We continued our journey to look at the sustainable community within the Go Nature Market and GoNatureTrip network. Our stay at Explore Småland was shorter because our holiday was coming to an end. Nevertheless, we still had a lovely talk with Chatrine.
Chatrine and Johan, the owners, are building a eco homestead in Grimmagärde in a small farming community called Broakulla, in the county of Kalmar in Småland. I was introduced to Chatrine by Iwona as a part of the Sustainable Cross-border Destinations project supported by the Swedish Institute. She also helped me on my trip to visit Chatrine.
Through their company Explore Småland they will develop food activities based on the produce from the own gardens, locally grown food from local farmers, and picks out seasonal produce. Chatrine and Johan are creating their own kitchen garden and are exploring picks edible ingredients in the nature surrounding the homestead.
She cooks season food, preferable outdoors and on their biochar grill. Because of the Swedish climate they have short growing seasons which makes it a challenge to cook seasonal dishes from local food. But Chatrine says that it is part of the fun to give the guests local delicacies during winter and springtime. Our homestead consist of different spaces where the guest can enjoy outdoor cooking and eat in a beautiful setting.
Problem with Edible Country
Chatrine thinks that the idea of Edible Country is in line with what she is trying to achieve but it has to be done with insight and knowledge. She believes that Allemansrätten is a cultural heritage gem that should be carefully used for tourism. “Someone or the environment has to pay the price of hundreds of tourists rushing into our forests” Chatrine said.
Chatrine added. “Becoming an Edible Country shouldn’t sacrifice sustainability. We think that it is better to enjoy our beautiful countryside and nature in small groups. That is why we have set a limit on how many guests we welcome at a time. Edible Country could actually be contra productive to what we aim to achieve.”
Chatrine showed that is possible to book the Edible country experience online and pointed out: “It is great that the visitor can book premium nature experiences online. To have everything one click away makes it easy for the visitor. I am a bit disappointed as we had hoped for a Premium price tag showing the visitors that Swedish nature is highly valued.”
Chatrine want not only to have sustainable living, but also build a sustainable community as well. Her farm is also involved with many sustainable projects. The leading compass is the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and to work with others to achieve these goals. “I am working close to the local producers in our village and I am a keen member of GoNatureTrip.” Chatrine said.
They are trying to connect local businesses and people to a network for welcoming tourists to the area and to become a sustainable community.
As a part of building sustainable community, Chatrine also hosts different events about sustainable creations. Shortly after we left, she hosted a course about plant/eco printing. The guests had the opportunity to plant print fabrics with scrap metal.
Explore Småland are working close to Ödevata Countryside Hotel to develop biochar as part of the sustainable living concept they are offering their guests.
Biochar Eco Cooking
Chatrine is a master with food and has incorporated her passion for cooking as part of part of sustainable living.
She is experimenting with cooking whilst making biochar. Biochar outdoor cooking is high on the agenda. At Hemma på Hult they are planning to offer this alternative to their future guests. It is an environmentally friendly and healthy barbecue. It does less pollution and there’s no need for fire starters like lighter fluid that potentially could contaminate the food. The biochar is also a good solution to the CO2 problem. It has the ability to store CO2 for many years when using it in gardening. It is also a good fertilizer if you load it with manure. The guests can leave the farm with their own bucket of biochar which they can use in their own garden.
They are striving for sustainable living and circular economy. No waste before and after cooking is also influencing the dishes created in Chatrine´s innovative and daring test kitchen. She never unnecessarily waste ingredients, instead she finds ways to use what is normally discarded parts. She often shares her findings with her sustainable community, so others could reduce their waste as well. Lately, she has been experimenting with incorporating biochar in her food. This was something that took us by surprise. Apparently, biochar contains carbon which is the building block to most cells in our body.
Nothing is for free
We learned that the Edible Country can truly be an attractive way of building up a sustainable community. By using local ingredients, experimenting with environmentally friendly outdoor cooking and grills and innovating new dishes.
We also learned that the sustainable initiatives are those combining innovations in local communities and products that create value for both the locals and the visitors. As Chatrine puts it best “Nothing is free, but it is worth every krona to experience our version of the Edible Country”