Grøndalen farm

by admin on 28/11/2008

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Grøndalen farm meaning the Green valley farm is being run in an organic manner, having excellent animal welfare, and producing a fromage blanc called Nýr, which is pronounced neer and can by all means replace both cream and sour cream.

We went to Grøndalen farm in the Sørum district located about one hour drive northeast of Oslo.  We were expecting some information on running an organic farm and doing small-scale cheese production. Instead, we got much more.

We met a farmer called Hans Arild Grøndahl with a liking for organic agriculture and animal welfare and a sense of balance in his environment. Hans Arild showed us his barn where the animals could walk around more or less freely whenever they felt like it. The most unique experience of it all was to see with our own eyes that the animals were having such a good time. In addition to being more or less free,  the newborn calves stay with their mothers for 8 weeks.

On the contrary, it’s common practice to separate mother and child straight after birth which is certainly a traumatic experience for both of them. For the first two days after birth, cow and calf stay together separate from the other animals, while they stay together with the other ones afterwards. Even after the 8 weeks have passed, cow and calf are able to see each other across a fence.

Calf growth rate and welfare in a dairy herd with natural feeding until 6-8 weeks of age.

This way of treating cows have gained a lot of attention, bringing visitors from lots of countries across the world in order to see what Hans Arild and his family have achieved. A short time after our visit, we were told that a research grant had been approved in order to do research, among other things, on the impact of the treatment of the animals on the milk they are making.

A report in Norwegian describes experiences with letting cows stay with their calves.

Fromage blanc production

Hans Arild rents a small dairy at a vocational school close to his farm in order to produce Nýr, the fromage blanc, which is made from milk to which is added lactic acid bacteria. This leads to a unique, tasty flavour.


Grøndalen gård could have sold a lot more of its fromage blanc. However, they have many of the same challenges like other small-scale producers are struggling with, like marketing and access to markets. However, we who are co-producers1 have to ask for their products at the supermarkets and spread the word as far and wide as possible.

1. Members of Slow Food don’t call themselves consumers, but co-producers to the producers who are producing our food.


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