Charlotte’s Swedish Adventure
This month the Elan Valley Trust's assistant land agent Charlotte Harley joined like-minded agricultural people on a two week excursion to southern Sweden. The trip had been organised by Walford and North Shropshire college under a Leonardo da Vinci mobility project funded by the EU.
It involved travelling around the area meeting farmers and businesses involved with forestry, agriculture and the production of food and drink. Visits included Hereford and Aberdeen Angus beef breeders, lamb and butchery shop, poultry units, fresh fruit and vegetable growers, dairy farms, a pig unit, local micro-breweries, Absolut vodka and joining a cow release party! The "party" attracted over 2500 people for the spectacle of the dairy cows being released to pasture for the first time this spring.
Charlotte said of the trip, "My favourite stop was the cow release party; it was outstanding to see so many people attend such a simple event and to witness the apparent ease of health and safety and other red tape that would hamper similar events in the UK. I also enjoyed the two beef stops, as Hereford and Aberdeen Angus are typical UK breeds and it's good to compare systems and management. Furthermore the opportunity to speak to the farmers, I think it's beneficial to both parties to share good practises and lessons learnt."
"It was interesting to witness the agriculture differences, comparing Sweden to England and Wales. They have minimal environment procedures for their land such as Entry Level schemes of Glastir in the UK. It was good to see the uptake of renewable energies, primarily wind turbines and bio-gas plants. The idea of community 'boilers' that provide the entire town with electricity and heating, rather than individual home installations, was fascinating."
"I would like to extend a huge thank you to Walford and North Shropshire college and the Federation of Swedish Farmers for the opportunity. Thanks also to all the wonderful hosts who were willing to share their farms with 20 strangers and who were prepared to discuss their systems, hopes and progress for the future."