— Sustainability

At the moment I am sitting overlooking the fjord of and the mountains of Saltdal having a winter break in the north of Norway. There is a peaceful quietness after a storm yesterday. The sun is slowly waking up in the winterlandscape, breaking through in dots on the mountains around. One of the most valuable teachings of last year has the importance of this rest, this silence after a storm. How this is where we regenerate, where we charge, and get ready for the next round.

And that capacity has really been needed especially for my part. When I started working as a teacher I was going into a dance of unpredictability, not only trying to motivate myself through the turbulence, but also my students. So right now I am really enjoying this moment of pause, of rest, the view and the opportunity for perspective.

Last week I saw a beautiful illustration of 2020 made by our friends in Growlab inspired by another good friend Matt Sykes working with Regeneration Projects. The illustration shows their latest work with regenerative googles. It made me think about what our map would look like. I have always seen gathering people around a table and using a meal as a narrative of inspiring people to be more conscious and connect to the circle of life through food. When this opportunity to gather people disappeared overnight it left us with time to reflect upon our work and our own sustainability.

After being a part of many seasons helping out in gardens, knowing that one of the most basic principles of resilience in nature is “variety.  I had already taken the decision to move  in a new direction. After  independently working with events for a long time, I had come to the conclusion that I wanted more stability and predictability in my life. One of the most important roles we can play in building a sustainable future is education, thats why I had started educate myself to become a teacher. I first thought that I would use this education in some of the already existing projects Food Studio has been involved in  like Losæter, the library in Grünerløkka or the small farm Vefallneset in Drangedal. But this year nothing turned out as planned and what turned up was a position at the local high-school in my childhood village. So the year when half of the teachers want out of teaching, that was exactly what I turned out doing.

It was also great timing because the political work that I have followed from the outset to get both sustainability and life-learning into Norwegian schools was also launched this autumn. So in a strange way it feels like it’s all connected together, and I now suddenly participate in some of the projects that I was a part of creating in the “online resources” for Norwegian teachers. Being a witness to this implementation from the inside of an organization has been a very interesting process to follow.

Luckily we had some reserves to take from, and we had the flexibility to adapt. I think the main reason for this being possible and not just “the end of this company”, was that we never accepted the demand from outside that we put our focus in one box, even how difficult it has been to answer the question “what is it really you do” – there has been an underlying understanding that considering the complexity of our mission, there has to be complexity and variety in our delivery.

So in 2020 we only gathered people three times, we started out thinking it would be a great year for everyday adventures and made the “Winter Wilderness Experience” concept and had one pilot before it the lockdown. But we managed to do one dinner in Losæter together with the “Seed to Fork” project of Norwegian seed-savers and we did one autumn Get Away in Drangedal with the theme of “Beeing Well in Nature”. We moved our focus towards consulting and teaching and in this way stabilized our own sustainability. 

Now looking into 2021, with the experience of how unpredictable the first month felt we mobilize even greater flexibility, but at the same time I can feel a deep longing after those projects where everything makes sense, where it all comes to flow, and there is no question that I’m using my resources optimally.This year we are planning a “farm to fork” experience with students from the antroposofic school in Oslo at Soleggen in Jotunheimen at Aukrust farm and collaborating with Growlab on a consumer-oriented process for Geitmyra Food Culture center for kids. We are also prepared to wait, to rest and reflect and come back even stronger when we can do that again.

Text: Cecilie Dawes

Photo: Johanne Nyborg