In the coming days I am going to ask Espoo City to meet with me regarding Lillklobb’s future. I believe that Lillklobb has become a place of value to the regenerative food movement in Finland and that it should not be allowed to fall out of the care of people who love it. The world has changed too much from last summer to this spring for that to be a wise decision.
Last year a confluence of events and pressures led me to make the decision to stand down from my contract with Espoo City regarding Lillklobb. At the time it felt like the right choice. Since starting there in late 2016, I learned an enormous amount about farming, running a business, juggling work and family life (my daughter was born spring 2017), and finally got to have skin in the game. There is no doubt in my mind that the opportunity has made me a better person. Leaving Lillklobb a more biodiverse and carbon rich soil gift was something that I felt was a tolerable way to end things.
However, things have changed dramatically between the end of last summer and now.
As people around the world reel from Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine, a lot of attention has turned to issues of food security, sustainability, and the future of agriculture. In light of our new reality, stepping away from a small but extraordinarily well maintained market garden and agroforestry system with nothing but a whisper feels both a bit obtuse and even injudicious. The context of last year’s decision is no longer the same, at all.
The very idea of leaving behind a place that can provide high quality food to many people each year, from on a very small piece of land, a place that has - whether people want to admit it or not- inspired a bit of change in this country, just doesn’t sit right anymore. Especially given that I’m now virtually fully booked to help others start their own gardens and farms this spring, simply walking away from Lillklobb feels fatuous.
I do not harbor any illusions that Lillklobb is going to save anyone from starvation or some other such delusions of grandeur. Rather, I feel that after pouring my heart and soul into the land for over five years (I started design in 2015-2016) that the place has more to give. That it was made, in part, as a place of potential for when hard times come.
That the story shouldn’t be over.
As you will read below, I do not have a concrete plan yet. But time is of the essence: winter is drawing to an end and there is a narrowing window of opportunity to intervene in the process of disuse. If I have built up any trust with you over these years, I ask that you grant me the benefit of the doubt that any plan we come up with between Espoo and I will be faithfully carried out.
If you follow this page you know that I never say “like and share this post to help me grow!” This time things are different. I feel strongly that I need to go into any potential meeting with Espoo City with list of people who are willing to say: “Please give Lillklobb a second chance.”
I have created a Google Form Survey to collect signatures. You can both sign and indicate that you would be interested in participating in developing the community aspect. More on that below.
If anything I have done or shared over the last five years has helped you- anywhere in the world- please consider contributing your voice to let Espoo City know what they are losing.
For probably the first time ever, I am asking you to like and share this post with your friends- but please only sign the petition if you really mean it.
What would change?
The market gardens and agroforestry systems at Lillklobb would continue their shift towards trialing low input, regenerative forms of food production with the aim of developing cropping systems for small scale private and community gardeners to employ. With a creative mind some of the patterns of production could be adapted for commercial operations, but I no longer feel that is something I have much interest in doing at Lillklobb.
During this growing season, I am interested in building on my experience from last year’s polyculture market garden system and setting that up as a research project with a community aspect. We would reclaim parts of the market garden that are under perennial cover crops and plant large scale food crops like potatoes and cabbage in other areas according to a new crop plan. I currently have two plots under garlic which I reserve for my own commercial use. I think the maximum number of people we could have “on board” as serious community volunteers should not surpass 10 persons.
This is in part because all of the equipment is my own personal property and I need to be very conscientious about who I trust. This opportunity will not be for anyone who shows interest. If we are to bring Lillklobb into a new beginning it needs to be done with much thought and care.
After piloting added community responsibility this year, we would advance into 2023 with a clearer vision of dividing responsibility and decision making.
What would not change?
While I do not have a revised crop plan or an exceptionally clear vision for how the community aspect could operate, I do know that I strongly believe that I should retain formal responsibility for the site into the foreseeable future. I have invested countless hours and more than 60,000 € over the last few years from a seed capital of less than 10,000 €. I have scraped by and held on tight to stay afloat at much personal cost.
It would not be logical or fair to create a system where I no longer have a leadership capacity. However, I know that Lillklobb produces more than any one family would need to eat and I want to open the space- within some parameters- for more engagement so that we can learn together. After some time we will think how it makes sense for the community that develops there to assume contractual responsibility and ownership of equipment.
Therefore, on paper, the core of the current contract would stand for the time being.