Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Living Museum Farm at Fredriksdal

I spent last Sunday afternoon tagging along with Bo Dahlgren, head of the living farm at Fredriksdal's Museums & Gardens here in Helsingborg and continued discovering how lucky I am to have a working farm barely two kilometers from my front door (especially nice since I am participating in the Eat Local Challenge).

The Fredriksdal farm is also smack in the middle of Helsingborg, putting it a scant 10 minute stroll from Kullagatan, our main pedestrian shopping street. And, oh delight, its entire reason for being is to preserve the cultural history and natural diversity of life in the Scanian countryside. This means natural organic methods and heirloom fruit and vegetables, like the chiogga or candy cane beets and borgherre apples above. When volunteers have time to help with the harvesting, the fruit and vegetables are sold in the museum's gift shop at the main entrance. The only thing more local than this in Helsingborg is my own little garden.
Gullros, the pretty Rödkulla cow, and the rest of my animal friends at Fredriksdal are naturally raised, traditional and rare breeds of cattle, pigs, rabbits, goats and poultry.

The pigs require a special mention here (vegetarians avert your eyes).

These are no ordinary piggies. They have been raised up on organic apples and potaotes that ripen within their sight on the farm and are an ancient native breed from the Linderöd Ridge in Stone Age Scania. These Linderöd Pigs numbered only ten adult animals in 1992 but now they are happily making a comeback with the help of Fredriksdal, Bo and Slowfood. According to Slowfood's Convivium Helsingborg website, there are now 350 adult Linderöd pigs registered for breeding and these lucky porkers are the only Swedish native breed of pigs to be granted the environmental support of endangered domesticated breeds by the Swedish Board of Agriculture.

The description of the Linderöd's looks and tempermant on the Slowfood site is so quaint that I must not rob you of it:
The Linderöd Pig is a little round and has sturdy strong legs. The snout is straight and well developed. The colour is gaudily black on a white/grey or brown bottom. Sometimes the black spots can be so big that the animal almost looks black. There is a great variety, and individual animals can be predominantly black or brown. The brown animals are more orange when they are small, but they gradually develop into brown/grey when they get old. Not a single white animal has yet been born, which indicates that the breed is native. The Linderöd Pig has a winter fur and likes being outdoors all the year around. The pigs grow slowly and they are calm, patient and sociable.
What you see below is Linderöd bacon and pork tenderloin, born on the Fredriksdal farm, raised on organic apples and cold-smoked by our local smokery master, Per in Viken. Delicious. But, you say, if you want to preserve the breed, why are you eating it?
Bo explained it to me. The reason that these rare, native breeds are disappearing is precisely because we don't eat them anymore. If they are to make a real comeback and if we are to promote biological diversity, they must become more than museum pieces. This is also why Bo is away from the farm this week and participating in the Salone Del Gusto and Terra Madre annual, international Slowfood events in Turin, Italy, for everyone who is passionate about good, clean and fair food. Bon Courage!

No comments: