We visited the farmers Carl-Erik and Elin Østlund and chef Chris Onions who have only very recently moved to Skjølberg Søndre farm just outside of Svorkmo in Sør-Trøndelag county. Carl-Erik, Elin and Chris had been successfully managing the farm Spiragården in Sweden (http://www.spiragarden.se) until June of this year. Now a new opportunity awaited them as Carl-Erik could take over Skjølberg Søndre of his grandfather Erik Skjølberg. Erik Skjølberg who is still living on the farm has not only played an important part in the farm and region’s history but holds a great knowledge and understanding which shall help carry the farm into the future.
The farm comprises 140 hectares of forest and 30 hectares of grassland. What an amazing treasure of fresh water, an abundance of forest including wild plants and herbs, mushrooms, wildlife, and diverse grasslands lie to their feet. And Carl-Erik, Elin and Chris will take care of it wisely and have great plans.
As a basis the three plan to keep 80 mother sheep with lambs for meat production. All fodder they will produce themselves. Pigs and chicken will range freely on a piece of land with many trees very close to house and stables.
Carl-Erik, Elin and Chris initiative is about providing fresh, natural and local food to the local community and as well to provide the knowledge of recognizing, growing, collecting, harvesting and preparing wild and domesticated foods to everyone!
As gardeners Carl-Erik, Elin and Chris will bring to flower the educational kitchen-garden where kindergarten and school children can play freely in nature and rediscover their roots. This garden will provide the natural local vegetables and herbs nourishing everyone who is part of the daily farm life. Also a permaculture garden will be built to provide a great variety of berries, fruits, bulbs and herbs.
As cooks, social workers and foragers Carl-Erik, Elin and Chris will go with the children, the parents and everyone interested into the forests to roam, to learn, to pick, collect and harvest wild herbs, berries and mushrooms, to see birds, smaller and larger animals. And of course there will be a lot of delicious cooking going on!
As hunters and fishermen, cooks and guardians of the forest Carl-Erik, Elin and Chris will be able to provide the community with pure moose, deer and reindeer meats, and a variety of fish.
In an evening of food philosophy Carl-Erik said something remarkable which is common-sense but at the same time mostly not perceived: almost none of the foods that we buy nowadays in the supermarkets have its origin in the natural abundance which surrounds us directly and on a day to day basis:
What nature provides to us in a certain region is made to feed people and provide them with the nutrients and minerals that a healthy human needs in that same region. Humans are part of nature and live with the cycles of nature; therefore it is only logical and essential to eat what nature provides at a certain moment of the year. Food grown in other regions and parts of the world nature provides for the people living there. By transporting foods from one region to the other, people consuming that food might lack the nutrients one would ingest naturally by eating local produce and varieties. Now this may sound a bit like food-racism, if that exists, but think about it! Why would you need to eat mango ice cream if the sweetest raspberries are growing only a foot-step away and you could eat over-delicious raspberry ice cream? Not to say that food imports should be forbidden but if the choice for regional flavour-rich foods was available – which is mostly not the case – people would less often choose imported articles.
And another theory that we heard of for the first time: Because of the long light in summertime at higher latitude, the vegetables and fruits will become richer in flavour and vitamins! When the first wild strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries and mulberries are ripe they will burst from vitamins and contain e.g. more vitamin C than an imported orange or lemon! Following the theory all fruit and vegetables grown in the north contain more vitamins than grown at more southern latitudes.
Thank you Carl-Erik, Elin and Chris for inspiring us and others!
If you get the chance to meet these three amazing people, take it! We will keep you posted when their website goes online, so you can follow them!