A more rural närhetsliv

Photo Mats Engfors/Fotographic

When the stress became too much, Seija Fallemark left life in the city. Instead, she found a place in Svedjan, close to the animals and nature. “We can not live without the countryside,” she says.

Seija Fallemark was at the peak of her career and with a senior managerial job at Åhléns in Stockholm. But after eight years, the city life and stress became too great. The worst thing was the traffic, thought Seija, who had to drive slowly for 200 kilometers every day to get to work.

– Beign stuck in the queues was not fun, it was not. Feeling that the clock is ticking and I have to be on time, it was very stressful, she says.

So in 2006 Seija and her husband Sven-Inge bought a Norrbottensgård in Svedjan, just outside Unbyn. They continued to work in Stockholm for a while and commuted home to Svedjan on a weekly basis.

– Already on Friday night we put on our boots and went out into the woods. That released all the stress.
Seija was born in Kiruna and has lived in Luleå for many years, but this is where she found her home.

– We love it here. We like the place and the tranquility, after the stress in Stockholm. The best thing is the proximity to nature. I do not have to go anywhere to get a forest walk.

One with nature

Now the spouses live here full time, together with about 50 chickens, three goats and pigs, Linderödssvin to be exact.

– We have three hen houses out here and we just long to put the hens out again. We have a swing where you can sit and watch the chickens. It is very calming, says Seija.

The chickens were Sven-Inge’s idea, he thought it was part of living in this country. And when he turned 60, he got two pigs.

– And then I thought it was so fun so I thought we had to get a boar too, says Seija.
And that’s the way it was. Today, animals are as much Seija’s interest as her husband’s.

– You feel that you have a connection to nature and animals, that you are not shielded from it, you become one. It’s great to be with the animals, get quite a lot back actually.

Cooperation between farms

Now the 66-year-old Seija is retired on paper, but she still works full working weeks as a project manager for Route 616, together with colleague Monica Gotthold from Luleå municipality. The project is funded by the EU, the Swedish Board of Agriculture, and Spira Mare Leader. Most of the work is entirely voluntary.

– I am passionate about the countryside, that things happen here. If the countryside were to die, the city would not be able to live either, she says.

The purpose of the project is partly to increase cooperation between the villages and the contractors along the road between Rödberget and the intersection in Gäddvik, but also to start an increased food production for self-sufficiency.

– One goal is for even more entrepreneurs to start up, both small-scale agriculture and companies in the hospitality industry.

Seija serves coffee and flatbread with “heavenly salami” on the kitchen table.

– This collaboration. This is what we want to achieve and then we need to set a good example, she says. The meat in the sausage comes partly from the farm, partly from Britta-Karin Staffansdotter Jakobsson’s farm in Bälinge on the other side of the municipal border. Thanks to the project, many small-scale farms and entrepreneurs have found each other along the way, both within and outside the municipal boundaries.

A thriving countryside

– Many have not known each other. Today, people talk much more openly.

Since Route 616 was inaugurated in 2015, several new entrepreneurs have started up, there is a newsletter, the road has its own song and together the various farms have arranged Christmas lunches, farming meetings and courses in cheese making and sheep farming.

– It is almost as if we do not understand what we have managed to do, says Seija.

The project runs until 30 June 2019 and then it is the intention that the economic association, Route 616, will stand on its own two feet.

– We want the countryside to live. That you should be able to live in the country and also work here if you want to. #

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