Friday, 18 September 2009

Permaculture at Luregarden, southern Norway

Welcome to Luregarden, the Viking farm. This land, on a peninsula north of Bergen, has been continually farmed since before Viking times. The grazing animals maintain an increasingly rare patch of lowland heathland. Erik, the farmer at Luregarden, is keeping the tradition going, with his flock of old breed Viking sheep, Viking cows and 1 pig (old breed, probably Viking). The farm also grows masses of fruit and veg in a neat permaculture system which works so well that Erik is self-sufficient for meat, fish, eggs, fruit and veg year round and can trade his produce for most other needs. He also supplies restaurants, supermarkets and a growing number of people in nearby Bergen.

The farm is nestled in a quiet fjord. The Fjord is unusual in Norway as it is not surrounded by mountains, but by smaller hills. This, along with the narrow entrance, makes a huge difference to the conditions in the Fjord and a unique assemblege of animals has evolved to life there, including a sub-species of herring!

Local, sustainably caught mackerel

The farm has been a place of fun and knowledge exhange for many WWOOFERS (volunteers for WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms), including ourselves. Here Erik and Geoff enjoy a trip to a small heather covered island which makes up part of the farm where the sheep graze.

Bergen is known for being quite rainy... but it is worth is for rainbows like these!

A Viking sheep. A very hardy old breed with beautiful wool and heather nourished meat.

Also on the farm are four old breed cows, Dina the pig and lots of lovely chickens:

Erik has worked hard to develop a system of farming where nothing is wasted and everthing fits neatly into an overall plan. The animals eat leftovers and scraps from the vegetable crops, the pig prepares beds prior to planting by digging through the soil with her snout, and the chickens provide some fertilizer. Brilliant systems of composting ensure that nothing is wasted, not even humanure! If you find that last idea a bit strange (as I suppose is only natural!!) read the humanure handbook for free at and prepare to be won over (and very amused at the same time)!

A bit about the produce:

The farm is amazingly productive, for example, there are 27 varieties of potatoes! You'll also find carrots, asparagus, onions, lettuce, leeks, kohl rabi, squashes, pumpkins, courgettes (by the tonne!), sugar-snap peas, french beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, chineses leaves, beetroot, jerusalem artichokes, strawberries, redcurrents, raspberries, fruit trees and herbs. There are two poly-tunnels which provide a huge crop of tomatoes, cucumbers and more delicate herbs such as basil. Most of this is sold but of course some of it goes straight to our dinner table - yum!

A tiny fraction of the potatoes we harvested.

Onions drying in the eaves of the barn to get them ready for storage.

Market day - getting some of the produce ready to leave the farm.

Tomatoes and cucumbers

Anything that is not eaten or sold is preserved in ingenious ways. This is lacto-acid fermented courgette... um sounds delicious!

The produce goes to Bergen - a really nice city on the edge of a fjord (like most cities in Norway!).

It has a medieval part to the city with wooden buildings and narrow alleyways.

We really enjoyed staying here but had to leave because we were invited for a job interview back in Scotland! There was just time for one last adventure before we left so we headed for the hills in search of mountains and musk ox - see next blog entry!

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