Between Farum and Birkerød, in the hilly landscape just north of Greater Copenhagen, lies an old farmhouse from 1895, home to Ross and Heather Jackson. Any comparison with a conventional farm stops there, as within the whitewashed walls of the house, and in the compost pile and converted farm buildings, the seeds of ideas are raised, nurtured and realized.
TRACK – art exhibition
The latest venture for Duemosegaard (Duesøgården) is an art exhibition in spacious white premises with a view over crisp winter fields and hedgerows. Christina Bardram (painting) and Finn Dam Rasmussen (ceramics) are currently showing their artworks at an exhibition called ‘SPOR’. The title of the exhibition refers to the indistinct remnants of the past that both artists characterize their works – the surface markings and traces that the viewer can interpret in a hundred ways, but which can also present themselves as minimalist contemplations in form, texture and colour. Both are professional artists with a following in Denmark and abroad. This time, Bardram is exhibiting both his minimalist oil paintings and detailed watercolours, Rasmussen his very sculptural ceramics, which is also a favorite of Noma restaurant. The gallery at Duemosegaard is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11.00-16.00 until 17 February. Or by appointment contact the gallery via email@example.com or 5150 3099.
The owners of Duemosegaard have a strong connection to these meditative, confident works of art with their homage to the past and vision for the future. I visited unannounced during normal opening hours and was warmly welcomed by Heather Jackson, who is responsible for the elegant showrooms and marketing at Duemosegaard. Originally from the UK, having previously worked as an artist and designer in Paris, our host and her dog expertly showed me around the artwork and then treated me to a staggeringly good organic apple cake (her third release, a vegetarian cookbook tentatively titled ‘A Year on Duemosegaard’, is underway!) and explained a little more about the background of this unusual place. The dog led the way and we walked the frozen ground inspecting the 19 hectares dedicated to regenerative life, remarkable vegetables and visions for a better future for the planet.
Reign of ‘Terroir’
Agriculture takes up more than 60 percent of Denmark’s land area. Biodiversity is threatened, and resource consumption is among the highest in the world. Back in the 1970s, just a drive through the blooming Danish countryside in summer would leave the windscreen sprayed with insects. Today the glass is clean. Everything is sterile, the food chain broken by land use and overuse of pesticides. For 12 years, 4,000 m2 of the agricultural land at Duemosegaard has been dedicated to Fælles Grønt, where 25 local families have been invited to participate in planning, enrichment, planting, care and harvesting of ‘biodynamic’ products. Biodynamic farming follows the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and his organic theories about the wonders of fertilizer, the Moon, no pesticides and a touch of hocus pocus. The fruits, vegetables and community raised on the (now) fantastic land have much more intense flavours, textures and colors than conventionally raised produce. Although the vegetable gardens look quite ‘cabbagey’ at the end of January, we inspected the wonders of the darkened root cellar, with boxes neatly stacked with potatoes, celeriac, beetroot, pumpkins, more cabbage, parsnips and – love. The families who farm the land with Ross and Heather Jackson are an eclectic and warm-hearted bunch who enjoy working together and growing food in a regenerative way. At present, there is room for four new members (including their families) to the group – the only requirement is that 40 hours of work be done in the field or barn over the year, and a fee of DKK 1,800 is paid for seeds, equipment and plants. There are also plans to create more biodiversity and natural habitats on the rest of the land for local wildlife, and to start farming the land using the ‘No Plow’ and ‘Forest Gardening’ principles.
The roots of this eco-friendly place were firmly planted in the 1980s by Ross Jackson and his ex-wife Hildur with the foundation of the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN). Jackson was ahead of his time in recognizing the fragile state of our exposed planet, and the need to care for the earth itself instead of running headlong into a world poisoned by the toxic capitalist attitude of progress at any cost—especially in terms of the natural world. Today, GEN is an information network that uses educational programs, newsletters and knowledge shared among the thousands of projects worldwide that build and live in small intentional communities in harmony with nature.
An economist and successful businessman, physicist by training and Canadian by birth, Jackson co-founded Simcorp, which today is a leading global financial software company. He was also the main shareholder in Urtekram, Scandinavia’s largest organic food wholesaler. From the 1980s onwards, Jackson dedicated much of his time, colossal intellect and organizational skills to structuring GEN and its sister organization Gaia Education via the Gaia Trust, a Danish-based charitable entity formed in 1987 to promote a more sustainable world. These days, Jackson is writing his seventh book, while his wife breathes life into the old farm buildings. The book is nearing completion and focuses on the future of the world economy and the need to urgently remedy the economy’s failures in dealing with climate change and inequality.
Out of the box and into a war zone
GEN really took off during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when eco-villages across Europe came together to help displaced refugees fleeing destruction. While conventional aid agencies waited at closed borders, the Ukrainian network of ecovillages rallied with their European counterparts and provided much-needed food, shelter and medical supplies within three days. Last year, the Duemosegaard Conversations (the Duemosegaard Conversations – a series of talks given on the farm by movers and shakers in sustainability and environmentalism) was a live presentation by some young Ukrainian volunteers who have been active in organizing and distributing supplies and expertise to their war-torn homeland through proactive networks and initiatives of eco-villagers in Ukraine and across Europe, where the bottom line is that the free-thinkers who live in eco-villages have never lived in boxes. When disaster strikes, these are the kind of people who take the lead.
Love and peace
Ross and Heather Jackson are a lovely couple, and just got married last summer at one of the smaller lakes on the farm surrounded by friends, family and supporters from all over the world and from all walks of life. Although of different ages and backgrounds, these two are united in protecting and nurturing TRACKS – the traces of the natural world through art, economics and regenerative living. As I walked away from the yard that cold January day past the rows of kale and last year’s sunflowers, I felt a sense of hope rise that there might be a way forward for the planet through action and implementing a more thoughtful way. to be.
Go visit; go and be inspired!
Source: The Nordic Page