Ødeverp farm has been in the Høstvik family for generations and since 1990, vegetables have been grown organically. From 1990 onwards, the present owner, Rune Høstvik, delivered his products to wholesalers, but in 2015 he switched to community supported agriculture […]
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Ødeverp farm

by admin on 23/04/2016

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Ødeverp farm has been in the Høstvik family for generations and since 1990, vegetables have been grown organically. From 1990 onwards, the present owner, Rune Høstvik, delivered his products to wholesalers, but in 2015 he switched to community supported agriculture where everyone was invited to become part owners. Having been concerned about modern food production for some time, it was only natural for me to join. Likewise, more than 100 more people became part owners in 2015, while so far this year a little more than 80 parts have been sold.

While the harvesting season starts in late April/early May, the growing season starts in February. First, organic seeds are bought from Solhatt  and Runåbergs fröer.  Then, using a machine which mixes fertilised seeds and chicken litter such that small beds of compressed chicken litter are divided into square plots each of which contains one seed. Each seed will have, say, a cube with sides of about 4cm in which to grow. After having finished this operation, each bed is brought inside the farmer’s house where it will be kept at room temperature in order to let the seeds grow into shoots before they are either planted in a greenhouse or outside.

Organising an open day on Saturday 23 April, everyone was invited to visit the farm. We met outside the greenhouse where Rune showed us some organic strawberry plants, which had survived the winter below some layers of maize plastic. Rune and some volunteers put a portable grrenhouse above the plants such that we should have a real delicacy, although in very small quantities, to look forward to in late June/early July.

Having entered the stationary greenhouse, we could see groups of shoots growing in cubes of chicken litter inside plastic containers. Actually, the tomato plants were quite big, say, 30 cm tall, while the other ones looked like  they had just sprouted. In fact, the greenhouse was divided into two parts and in the second one,there were raised beds where groups of salad were growing, but still too early to start harvesting. The vegetables being grown included a lettuce called batavia and Chinese cabbage like bok cho and pak choy,  both of which are winter-hardy, a very useful characteristic during the present cold spring with temperatures oscillating above and below 0°C.  Last year, this part of the greenhouse was used to grow tomatoes and herbs and I suppose as the rather cold spring turns into a warmer summer, mostly tomatoes and herbs will be grown inside, while the other one will be grown outside.

As part owners, we received weekly emails about what to harvest and since the majority of the plants are grown outside, we just had to follow the seasons and harvest according to the weekly guidelines. Then, the excursions could start in the greenhouse where a list showed what to harvest in the greenhouse, what to harvest outside, which could be e.g.  carrots, salads, peas, celery, rhubarb and squash. Then, having taking one’s share, it was natural to proceed to a sink in order to rinse the harvest. Besides, there was another field where we could harvest e.g. potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and, late in the season, maize and Jerusalem artichoke.

It seems like all part owners at Ødeverp and similar enterprises find delight in harvesting vegetables which they harvest themselves, knowing where they come from and knowing that no pesticides or herbicides have been applied. Since the risk for the farmer due to extreme weather events, plant diseases and low prices when selling to wholesalers are avoided by letting the part owners pay for each part at the start of the season, it should be safe to say that this is in accordance with the philosophy of Slow Food: good, clean and fair.

Being a type of cooperative, each part owner should also work for at least 6 hours each season, but it is up to everybody to do this because nobody controls how much they work. Like the weekly list of vegetables ready for harvesting, work which needed to be done was also described. For my part, I dug up Jerusalem artichokes by means of a pitchfork and planted them on another field, planted potatoes manually, weeded and supported parts of pea plants on ropes amounting to maybe more than 6 hours in all, but hardly strenuous work. Anyway, working in an office in my day job, working manually was a really nice change, it felt really relaxing for my mind, I could see the tubers we had planted turn into shoots and plants, while the pea plants made good use of the ropes we had strung up.  Besides, inside the greenhouse, new tomatoes always seemed to be ready even though we were allowed to pick six of them each weekly.

In September there was a feast of thanksgiving where the part owners brought dishes they had from the harvest at Ødeverp.

The season petered out in November when the temperature crept below 0°C and the fields were always wet. Then, the farm was left to the Høstvik family who would prepare it for another season.

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