#Axgan for Life – Greetings from Åland!

Back of the boat decorated with the Åland flag with a view of the sea behind it

In 2022 there is great concern about climate change and which we have discussed more deeply than ever before in conjunction with sustainable foods. We need to find new solutions to issues and new challenges, and answers to the questions that the whole world is asking. How do we bring the sustainable food options into use and make them available nationally and globally? What can each and everyone of us do individually to reach the greater good?

Jamk University of Applied Sciences organized a study tour to Åland with a group of Hospitality Management students who mainly specialize in Sustainable Gastronomy. The aim of the tour focused on the local sustainable food strategy and food culture as well as encouraged participants to activate their Swedish language skills. During the five-day-tour we got a sneak peak of what it truly means to be passionate and to have a “can do” attitude when it comes to living your dream on your own terms, and how it is possible to focus on business sustainability. The grass is not always greener on the other side but when it comes to Åland’s way of living and entrepreneurship, the visits to local farms and companies left very little room for guessing why they prefer to do things their own way. The main tour started with the ferry trips through Lappo slowly but surely ahead to Mariehamn.

The meaning of Sustainable Food Strategy

Did you know that 70 % of Finnish apples, 100 % of Finnish pears and 90 % of Finnish shallot onions are farmed in Åland? Milk produced in Åland has the best quality in whole of Europe and Åland produces 50 % of the Finnish farmed fish.

Kitchen manifesto sets the vision of what is somewhat a common goal to reach for. Within those 10 steps, it gives an insight of the once known habits, but what have been newly set in day-to-day use. Using local food products, preferring seasonal products, enjoying the unique flavors through agriculture, climate as well as aquaculture. The combination of new innovations with a mixture of old traditions is something worth being interested in and closely observed.

Sustainability of fish farming is a much debated issue in the Nordic countries. According to the Natural Resources Institute in Finland, the climate impact of the fish farming is lower when compared to imported farmed fish. During the tour we visited Brändo Lax and got an insight of the operations behind the scenes and how they consider sustainable and responsible perspectives in their own production.

Ambition, pride, courage and innovation are the ultimate ideas that the Åland tour reflects. Overall mind-set is reflected in choices when it comes to sustainability, it is not one choice to make but even more continuingly to follow the strategy behind the choices. Communication between customers and networks plays a big part of the outcome in one company’s point of view.

What are we when we are #axgan?

The terroir and merroiratlas for Åland pinpoints the frame over the usage of Åland’s land, sea, climate and profile Åland as a gastronomic region. If you are an apple or fish lover or just want to follow your dreams and create “new rules’ ’ for normal, the people in Åland are good at leading the way. The community is almost tangible and it inspires one another to put your best effort in as well and set higher goals for success. It is a reminder to not settle for less and work for your dreams. As an insight here are a few highlights from the places we visited during the tour. Each and everyone of the visits created a stronger belief in the sustainable way of entrepreneurship.

In the beginning of the tour we met Lena Brenner, an amazing developer from Åland rural development center, she gave an informative presentation of how it is all functions and divided, and at what cost. With the common goal of 15 different organizations, the rural development center focuses on improving the Sustainable Food Strategy to expand the possibilities that the sustainable food aspect could offer.

Anders Westerberg gave us an example of innovative methods to serve fish dishes. His passion for ingredients and the sea has inspired him to create an environment where he can be a free soul and have little to no limits. Öfvergårds entrepreneurs thanked us for helping them to live their dream. The apple farm has grown through the years and to celebrate #åland100 they planted 107 apple trees, one for each Finnish city in cooperation with VisitÅland. Delicious juice tasting with small snacks from local producers created an experience we will remember for a long time. As a product innovation they thought about what to do with the raw apples and created pickled apples as a new product to sell.

We cooked a tasty lunch with Smakby’s Michael Björklund and listened carefully his plans for close by future. Amalias limonad and Mercedes Chocolaterie proved what it means when you dream big and then build on what you envisioned. Passion for hand-made arts is something that can never be praised too much. The traditions are too often forgotten and it was a good reminder that there are always options to choose.

What could the rest of us learn from there?

Do it together. Have a dream. Be brave.

Greetings from Åland, written by Anne-Maria Raitio, Hospitality Management lecturer from Jamk.

List of the visited companies:

Sustainable food and drinks

  • Brändo Lax – https://www.brandolax.fi/
  • Åland Landsbygdcentrum – http://landsbygd.ax/
  • Västerro – http://vasterro.ax/
  • Öfvergårds – www.ofvergards.ax
  • Stallhagen –  www.stallhagen.com
  • Bostaholms Gård – www.bolstaholm.ax
  • Marskskogens lamm – http://marskogens.ax
  • Mattas Gårdmejeri – http://www.mattas.ax/
  • Smakbyn – http://smakbyn.ax/
  • Amalies Limonadfabrik – https://limonad.ax/
  • Mercedes chocolaterie – www.chocolaterie.ax

Sustainable accomodation

  • Pellas på Lappo – http://www.pellas.ax/
  • HavsVidden – https://www.havsvidden.com/fi

Anne-Maria Raitio works as a lecturer in Jamk’s Service Business degree programme. The ingredients that define whether a service experience are good or not are important to her – she especially finds the connections between service situations and meaningful interactions important.