Finally I’m back to what I call “the farm” or “my mum’s farm” for my summer job. This will be the third summer I work here. A brilliant way for someone with my lifestyle to be close to family while earning much money after all (and before the next) traveling, besides doing something meaningful.
The farm is actually not my mum’s, nor is it just a farm, but a rehab institution that my mum happens to manage. She has now lived here for over 10 years, and it’s pretty much impossible to me (and her) to even imagine anything else. She is perfect for this place and such an inspirational person in terms of her compassion. So are many of the others working here, and the ideology of the institution. It belongs to a foundation called Stiftelsen Sollia kollektivet in Norwegian (read more here if you understand Norwegian).
Sollia kollektivet was founded in 1970, and is partly private, partly state owned. Translated from Norwegian, the cornerstone of the foundation is Equality in work, responsibility and economy. An important principle is self- sufficiency to both provide economical empowerment and empowerment of the students that learn a whole lot of agronomy and construction work.
As you can see its location is breathtakingly beautiful. Surrounded by huge fields and other small and medium sized farms and the best of it all: Norway’s biggest lake Mjøsa. Every time I come back here, whatever season, the smell overwhelms me the very moment I get off the bus on top of the road. Sometimes I almost start weeping, but out of joy. It’s a mix of feelings of ‘home’, the joy of being close to my mum again, the beauty and meaning of the jobs that are done here, the excitement of seeing the students (the people living here due to substance addiction) after yet another journey of mine, having them sharing from their lives with trust and openness.
The ideology of meaningful community work and consequent enforcement of drug prohibition have been basic since the foundation’s commence. Here we work together as equals, treat each others with respect and interest – in order for the students (and others of course) to improve their lives and grow.
The farm is 100% ecological and 50% self sustained. We grow several types of vegetables and fruits and got our own animals that provide us with eggs, meet and wool. Products like milk and cheese, coffee and tea, and on occasions meet, as well as ingredients to make bread and desserts are bought in weekly.
Every day we eat three meals together, which on good summer days often looks like this:
Part from offering substance addicts rehabilitation and therapy, the foundation requires that the “students” work from the day they arrive. Until 8 students and 7 employees work together every day from 8- 16 (part from the weekends where one student is in charge of the animals and one worker in charge of transport and general contact with everybody), and are divided in two groups; one in the kitchen and one outdoor in the garden, fields and with maintenance. Who works where rotate from month to month to make sure everybody get to practice all tasks.
My friends often ask me what I’m doing while here, and the answers are “hanging out with the students, chatting and doing everything together from:
to picking berries
and checking on our sheep herd up in the hill
feeding our rabbits
coping with pranks…
and inventing pranks..
To me the best about the farm is its peace and location, it is a perfect place to stop and think for a while, far away from other things I give importance in life. When I’m here it’s like the world outside is put on hold. It’s easier to be present and to pay attention to other people’s best interest rather than my own. Besides, it is a gift to be let in to the students’ life histories, dreams and self-development, and I’m humbly aware of how time here means empowering self-development for me too.
Here there is plenty of time for walks in the forest…
and do yoga on the beach.. 🙂
playing with my family
having visitors from abroad
taking the boat out ‘to sea’…
Enough said! As you understand I can’t wait to suck in another 4 weeks here.