John och Gunilla Mattsson
”GMO-free area” a big sign on the fence says, and then you know you have arrived in the right place: here the organic farmers Gunilla and John Mattsson live. John’s parents Stig and Shirley belonged to the group of pioneers who started organic farming in the beginning of the 1980s. Back then people were still skeptical, but today their green logo is a self-evident part of the vegetable selection in the supermarkets.
Gunilla has her roots in Eckerö but was brought up in Stockholm. She was only 15 when she met John, and a couple of years later she moved to Eckerö for good. Together they took over the farming in 1999.
- – It was a change-of-generation, nothing more. It felt good that the farming was organic, for both the children’s and the nature’s sake. Nowadays people are more aware of what organic farming means and the demand is higher.
John and Gunilla grow in total 32 hectares, seven hectares consist of potatoes, ten of grain, one of carrots, parsnip, and white cabbage. The rest is for grass cultivation. The working year follows its own cycle. When the first rays of sun show in spring it is especially John who starts with the harrowing, furrowing, sowing, setting, and planting. During summer both of them are out in the fields, watering and weeding. The youth of Eckerö often help by working for them.
– In the fall we harvest, everything must up from the ground. We also start selling then. We pack and deliver 1-2 days of the week to schools, kindergartens, stores, and retirement homes.
Wednesdays we deliver, Mondays and Thursdays I call customers and take orders, which means our work is not only physical, it also consists of office work. In winter a lot of time goes to packing and sorting. In a time when the interest for organic and locally produced food is increasing in Åland, there is a big chance you might eat something from the Mattsson’s organic farm this summer. They also eat and enjoy what they have produced. It cannot get more local than that.
– It’s wonderful to be able to pick almost everything you need for a barbeque from your own home; unsprayed new potatoes, salad, and herbs. Only the meat is missing. The couple enjoys the occasional shopping tour to Stockholm, but it is always nice to return home to Eckerö.
– I like the peace and quiet, and the closeness to water. In summer many people come and go here, and the stillness in winter is nice variation. You feel safe here: everybody knows everyone, everything is close by, and the children can run freely in the evenings.