Photos: Gangstad Gård
The norms in tourism are slowly changing; more and more people look to experience authentic food, drink, culture and nature activities in a way that leaves the smallest footprint on their surroundings, while also getting the most out of their time
The term sustainable tourism has been used with increasing frequency in Norway over the past 15 years, with a three-fold increase in experiential travel, and an increase in accommodation of 75% across the board. Norway, with its beautiful nature, culture and authentic experiences, hosts both native and international tourists who seek unique experiences: regional food, contact with locals, overnight stays at farms, pilgrim wandering, bicycling vacations and berry picking, to name but a few.
Trøndelag tourism is responsible for a substantial part of the increase in value creation, and experiential travel is the fastest growing sector. Røros, Stjørdal and Inderøy are among the most well established spots for sustainable tourism in Trøndelag. So The List decided to take a closer look at Inderøy, a peninsula in the Trondheim fjord, and more specifically The Golden Road which traverses it.
The Golden Road (‘Den Gyldne Omvei’ in Norwegian) is a detour from the E6 main road, what is reflected in direct translation: The Golden Detour. You will find around 20 local producers there, who work closely together to offer unique experiences in local food, culture and activities. The Golden Road lies approximately one and half hours from Trondheim. If you are not in a car, you can get there by taking a train to Røra and then cycle The Golden Road.
Cycling is a great way to travel green and immerse yourself in The Golden Road experience. Bring or rent a bike and ride around from farm to farm, meet the locals, eat and drink from local producers, and shop around the booths full of handmade items.
The List has been so fortunate as to get a glimpse into Gangstad Gårdsysteri, one of the many splendid stops to make during your time on The Golden Road. Gangstad Gårdsysteri is owned and run by Astrid Aasen and Perry Frøysadal. Astrid humbly, yet confidently, shared some info on their success in cheese production (and more) since 1998.
What was the underlying motivation when Gangstad Gårdsysteri was started in 1998?
We wanted to increase the value creation on the farm, and create more profits from the dairy production. Our aim was also to create more jobs in the local community.
What has been the biggest contribution to your success?
We have an 11 million kroner turnover a year, where 20% of the revenues come from our own farm shop, and the rest comes from sales in other stores and catering establishments in Norway. The way it works for us, is that customers and visitors come to us on the farm. Here they get to see the production, they see how we make things, and they get to taste it, then and there. The farm functions as our marketing in itself; we spend no time on additional marketing.
The customer develops a relationship to our products while being here, and so they go out to the stores and create a demand for our cheese and products. The stores then contact us, and as of today we have a waiting list.
What does it give you in your day to day, personally, to have built up the farm in this way?
There are a lot of positives, and also things that we have to learn to live with. To start with the best parts, it is that we created more jobs in our local community, and the farm has gotten a solid economic foundation. It has been important that the farm has become well economically equipped for the future, and still is. This stability has also made my son, with his family, want to take over.
We meet a lot of nice people, and we are appreciated. In addition, we get to talk with the city-dwellers that come out here to the farm! We get to give them a realistic insight into the everyday, and they get a better understanding of what it is like to live this life; a farming life.
This is important to us, because many people are biased. An example is when they see the large houses here, and think that large buildings are the same as wealth. They don’t yet understand what it means to have old farm houses. It’s a lot of work, with economic challenges and maintenance to keep things in good condition and in use. We have a unique opportunity to give this insight when they come to us in our farmyard.
That is when we get to explain that we have made conscious, strategic choices so that the farm will be well economically equipped for the future, by creating additional feet to stand on. We are no longer entirely dependent on the dairy price.
If we would have run the farm as we used to, just the two of us, there would be one man here. Now there are eight full-time positions in the cheese factory and two full time positions on the farm. We are a lot more people, and it is a very pleasant working environment.
What we in addition have to learn to live with, is that from May through September, it is impossible to have privacy here on the farm. It is impossible to be home on the farm and have time off, cause it will be teeming with people here in the farmyard. So you lose your private life, but that is the price you pay to succeed with this, and so we prefer to find solutions that makes this work.
The farm is well economically equipped for the future, but that doesn’t mean that we will now lie back and rest on what we have built. We are now investing hard, and thus we have to increase production by 50%. There are big tasks ahead to defend the choices we have made, for the next generation to take over and increase production and operations. We have tripled the square footage on the farm with a new building, and to defend the new debt we have to increase sales, and increase production. It is a lot of work, but it is what we have chosen.
This is one among many success stories along The Golden Road, and they are all eager to offer you their best, unique experiences in food, drink, culture and activities. You know where it is, you know how to get there and you know what you want. Even if you don’t know, the open road is calling you, so what are you waiting for?
Like it says on The Golden Road’s website www.dgo.no:
“It takes 12 minutes to drive the E6 between Røra and Vist. The Golden Road takes 8 minutes more…. Or a day, a week, a whole summer, a whole life…”