Staffan Börjesson weeding at Tillsammansodlingen. In the background Christian Gustavsson. Photo: Sara Jeswani.
If you’re looking for the seeds of a more local food future, Tillsammansodlingen just south of Gothenburg [map] is a good place to start.
“Tillsammansodlingen” (meaning something like “the together plantation”) came out of the Transition group in Gothenburg. When they started in 2009 many of the group members saw food-growing as a natural starting point in the work to make their local community less dependant on fossil fuels.
When they heard of an elderly organic farmer wanting someone to take over the land he had rented, the idea started taking shape and about one year ago the first seeds made their way into the soil.
Now Tillsammansodlingen consists of a core group of 5 to 6 persons, and around 20 more who come in and work occasionally. As a member in the association you pay 500 Swedish kronor (about 52 Euro) per year and then you get to pick the vegetables you need for household requirements every time you participate in the cultivation work.
The surplus harvest is sold at a market stand by the plantation and by an organic food shop in Gothenburg.
- Personally it’s both about the environment and about my love for food. It’s simply fantastic to be able to harvest your own spinage and eat as much salad as you want, says Christian Gustavsson.
He sees this as a way of putting less of his time on paid work.
- I think it gives new ways of thinking about economics and food, and we need that.
Looking out at the European highway just a bit further away, he says:
- Right now a lot of the vegetables feeding Gothenburg comes in on this road, with trucks from the South of Europe. And this strip of land along the highway used to be what provided a big part of the city with food in earlier years. Now there are practically no plantations left, but the soil is really fertile so there’s a good potential.
Photo: Sara Jeswani
- Environmental organisation Greenpeace protests outside the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company SKB. Photo: Greenpeace/Christian Åslund.
This last week the big subject of conversation in Sweden is (as I suppose in most parts of the world) the terrible events in Japan. That natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis can lead to man-involved disasters like nuclear meltdowns is something we all know, but normally prefer not to think too much about. When it finally happens, it reminds us about the risks we actually take.
In Sweden the developments in Japan have led to a fervent debate about nuclear energy in tv news shows, on the Internet and in newspapers. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority has reinforced its preparedness and answers all kinds of questions about nuclear energy on their web page.
In the debate, some point out that what has happened in Japan couldn’t happen here since Sweden geological conditions are quite different. Others argue that the problem is rather the nuclear energy’s lack of resilience against unexpected events. Although we might not have any earthquakes here, other things can happen, an what actually caused the meltdown in the Japanese reactors wasn’t the earthquake itself, or even the tsunami, but a power failure.
Forsmark, one of Sweden's nuclear power plants. Photo: Vattenfall.
Nuclear energy has been a debated issue in Sweden for a long time now. In 1980 we had a referendum about nuclear energy, that ended in a decision to phase it out. But last year this was changed. Now new reactors can be built in Sweden as long as the total amount don’t exceed 10 reactors.
Another issue of debate when it comes to nuclear power is the issue of terminal storage of the used nuclear fuel. Yesterday the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company SKB, which is in charge of taking care of the radioactive residues, handed in an application for making a final repository for spent fuel in Forsmark in the East of Sweden [map] where it should be stored for 100 000 years. At the same time SKB’s office was targeted by an action from Greenpeace, claiming that there are still a lot of uncertainties of for example how the copper containers will stand the test of time. A corrosion expert from the Royal Institute of Technology KTH has earlier stated that there are risks of these capsules collapsing within 1000 years.
One of the ideas of what a sustainable campus could look like. Image: KIT-arkitektur and Hanna Erixon
Sweden might be the first country in the world with a university campus built according to resilience principles. When Stockholm university realised that it will need more space for their activities, they asked researchers from Stockholm Environment Institute and the Royal Institute of Technology to lay their heads together with a group of architects to create a vision of a campus that can serve as a model for sustainable urban development.
In a world where about five billion people are believed to be city dwellers by 2030, city planners face enormous challenges. Somehow they must try to balance the urban development and people’s wellbeing with the stress that a city puts on ecosystem services such as water, storm protection, flood mitigation and biodiversity.
– We need new models and perspectives in order to face these challenges, where the cities interact better with crucial ecosystems, says Stephan Barth, who is researcher at Stockholm Environment Institute.
He also says that this area, which is called Albano, can become an important piece in a social-ecological system, where animals and ecosystems have the space and accessibility equal to that of humans.
I’d be most eager to visit this campus right away. But a quick phone call to one of the architects involved in the work reveals that actual building plans are still about five or ten years away. The visionary images give a nice idea, though, of mixing different activities (I love the idea of community gardens in the middle of everything) and types of nature. More images can be seen at KIT-architecture’s web page.