There are many opportunities to sample slow gastronomy and eat sustainably based on locally sourced, organic ingredients found around the region.
A few years ago, the farm-to-table (sometimes called farm-to-fork) movement began to grow as a way of putting focus on homegrown ingredients, sustainable gastronomy practices, and promoting local restaurants and producers. By eliminating as much of the middleman as possible, this means buying directly from local producers such as farms, wineries, breweries, dairy producers and fisheries, to name a few.
The word “farm” often used in this context is actually synonymous with “local producers” and in addition to reducing our environmental footprints, part of this global campaign is to be able to trace where our ingredients come from through these direct relationships with producers and artisans.
This element of traceability appeals to a new generation of travelers and consumers who are more conscious about their buying choices and often support brands based on the brand’s values, social responsibilities and environmental impacts above the product itself.
Farm-to-table concepts focus on freshness and seasonal produce. This means travelers to Kvarken can fully experience some of its natural ingredients such as chanterelle mushrooms, sea buckthorn berries, wild game such as moose, and Arctic char at their freshest when in season.
There are many ways to indulge in farm-to-table experiences around Kvarken. Restaurant Gotthards Krog is a good example. In addition to running their own vegetable gardenat Älvåkern, Gotthards has two-star KRAV certifications as an ecological and ethical restaurant. They also run the project #svinngott, where fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be discarded are saved and refined. Many restaurants such as Köksbaren and Rex in Umeå work with local suppliers, so while enjoying the delicious meals, you are also supporting the farmers, artisans, and producers.
With a brewing tradition dating back to 1865, Bock’s Corner Brewery produces craft beer in small quantities and runs a gastropub. But what makes Bock’s extra special is their unique leadership role within their local community as a facilitator, securing more sustainable conditions for small local producers of food, beverages and handicrafts by running a monthly outdoor market on their property.
The brewery allows the farmers and local producers to sell their goods directly to the customer in their cozy market square without any location charges. This allows local producers to re-invest directly back into their businesses by cutting out the middleman.
By facilitating this market, Bock’s is creating more conscious customers. These monthly market events act as catalysts for gearing the customer’s mindset towards a more sustainable society, where they can buy local, reduce food waste, appreciate and recognize the work behind every jar of jam or bunch of carrots, and pay for quality products with a small carbon footprint.
Tucked in the lush green countryside of the High Coast (Höga Kusten) on the Swedish side of Kvarken, Gårdsbutiken Cafe and Restaurant has been running its own farm for four generations. In its cozy open-plan restaurant which overlooks outdoor seating and meadows, you can dig into local specialties using its own homegrown ingredients as well as partners.
For example, Gårdsbutiken sources whisky and gin from fellow Kvarken food and drink partners, High Coast Whisky and Hernö Gin respectively, it serves Mjälloms tunnbröd which is crispbread produced in the High Coast, and it gets fresh meat, poultry, and fish in season from other farms and fisheries.
During the summer, its farm is open for guests to peruse freshly grown produce such as vegetables and fruit. All potatoes served in its restaurant are grown by Gårdsbutiken.
On the Finnish side of Kvarken, the concept of REKO is quite popular. Launched in 2013 by a Finn, Thomas Snellman, REKO is an initiative that uses social networks such as Facebook between producers and consumers, where producers can announce what they will be growing or have for sale soon, and customers can order in advance. The goods are delivered in a common marketplace such as a farmer’s market or boutique storefront.
So, the concept of going directly from farm to fork is one that is well rooted in Kvarken. Local companies such as Marmeladkompaniet in Jakobstad, located in a cozy and cute little red cottage, use locally sourced berries such as sea buckthorn and cloudberries in their handcrafted jams and marmelades. So you can pick up a couple jars as souvenirs when visiting the region.
Travel back in time to the 18th century and explore one of the oldest and best preserved vicarages in the Nordics. Located on the Finnish side of Kvarken and open all year round, Rosenlund’s Rectory and Aspegren Gardens is an elegant sprawling estate encased by stone walls with easy access to lush open fields and meadows. Once there, you can explore vibrant flower gardens, check out carp fish ponds, feed sheep and bask in the relaxing atmosphere that makes this place special.
Its Aspegren Gardens in particular are designed to feel like a kitchen garden with vegetables, herbs, and other produce.
And as a visitor traveling around the region, be sure to spot by its Rosenlund restaurant in the old rectory which serves regional seasonal dishes such as reindeer fillet with cranberries and chanterelle sauce, parsnip carrot puree, and sea buckthorn cheesecake, using vegetables grown right in its own garden.