Hästa gård would be a nice farm no matter where it would have been situated. But what makes it so special that it’s a very urban farm. It’s even been called one of the worlds largest city farms, situated on a field between the Stockholm suburbs of Husby and Akalla. On 185 hectares you can find cows, pigs, hens and sheep as well as potatoes, tomatoes, butter beans and wheat.
Recently I went there for a coffee in their nice little garden café. It’s a very special feeling to get off the metro in Tensta, walk through the centre, under the highway and after a few minutes in a beautiful landscape you are on a farm!
And not just any farm. When Oloph Fritzén and Jenny Olofsson, two young farmers from the South of Sweden, took over Hästa gård they decided to make it organic.
“Our goal with this farm is to let you eat food which hasn#t been treated with pesticides and doesn’t have unnecessary additives. We make sure the animals are scratched on the back, have plenty of space and eat organic food. Respect!” they write at the farm’s website (in Swedish)
There is quite a lot of permaculture thinking at Hästa gård. One of the ideas behind permaculture (which I personally must say I sympathize a lot with) is to let nature work for you. One example of that are the “eggmobiles” that Jenny and Oloph have made for the hens and that could be moved around the farm. In this way the hens can for example be placed in the cow’s field to eat larvae that would otherwise become flies and harm the cows – while feeding themselves at the same time (see the picture below). The cows, in their turn, keep the landscape open for the 60 000 persons living around the farm.
And Hästa gård certainly seems to have a good interaction with the surrounding housing areas. From supermarkets and restaurants nearby the pigs get leftovers that they happily eat. The farm also gets help from its neighbours.
- The inhabitants of the suburbs around us come from all parts of the world, and many of them are born and raised in the countryside. So we have people coming here to help us in our work. I’m delighted when I get to sleep a little later in the morning once in a while, says Oloph Fritzén in an interview with the Swedish tv.
It’s definitely that time of the year when there’s usually some sort of race going on every weekend. That time between late Summer and early Autumn when temperatures are cool and mild enough not to give you heat stroke while running.
And last week was the start of a popular race(actually, the world’s largest cross country race), Lidingöloppet, that spans a couple days with various categories including a children’s race. The cross-country race takes runners through one of Stockholm’s most beautiful (and expensive) islands – Lidingö.
Gift-time for cyclists at Slussen in central Stockholm. The text on the yellow waistcoat says "Thankyou for cycling!" Photo: Sara Jeswani.
Often when it comes to the question of how to make people act in a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way, the ideas that come up are rather on the “stick” than the “carrot” side. Raise taxes on petrol, make it more expensive to emit CO2, block cars from certain areas and so on.
I wouldn’t say those are bad ideas. But once in a while it’s good with an encouraging pat on the back for those who actually make an effort. That’s why I’m almost childishly happy every year when the city of Stockholm and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation hand out gifts to those cycle to work, school or wherever they happen to be heading.
Being handed a plastic bag this morning, containing a cycle map, bike lights and a reflective ribbon to make my pedalling safer in the Swedish autumn darkness by someone who says “Thankyou for cycling!” maybe isn’t enough to make convinced car drivers change their habits, but it sure feels good that somene recognizes what I do.
And I’m not alone on the cycle tracks. There are about 150.000 cycle journeys made in Stockholm every day. Maybe next years present will have to be broader cycle tracks..?
One of my happy fellow bikers on the street this morning was Lennart, a retired journalist taking the bike to babysit. Sounds like a good day to me. Photo: Sara Jeswani.
Whilst in Milan for Fashion Week, I went to a few shows, but the highlight for me has actually been the re-sees. The craftsmanship and actual handiwork in a lot of the pieces is simply not evident from the runway or the runway pictures. Seeing and touching the clothes in person, I could only marvel at the quality of materials and finishing here in Italy. And then I wondered about the dry cleaning bills that these clothes must accrue, which, rather unwittingly, is a trait that most Swedes apparently share.
Let me explain. In my last post, I spoke about the pragmatic nature of Swedes when it comes to fashion, mainly to do with comfort and style. But it also extends to the care of clothes – namely, if it can’t be machine-washed, Swedes ain’t gonna buy it. Which I’ve been told leads an overwhelming number of Swedish labels (high street to designer) to use washing machine-friendly materials when maybe they want to use, say silk for example, instead. And you can almost forget about any heavy beadwork.
But this (begrudgingly?) accepted wisdom on behalf of both consumers and designers could also stem from the fact that dry cleaning is outrageously expensive here. I took a single “fancy” (read: silk georgette by a New York designer) dress to my local dry cleaners in Stockholm and it cost me near 300 kronor. The cost to dry-clean a similar “fancy” dress in New York City? Nine bucks, or roughly 61 kronor, according to friends there right now. I saw a sign here in a Milanese shop advertising 5kg of dry cleaning for 14 euros, or roughly 129 kronor. Five kilograms!
Maybe the exorbitant dry-cleaning prices in Sweden are actually a subconscious act of protectionism? Forget about those extravagant Italian/French/New York/London labels! Buy locally instead! We’re machine-washable! Hurrah! The irony, of course, is that once again, Swedish pragmatism is winning over the world. I’ve seen people actually clap their hands in delight when they discover the coveted item of clothing from the latest Swedish label can be thrown into the wash. No joke, it’s the little victories like these that are winning more and more people over to Swedish fashion.
But selfishly, would it really hurt to try to bring down those dry-cleaning prices just a little bit? Pretty please?