A bus to discover Swedish biodiversity and food policies

27 Oct 2022 | English

In August and September, as part of the Call4Action program, Slow Food Stockholm organized a bus tour to some of Stockholm’s finest allotment farmers, from north to south. This event wanted to celebrate the act of eating together as a way forward for the Stockholm community. 

Within the allotment garden system of Stockholm there are more than 7000 people involved, and this certainly dictates great diversity of food cultures, but also problems to overcome – including land regulations, agricultural toxins contaminating soil, urban expansion. 7000 people defending local, cultural and biological diversity, but all Stockholmers are not up to speed. Slow Food Stockholm wanted to spread the message by interacting among and within the allotment system!

The bus tours took place on three different days. We started out with a visit to Goitum Habtemariam, in the northwest suburb of Husby, who together with his family showed us his looming garden and shared some Eritrean food culture to the tunes of East-African oldies. Goiutum’s garden has a huge number of rare vegetables. Goiutum tells us that he has been an athlete all is life and he says that the hard work with the plants gives him joy, at the same time as it brings him and his family a healthy lifestyle. 

With our bellies filled with teff injeras, hungry for more, we jumped on the bus and crossed the city of Stockholm diagonally, to a south-eastern suburb called Pungpinan. We were greeted by the Dosky’s, a family with roots in Kurdistan. Garden herbal tea cooked on a homemade stove gave us alla a moment to get to know each other, and to talk about why we were there – the Slow Food reasons Good, Clean and Fair. For the Dosky’s this was a normal day, as they often prepare something to eat and drink for the neighboring gardeners. Allotment garden expert Katja Jassay joined in, and was later to be found discussing the same matters in one of the online events at Terra Madre in Turin.

On day two the Dosky’s stood for a more substantial lunch of Kurdish origin – all vegetarian – and the bus tour this time around went back up to the northern suburbs where Slawomir Nosek with wife awaited us in their allotment equipped with most any comfort – even for the wintertime! The substantial amount of food produced by Slawomir is astonishing, the bulk being made up by potatoes, tomatoes, cale, onion and berry bushes. Together with gardener and whistle blower Lena Israelsson we gathered around more than 6 nationalities to discuss landrights, city farming policies and the burden of allotment farmers having to deal with toxic pesticide and insecticide that often ends up in these organic-by-law fields through the use of “organic” manure. The feed of the animals producing the manure is unfortunately not regulated and once again we can clearly see just how blinded the food laws and policies are by the compartmentalization of only seemingly different issues – and how much of the holistic approach that still has not permeated the minds of our local politicians.

If the first two bus tours focused on biodiversity and food policy, the social aspects of the food system were brought to light on the third and last tour. As setting we couldn’t have chosen a more ideal place: Terra Madre Nordic! The food event bringing all the Nordic Slow Food convivia’s together for the first time since 2018, this time in Stockholm, called for a happening that would bring in the whole of Stockholm to the food event that was situated in its center. We could think of no better way but to let the organization of Reformaten guide our bus tour to a very special allotment farm close to the suburb of Rinkeby, where Boodla and Yalla Rinkeby has been redesigning the allotment together with the local community so that it’d be ready for their harvesting festival, that luckily took place the same day as Terra Madre Nordic and the bus tour!Participants in this free event, financed by the European Union’s LIFE programme, got to know some of the people growing food to defend cultural and natural biodiversity on Stockholm’s soil.

This event was part of The Road to Terra Madre, a series of initiatives organized by the Slow Food network around the world to pave the way towards the international gathering which took place in Turin, Italy, from September 22-26 to regenerate the future of food together.

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