From farm to fork in unity

The field abounds in vegetables. Photo: Anne-Lise Aakervik

Do you dream of sowing, growing and harvesting your own organic vegetables? Community Supported Agriculture is in the wind. Examples of this in Trøndelag include Medalhus Andelslandbruk, just a 20-minute drive from Trondheim.

Andelslandbruk (literally “shared farming”) is the Norwegian term for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). It’s local, healthy, fun and not least an important link in farmer Astrid Sæther’s circle of sustainability. 

“It won’t be proper until the circle is complete,” says Astrid Sæther, standing in the middle of the field among celery, cherry tomatoes, raspberries and beans, to mention but a few examples.

Astrid Sæther er driftig eier og driver av Medalhus Andelslandbruk. I år vokser det 130 forskjellige sorter ute på åkeren og i drivhuset.
Astrid Sæther is an enterprising owner and operator of Medalhus Andelslandbruk. This year, 130 different crops are growing in the field and the greenhouse. Photo: Anne-Lise Aakervik

When Astrid talks about the circle, she means that virtually everything they need on the farm is made here. Their farm, Melhusgården Øvre, has Norway’s largest suckler herd of Røros cows and coloursided Troender and Nordland cattle. This means that they can produce their own organic fertiliser, which is in turn used for growing vegetables, potatoes, grain and grass. “We purchase a minimal amount and all production on the farm is organic,” says Astrid with obvious enthusiasm and pride.

Melhusgård Øvre is situated between the village of Melhus and Melhus church, close to the old E6 highway. Astrid owns and operates the farm together with Halfdan Stendahl.

“I have always wanted to produce food without adding anything artificial. All the animals graze in the mountains during the summer to nurture the cultural landscape. They choose what they eat, and the varied green diet provides good animal health.”

Driving force

A passion for the Røros cow, extreme willpower and a curiosity to test new things and varieties are among the qualities that have helped Astrid succeed, not to mention her frequent and rippling laughter. Listening to Astrid puts you in a good mood.

Consequently, when she was asked about contributing land for shared farming, she responded positively. Medalhus Andelslandbruk was founded as a cooperative society in 2013 with the members responsible for operating it along with a gardener. Since 2019, it has been run by the farmers. For the 150 members, Astrid is a steady mentor, planner, inspirer and humour spreader.

Exploratory gardener

Thanks to Astrid’s creativity and eagerness to test new edible plants, the vegetable field features almost 130 different crops ranging from berries and many different spices to root vegetables, beans and tomatoes.

Hvitløk rett fra åkeren!
Garlic straight from the field. Photo: Anne-Lise Aakervik

“This year, I have even tried planting a cornfield,” says Astrid, who has now taken the time to sit down on the corner sofa in the large greenhouse, which houses even more plants. “During the springtime, I hardly get to come in here,” she laughs. “There are so many trays of freshly sewn seeds and small plants to plant in the field.”

The greenhouse has a curved roof and is well placed in relation to the yard and the other two buildings. “We got it for free from Ekra Gartneri in exchange for pulling it down and cleaning the area where it stood,” says Astrid. “It’s a beautiful greenhouse with a curved roof. It was a bit of a toil to assemble, but we got there in the end,” she says, shaking her head while recalling the hard work. “But it was worth the effort because it’s now very lush in here.”


Inside the greenhouse, Eva Aagesen from Trondheim is busy cutting yellow leaves off the tomato plants along the wall. She has been a member for three years and really enjoys participating.

“I never imagined that it would be so nice to be here,” she says during a break. “My 12 hours of volunteer work each year go in a flash. I like working in the greenhouse. It’s like meditation. The vegetables taste so wonderful, and I know the whole process from seed to edible vegetable.”

Astrid plans and advises the cooperative society. She sends out a newsletter each week about what needs to be done and what can be harvested. “We can come when it suits, which is often in my case since I retired,” says Eva Aagensen with a smile.

Eva Aagesen er en av de 150 andelsmedlemmene som bidrar med arbeidskraft. Belønningen er å fylle kasser med ferske og gode grønnsaker å ta med hjem.
Eva Aagesen is one of the 150 cooperative members who contribute with volunteer work. The reward is boxes of delicious, fresh vegetables to take home. Photo: Anne-Lise Aakervik


Coming here to pick fresh vegetables to take home is pure luxury for member Lars Uthaug. He runs Melhus Bakery and is the man behind the biscuit Ølsprøtt, which has the remnants of beer brewing as an additive. Consequently, he knows a thing or two about sustainability.

“This is a win-win for all parties,” he says as he pulls a fennel plant out of the ground and sniffs the scent of liquorice. He then fills his basket with kale, chard, garlic and radishes.

Det bugner i åkeren. Grønnkålen kan plukkes, det samme med mangold. Her høster Lars Utseth til dagens middag.
The field abounds in vegetables. The kale can be picked, as can the chard. Lars Utseth picks vegetables for today’s dinner. Photo: Anne-Lise Aakervik

Astrid Sæther has more than the CSA to take care of. Grain, grass and potatoes are also grown on the farm, and they have cattle, calves and bulls to supervise during the summer. Most of the animals are grazing in the mountains and on uncultivated land in Klæbu and Selbu, while two are having a summer holiday at Sverresborg Museum this year. “My cattle belong to one of the six preservation-worthy old cattle breeds we have in Norway. This breed originally belonged here in Trøndelag, so they fit in extremely well at the museum,” she says with rippling laughter.

Astrid is extremely concerned about animal welfare.

“I want to have livestock that can withstand being visited 24/7,” she says.

It’s no secret that she loves cows. She calls out to the bull Jasper, who jogs to her like a dog. He and the other two bulls will soon be sent for slaughter.

“But they have spent two lovely, long summers grazing before that happens,” she assures us.

This makes the farm a great place to be for people and animals alike.


Written by Anne-Lise Aakervik

More about andelslandbruk (Community Supported Agriculture)

There are currently several cooperative farms in Trøndelag. They are all different in terms of cultivation and membership. Information about all the places can be found at Andelslandbruk

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