Haymaking at Flåret in Lier

by admin on 25/08/2016

flaret_w500_14

For the last 3 years, I have been helping with haymaking at Flåret near Sjåstad in the commune of Lier. During the haymaking course at Ryghsetra, I met the chairman of the Friends of the Earth in Lier and the son of the present owner of Flåret. Since they intended to do haymaking at Flåret one week after the haymaking course, I naturally joined them. The local Friends of the Earth association had also got a botanic survey (in Norwegian) of the meadows where 76 different types of plants were found and about 40 of them were characterised as typical for meadows.

As far as I know, Flåret was a small farm which became part of the big farm called Sjåstad, relatively speaking, in 1801. Thereafter, the land was cultivated, animals were raised and various kinds of vegatebles and fruits were cultivated until the 1950s when marginal farmland was abandoned. For the next 60 years, the place was inhabited, but not maintained. However, from 2014 onwards, the most biologically diverse meadows at Flåret have been cut with scythes, while the ones with less diversity have been cut with a machine, and the hay has been put on hay racks for drying.

flaret_w500_15

When the hay has dried, we return and pull the hay from the hayracks to the ground. Next, we gather it in rows by means of rakes. Then, a tractor pulls a machine which turns the hay into haybales. Finally, we carry the haybales up to a road passing through the property. After we have left, the haybales will be brought to a barn where they will be stored and sold to farmers with domestic animals, which love eating this diverse type of fodder.

The first two years, we harvested hay on the second week of July, that is one week after the haymaking course at Ryghsetra, but this year it was deferred to the second weekend of August in order to ensure that the plants on the meadows had produced seeds.

flaret_w500_16

The first year we started, the meadows were completely overgrown and garden flowers like lupinus were abundant. This year, they were all gone and lots of trees had been cut down such that more sunlight could enter. By continuing this work, we should be able to create a biologically diverse “island” in a forest where commercial foresty prevents it from occurring. In fact, there have been many meadows in the forest above the valley of Lier where people have raised animals and used the hay on the meadows to feed them in winter. However, since the 1950s, these places have, in general, not been maintained such that they will gradually disappear if nothing is done.

The week before we were haymaking at Flåret, I was doing haymaking at another former homestead, called Myresetra. It was abandoned more than 100 years ago, but animals had been grazing there until the 1970s. More than 40 years with no grazing had led to that the meadows were being overgrown and trees had started turning the meadows into forest. Fortunately, the commune of Drammen recently bought the meadows and the surrounding area. In addition, locals are welcome to join haymaking on the meadows in August. On a rainy day, a small group of volunteers filled two hay racks with hay and used scythes to cut even more. Since the hay racks were full, we spread the excess hay evenly on the ground in order to let it dry.

After we had finished haymaking, the leader of the local history club told us about the last family who had been living there. A Swedish man, who had just arrived in Norway, was told that he could stay there. He and his wife brought up their children in this somewhat remote place and the children had to walk to school and back again daily. The family had some cows and they also cared for other people’s cows for payment. Since a brook is passing the meadows, the Swede set up a water-powered lathe on which he made various wooden products, which he could sell.

Print Friendly

Eve’s community garden

by admin on 14/08/2016

evas_hage_w500

Slideshow Mapreference Website Facebook

I joined Eve’s garden in 2015 because the objective was to help local small-scale producers of foods and drinks by selling their products under one roof. Besides, visits to some of the producers who deliver their products to Eve’s garden, like Ånerud farm are arranged occasionally.

When Eve’s community garden was to be established in winter 2016, I naturally joined and bought a part. 40 parts were up for sale, but there are still a few left. The part owners are called grønnskollinger meaning greenheads where grønn in Norwegian means both the colour green and someone who is inexperienced. Since all of the part owners, as far as I know, have no or very little experience with growing edible plants, it is an apt description.

As stated on the website of Eve’s community garden, there are several reasons for growing our own food, like:

  • total control of what we eat and no residues of pesticides.
  • fresh vegetables are tasty and nutritious.
  • a large selection since we can grow what we want.
  • we take care of the soil by using it for producing food and letting it remain fertile.
  • less transport is good for the environment.
  • we get more knowledgeable about cultivation and nature.

After having founded the community garden, a closed Facebook page was set up and groups were founded, like one for carpenting, compost and herbs, while I joined the photography group and the beekeeper’s group. Unfortunately, another beekeeper has a storeroom nearby such that we can’t have any beehives in the community garden.

Since we starteed in the middle of winter, all of us were asked to raise tomato plants at home where volunteeers got some pots, soil and seeds. Naturally, I also wanted to raise tomatoes and after having put seeds in soil and waiting for, say, a week where nothing seemed to happen, suddenly tiny shoots appeared. Next, tiny leaves appeared as well. Thereafter, the tomato plants grew steadily bigger until I brought them to the comminity garden in the middle of June for participating in prepraring the garden. When I had last been there, the garden looked like a greenfield, but now rows covered by a layer of grasses in order to prevent weeds from growing and wooden cases partly covered by windows in order to create miniature greenhouses were visible.

Next, we prepared another row for planting, which was really hard work becuse the soil was so hard. Finally, after having broken up the soil, some part owners started planting tomato plants and suspending them by a piece of string attached to vertical poles at both ends of the row.

Later, I have also been watering, weeding, putting hay bales into wooden cases and cutting bamboo poles in fixed lengths for use as holders of signs, showing what is grown where besides making a visual reportage of the community garden.

In return for all this work, we get weekly messages telling us about what we can harvest whenever we want.

Since this community garden started from scratch this year, I’m still a part owner at Ødeverp farm where edible plants have been grown since 1990. As I had expected at the start of the season, it takes time to grow a community garden and we have to be patient.

As regards next year, mixed cropping will be practised. In particular, maize (a tall grass), beans (a nitrogen-fixing legume) and squash (a low-lying creeper plant) will be grown together. This kind of agriculture was practised by Native Americans for ages and they called the three plants the Three Sisters. Growing more herbs and fruit trees are also planned.

A greenhouse is very high on our wishlist, but may still be beyond our means.What’s for sure is that there will always be something we would like to get hold of, but which we can’t afford.

Eve’s community garden exchanges seeds, plants and experiences with Sylling Andellandbruk and Kirkerud Andelsgård. In addition, the researcher from Lindum who was conducting a field trial of growing cereals has a container, where he makes compost by means of earthworms, next to the community garden, Since there are also several organic farms with cattle and horses nearby, there is a ready supply of organic fertilisers and compost.

Print Friendly

Antonio Vence – vermouth producer

9 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Antonio Vence – vermouth producer

A man who is making high quality vermouth at affordable prices.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Gabriela Gorostiza – cook

8 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Gabriela Gorostiza – cook

A woman who enjoys cooking and who does catering.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Chocolates de Mendaro – chocolate producer

8 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Chocolates de Mendaro – chocolate producer

A small family-owned company where choclate has been produced for more than 150 years.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Salanort – seafood producer

8 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Salanort – seafood producer

A small famiy-owned seafood producer of anchovies, tuna and octopuses.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Sandra Lejarza – cattle farmer

7 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Sandra Lejarza – cattle farmer

A woman who raises a flock of cattle on her own.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Bizkarra bakery and confectionery

7 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Bizkarra bakery and confectionery

A family-owned bakery and confectionery where delicious breads and sweets are made.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Txakoli Txabarri winery

5 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Txakoli Txabarri winery

A small family-owned winery producing txakoli.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Ana Mari Llaguno – vegetable producer

5 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Ana Mari Llaguno – vegetable producer

A woman who is growing a wide range of vegetables next to her house.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Magora bakery

4 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Magora bakery

A tiny bakery and confectionery making products without gluten and milk.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Vista Alegre farm and farmhouse dairy

4 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Vista Alegre farm and farmhouse dairy

A small family-owned farm producing yogurt, milk and cheese.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Lurrarte – fruit producers

3 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Lurrarte – fruit producers

A small-scale producers of kiwifrutis and apples.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Joseba Insausti – shepherd

3 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Joseba Insausti – shepherd

A young shepherd who stays at a mountain hut in summer and he’s milking his sheep daily.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Aranburu brothers – sheep farmers

2 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Aranburu brothers – sheep farmers

A family-owned farm with about 1200 sheep.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Basazabal farm and farmhouse dairy

2 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Basazabal farm and farmhouse dairy

A farm where sheep’s milk is turned into Idiazabal cheese.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Agrotourism Ondarre

2 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Agrotourism Ondarre

A small family-run farm and inn.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Oiharte cider house and restaurant

1 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Oiharte cider house and restaurant

A cider house producing organic apple cider.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Garoa farmhouse dairy

1 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Garoa farmhouse dairy

A family-owned farm and farmhouse dairy.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Ordizia market and Restaurante Martinez

1 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Ordizia market and Restaurante Martinez

An outdoor market, which has been running weekly, for more than 500 years.

Print Friendly
Read the full article →