation and Abakanowicz Art and Culture Charitable Foundation in 2023-25.