Ida Holmström lives in the countryside with her family and her animals in Jeppo, Ostrobothnia. It’s a sunny day in February and we are meeting up with her for an interview. On the farm you can see traces of both cultivation and children. A cat lies in the straw in the greenhouse, which will become raised beds later in the spring, and peers at us for a while before deciding we are not worth a reaction. It also does shows no interest in the hens and cockerels that range around the farm, but closes its eyes and continues its nap. Inside the kitchen the coffee is percolating and a warm ambience pervades the fields – the forest is never far away. In the window, small plants peer upwards waiting for summer and a shelf holds a selection of products from Naturskafferiet (Nature’s Larder): soaps, dried herbs and spices.
Naturskafferiet is a young business, barely a year old, and came into being when Ida found the time and the opportunity to invest in what she been thinking and dreaming about for many years.
Her business conducts courses and arranges lectures on the use of herbs, on horticulture – and the power of the forest, focussing on the health-promoting effects of nature. She created a Facebook page linked to a course in artisanal food preparation which she participated in, and through this soon began to receive requests to organise courses herself. “In some ways, it shaped itself”, says Ida about starting up and growing her business. The start-up grant has allowed her to take time to build up the business.
If Ida had the opportunity to influence freely, she would make sure that everyone would spend more time in the forest and on the land, take it easy and, above all, don’t perform too much: “Take it a bit slower and really experience the forest”. “We should be able to do so. And the same when we get into the forest. We just have to perform”. Even if you don't have a mushroom basket with you, there is still the perception that in the forest, you have to perform. Or you have to take a photo while in the forest to get recognition from others. “It's great to leave your phone at home, especially if you’re not wearing a watch”, says Ida and laughs, “when you have a business, of course, you have to market yourself and post great pictures”. When Ida has customers in the forest, she guides them not to talk too much or to be on the phone. It is important to walk slowly enough and to stop and do some exercises when it suits. Just being quiet is a big thing. “We are so overstimulated,” says Ida.
Ida chooses to talk about the power of the forest – that’s what she thinks it’s all about, that is what the forest provides. Be in the forest in a different way so that you discover and see what nature holds. If you're in the great outdoors to help people discover the world of forests, you have to be sensitive to both people and the needs of the forest to make it a positive experience and make people happy to return to the forest. The forest is Ida's workmate, colleague, something that has an intrinsic value.
/Text & foto: Sara Kåll-Fröjdö & Maria Hofman-Bergholm, Yrkeshögskolan Centria, february 2020
You can read more about our visit to Ida here. (In Swedish)