Skattungbykursen: An Experiment in Sustainable Living

Posted on February 22nd, 2013 by

This Wednesday the group took a trip to visit fellow Gustavus student Lesley Darling, who is currently studying organic cultivation and sustainable living through the Skattungbykurs provided by Mora Folkhögskola. The course takes place in the village of Skattung, about 35 minutes outside of Mora. It was begun in 1978 and many of the participants of former years now live in Skattungby. This creates a friendly community feeling in the village. About 23 students participate each year.

For the first weeks, the students have been learning to cook. They use their own garden-grown ingredients (potatoes, garlic, cabbage and such) for meals. They also learn how to preserve these vegetables for winter consumption. Lesley took us to the root cellar where we saw sacks upon sacks of potatoes, some of which will be planted this spring. There is no custodian or cook, instead, the management of the houses is all done by the students. They meet weekly to discuss how they will share household responsibilities and food. An event like hosting a guest speaker would also be student-planned.

When we arrived, the students were learning weaving. They have the opportunity to do other handicrafts as well, such as carding and spinning wool, knitting, and ceramics. There is a carpentry component to the course for those so inclined. The house where Lesley lives, for example, was built by students. The course is driven by individual interest, so each student can take the direction he or she would like. I was surprised to learn that each building is heated by an ongoing fire. The fire heats water, which brings heat through the floors. The buildings were actually so warm that we had to have some windows open when we were all together in the matsal, or dining area.

We were kindly invited to both fika and lunch (a tasty potato dish) where we were able to converse with the students, who were very interested to hear our impressions of Sweden.

We returned to school in time for another fika before our Swedish class in the afternoon. Our teacher Anna Aronson made it very clear, however, that this usually wouldn’t happen at the folkhögskola. Imagine having class right after a field trip! Besides, it was sunny outside and we should all be out there enjoying the weather. Because of our schedule, we had to have class that day, but it was a short one. Then we had time to get out in the sun. Supper was potatoes again, but in a new way. This remarkably prevalent tuber is much loved by the Swedes.


May pole in Skattungby

The May pole in Skattungby


The view from Skattungby

Flag pole in Mora

A flag pole in Mora under blue skies


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