EDIT 17 March 2021: LONG TERM VOLUNTEER(S) WANTED (see details further below)
We are a small regenerative farm in Sweden, run by mother (Carla) and son (me, Arthur). We moved to this farm in rural Värmland in 2015, and have since worked hard on starting the process of turning four hectares of poor hay meadow and two hectares of poor spruce plantation into an ever more biologically and functionally diverse ecosystem.
I hold a master's degree in biology (specialised in ecology and environmental biology), but feel that I am still unlearning a lot of what I learned during those years at university. Lots of self-study in the principles of permaculture, bushcraft, wild food, traditional ways of building and crafting, reading, and simply from studying the world around me by immersing myself in it, have changed my outlook on life considerably.
Of most note is our very new (May 2020) dive into holistically planned grazing. So far we have only six sheep, but the winter of 2020-21 should see the visit of a ram, hopefully leading to a significantly larger population come spring. These sheep, through our management, will be able to have the effect that grazing animals in the wild have on the land they inhabit: regenerating it. Conventional management of grazers means that they cannot help but degenerate the land, leading to erosion, soil loss, compaction, ever poorer biodiversity, carbon emissions, build-up of polluting manure, etc. In holistically planned grazing, the opposite is the goal. Even after one growing/grazing season, we have seen how the meadow has become richer. The complex fencing system is, at the time of writing this, almost finished, but the coming months will almost certainly require a lot of adjustments, and moving the sheep from paddock to paddock every second or third day is also a job we would like to share.
Furthermore, there are chickens, ducks, and rabbits on the farm, as well as our two cats and one dog.
We are working hard on expanding and improving our vegetable growing area, as well as planting a great diversity of trees and bushes on the land. Selectively cutting down trees in the plantation area, to replace them with more functionally diverse trees, is another of our big priorities.
We slowly work towards self-sufficiency in terms of food, firewood, building material, and fibers for clothing. We are certainly not there yet. The goal is also to be able to grow enough so that we can sell produce on local markets as well. So far we have only managed this on a very small scale, but a bit more every year.
The farm lies in a very quiet hamlet, right in the woods and fields, and it borders on a lake with good swimming, boating, and fishing opportunities. We are about 7 kilometers away from the nearest tiny village, and about 25 kilometers from the nearest town. There is no public transport along our road.
We live in the main house, which is close to the road, but for volunteers we have a small but comfortable and well-equipped cabin at the forest edge, pretty close to the lake. We very much like to interact with our volunteers, and at least some of the work we (you and I, Arthur) will do together. We usually share breakfast with our volunteers on their working days (we ask for five hours per day, five days a week), and regularly share a coffee/tea break. Other meals we will share occasionally. That means that volunteers will have a fair level of privacy (as will we), but always in combination with plenty of interaction as well.
We stress that we are NOT vegetarians/vegans, and we do keep animals also for meat. This may make it hard for vegetarians and vegans to be here, unless you can be at peace with this fact. We are happy to discuss the subject, but not in arguments about it.
Help with Eco Projects
DIY and building projects
We are Dutch people living in Sweden, who have also spent six years in Scotland. We can share bits of experience from all of these places. You will have plenty of opportunity to explore the surroundings here. Even though there is no public transport, we can drive you towards the nearest bus stop. If you would have your own transport, things get easier, of course.
Edit 17 march 2021
We are looking for long a term volunteer, or preferably a couple, to really get to know our little farm, so that apart from helping me, you can soon work autonomously on it, in all the fields outlined below. included is a chance to also spend time working on your own project of choice, which could be something farm-based with which you generate an income while you are here, of which you can keep a reasonable amount, based on how much help and/or material you need from us for it. It is a case of "you don't have land but have a plan, and we have some land for which we do not yet have a plan". let's bring those two together!
We would love some help with all the care for the animals. That means the less fun mucking out of their houses, but also endless cuddling sessions with the sheep, the dog, and the rabbits (if you can teach the rest to appreciate cuddles, that would be fine as well!), and the more interesting bits such as learning by doing about holistically planned grazing, and general sheep and animal care. Have you ever clipped sheep hoofs?
We deeply love all our animals, and we admire them very much for their ability, if given the opportunity, to improve the world they live in in just about all ways. A big part of our efforts is aimed at providing them that possibility, and that is a process that never stops: it can always get better. Any help with that would be much appreciated.
But keeping functional groups of animals means that they will produce young. And this inevitably means that there will be a surplus of animals sooner or later. That is why we try to sell some of our animals alive, but we also kill to eat. We feel that this is OK, not just because we will have done everything we can to have made their lives as good and enjoyable as possible, but also because one day it will be our turn to give ourselves to the greater community.
We would love to invite people here who either already have experience killing and butchering poultry and/or rabbits, or who would want to learn how to do this. This is not a demand, but it skuld be very helpful for us at certain times. For us the taking of a life is never a fun thing, but it is a deeply moving time, where one life will provide for the lives of others, for which we feel incredible gratitude, humbleness, and, yes, happiness. The killing and butchering is done, impossible though that may sound to some, with deep respect, gratitude, and love.
Because this is a pretty diverse setup, the diversity of tasks to be done is very great as well. No day is the same, and whatever the planned action for the day is, chances are that plans will change last minute, because priorities can shift instantly. A goshawk attacking the chickens will require immediate attention to protect the birds from further attacks, no matter what else might be going on. The same thing goes for a failure in the sheep fencing, and so on.
Volunteers who are with us during or just before the growing season will also be involved in gardening, planting, harvesting, expansion of the growing area, and will include learning about no-dig methods, hugelbeds, companion planting, etc.
Forest management is yet another part of the tasks at hand. It may include cutting down trees with hand tools (based on experience level, confidence, and can be tailored to abilities, and will only include chainsaw work if you have papers already), and processing them into either firewood or building material. Replanting young trees goes hand in hand with cutting down trees, and much thought will be given to the hows and whys. Planting trees is also an always present goal on the meadow. Both sheep and grass perform way better in an open woodland than in a wide open field, and this stacking of functions means that there is both more produce for us to benefit from, as well as that the community of all life benefits optimally as well.
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Accommodation comes in the form of a very nice small Swedish wooden cabin. The cabin has a nice private garden, and has a living room/bedroom easily big enough for two, a fully functional kitchen, and is heated by a very effective woodstove. In a separate building, right next to the cabin, is a compost toilet, which you will be responsible for.
The cabin is a few hundred meters away from the main house, so a fair level of privacy is guaranteed.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
Any size van can find a nice spot on our meadow.
Strictly only animals that are fully used to small farm animals, and will not chase them.
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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