The planet we love and need is in the grip of a climate emergency. From record high temperatures to ...
OSTRA GOINGE, SKANE, SOUTHERN SWEDEN, SWEDEN
A host of cultural, culinary and conservation points of interest await visitors to the Wanås Estate in Sweden. Alongside the medieval castle is an organic farm, a sculpture park, an art gallery, and, new to 2017, the Wanås Restaurant Hotel. Besides from sharing the same rambling forest in South Sweden, these elements are all connected by a mutual respect for nature and environmental consideration. Conservation of the estate’s natural habitats has been as careful as the restoration of historic buildings, which are some of the best preserved in Skane. The estate attracts up to 80,000 visitors every year, creating a unique platform for cultural exchange.
Sustainable management underpins everything at Wanås, which is home to Northern Europe’s largest organic farm, is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and is an EU Wildlife Estate. Over the last 20 years, Wanås has successfully created 15 ponds; an important habitat for ducks, partridges and pheasants. The not-for-profit Wanås Foundation has been running Wanås Konst (Wanås Art) since 1987; more than 200 contemporary artists have run installations or displayed sculptures, and the permanent art collection comprises of nearly 50 works. Wanås Konst contributes to the local economy through employment and drawing tourists to the region and its educational activities have reached approximately 6,000 children.
Just as the hotel’s interiors are based on simple, local materials like wood, stone and leather, the food has a seasonal and Nordic farm-to-table ethos. Wanås Restaurant sources as much produce as possible from the estate itself. The surrounding forests are teeming with produce including game, mushrooms and berries and the farm delivers organic meat, vegetables and climate-certified milk.
Wanås joined The Long Run in 2011 and committed to a holistic balance of the 4Cs – Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce – as a means to contribute meaningfully to the biodiversity and the people of their local region.
Wanås is truly committed to conservation and is regarded as one of the European Union’s Wildlife Estates. True to this label, Wanås has, for over a century, been running its estate according to sustainability principles informed by its belief that running a successful business goes hand in hand with a keen sense for environmental stewardship. Compounded by the fact that it is a family business, ensuring the preservation of its natural surroundings for posterity is at the heart of its philosophy.
Since its inception, Wanås has been keen to comply with both national and international standards of best practice in environmental sustainability. Since 1999, the forests on its premises have been certified by both the Swedish Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Promoting Sustainable Forest Management (PEFC) bodies. Its organic farm is also certified and controlled under the KRAV, a body that develops organic standards and is a recognised label in Sweden for sustainably and organically grown farm produce.
Habitat restoration also forms a key part of the conservation actives at Wanås. This is centred on the restoration of natural lakes in the area which gradually disappeared as a result of the draining programmes initiated in the area in the early 1930’s. Over the last 20 years, Wanås has successfully set up 15 ponds for wildlife and conservation purposes thus providing favourable conditions for the key species on its conservation list – Waterfowls, Partridge and Pheasant – to thrive. To ensure a healthy diversity in plant species, Wanås strictly prohibits monoculture of spruce and pine, and aims to attain a 20% cover of broadleaved tree species in the forest it manages.
Never tiring of strengthening its conservation efforts, The Wanås Foundation joined the Svanenklubben – the environmental certification available to Swedish cultural institutions – in 2009. As a member, The Wanås Foundation commits to ecologically sustainable purchasing habits as well as the to the continual environmental education for its staff and guests, the latter who receive discounted entrance fees for taking such green actions as arriving at Wanås via public means.
Wanås is located in Östra Göinge in the region of Skåne in the south of Sweden. Östra Göinge is a small municipality with approximately 13,500 inhabitants. The area is rural and the main employers in the area have traditionally been in factories. Of the few art organisations in the municipality, Wanås is the only one that is recognised internationally and has effectively become a significant tourist attraction and foreign exchange earner for the area. The Wanås staff, both of the Wanås Foundation and of Wanås Estate, consists predominantly of people living in the local area, holding both skilled and unskilled positions.
The Wanås Foundation has also established an educational program that caters to approximately 6000 children every year. In 2011, the focus has been to expand this programme to cover children of with mental or physical disabilities. By building a network of like-minded organisations and schools, Wanås is steadily working toward achieving its goal of becoming an all-inclusive hub for outdoor education activities.
In a bid to cultivate the arts among children and youth, Wanås often hosts local kindergartens, primary schools, high schools, and universities for guided tours of the farm and art exhibitions. This privilege is also extended to the general public, which largely consists of locals.
The Wanås Castle, first owned by Squire Eskild Aagesen (around 1440), has one of the most fascinating histories of all of Skåne’s stately homes. It was the centre of the Danish resistance during the Snapphane wars. In order to preserve this rich history, Wanås continually restores the historical buildings on its premises and takes great care to maintain their appearance according to ancient drawings. It promotes the local history and culture of the area by providing the public access to these historical sites (stables and barns from the 18th and 19th century) that contain exhibitions, meeting rooms, a shop, and a café. One of the stables contains an educational historical exhibition about the Castles and the Estate.
As a contemporary arts organisation, Wanås provides the perfect platform for intercultural exchange as it attracts around 70,000 visitors annually. The Wanås Foundation regularly hosts exhibitions with regional artists and also works with neighbouring schools and invites local children, teenagers, and teachers to develop and participate in workshops at Wanås. It further provides an avenue for local artisans to sell their wares through its shop which it stocks mainly with local products (designs, handicraft, art, clothes, toys, food etc).
The major commercial activities at Wanås include the production of organic and climate certified milk, forestry, controlled hunting as well as organic meat production. The Wanås Foundation is a non-profit organization but supplements donor support through the sale of books and art works, charging admission fees, guided tours and conferences.
What it earns on the commercial side, it ploughs back to its many community development, conservation and cultural initiatives. It also provides entrepreneurial opportunities for local communities through its shop where it gives local farmers and artisans the opportunity to sell their sustainable range of products.