The Great Pumpkins

Sweden’s climate isn’t ideal for pumpkins, but this organic farm beats the odds.

By Irene Virag

Photography by Pernilla Bergdahl

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Giant pumpkins of SwedenLike most organic gardeners, Gossling rotates crops around his six 1-acre fields.

"We shift the crops every year, except for asparagus, which stands in the same field over a 15-year period. We use our own compost and manure from a neighbor. We have little problem with insects, because it is windy and dry."

All the weeding is done by hand and there is a supporting cast of workers, but this season tourists were invited to pitch in as part of Solberga Gård's down-to-earth attraction. The farm includes a top-rated restaurant that features its own vegetables in soups and salads as well as a tasty lamb sausage. And farm-produced products such as salami and honey are sold in a newly refurbished shop. There's also a hotel and two summer houses available to rent.

All the food and facilities at Solberga Gård follow the precepts of KRAV, an organization that certifies and monitors organic enterprises in Sweden. The farm was certified in 1988, and Gossling wants to build on that. Immediate plans include a line of organic apple juices from the heirloom varieties Gossling planted when he took over, organic jams in unusual combinations like peaches and tomatoes, and an organic microbrewery. And he's persuading chefs from all over Oland to tend their own plots on the farm and grow their own vegetables.

"I have a long-standing ambition," he says, "to have the entire island certified as being green. It would be the first region in Sweden to be certified as organic."

On an island of wind and sun, that's an idea worth cultivating.

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