Bornholm, known as Denmark’s Food Island, has a remarkable and vibrant network of small food producers.
I spent a week at a summer school there, thinking about food, innovation and place-making. Here are five leaves I think we could take from their book:
A mutually beneficial partnership between the Agricultural Museum and Gourmet Bornholm (local producer network), and led to a dramatic increase visitor attendance at the Museum and the development of Madkulturhus (Food Culture House), with around 300 events each year, including Apple Day which attracts ~2500 guests in September.
The social cooking, social dining, events and educational opportunities at Madkulturhus and associated gatherings at members’ sites have fostered further collaborations among producers, such as shared study trips, direct trade among producers, and taking each other’s products to markets elsewhere in Denmark.
Land for innovation
Part of this partnership includes a land-based opportunity to eco-entrepreneurs and new entrants to sustainable farming, by offering an acre of land close to Madkulturhus at a peppercorn rent to applicants with a plan for using the land in an experimental or innovative way towards sustainable food production.
Participants are encouraged to work together, and have the opportunity to use the land in the long term, enabling agro-forestry and silviculture projects, and long term investments in the land and soils, as well as seed saving projects.
You’ve probably seen sea buckthorn growing wild on the Lincolnshire coast, but Hostet is a sea buckthorn farm!
The bright orange berries – though sharp when eaten straight off the bush – are very nutritious (vitamins, anti-oxidants and omega fatty acids) and tasty (think jams, syrups, juices, schnapps, granita).
The plants are grown organically, and don’t require additional fertiliser since the plants are nitrogen-fixing, and all parts of the plant are used, from oil used in soap and skincare products to animal feed.
If you thought it was just a prickly seaside weed, think again!
Local school dinners
Nexo school is like the Washingborough Academy of Bornholm, with a school leadership team committed to nourishing food for pupils and a fantastic, hands-on food education.
The school kitchen garden teacher and the chef are key players. They also have a close relationship with local farmers: Bornholm Food is a co-operative of 15 growers who are working together on experimental growing of sustainable food crops, including plant-based proteins such as lentils.
The school chef commits to buying it for school meals, and is confident that the children, who eat vegetarian on two days a week, are happy to eat it.
This article is published in the Lincoln Independent September 2022
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