October 1, 2020 A taste of Nordic food and nature

Talking with Jon Fredrik Skauge, Dairy Farmer to the Stars

In between the mountains and fjords of southern Trøndelag sits a homey dairy farm full of history and probably the best sour cream on the planet.

Jon Fredrik Skauge owns and operates his family’s dairy farm, Fannremsgården, in the small town of Orkdal about an hour’s drive outside of Trondheim. He supplies dairy products to Credo, a storied restaurant that just earned its first Michelin star as well as the sustainability award for the Nordics in 2019.

We visited Jon Fredrik at his farm to learn about his operation (which also features a costuming component) and taste all the farm had to offer.

The history of the farm

We don’t know how old the farm is, but there have been some archaeologist findings proving that people have been here for over 2,000, at least the land has been used for agriculture for that long. The farmhouse is over 100 years old; the building was in another place before, but moved to where it’s situated now in the 1890s.

My great great grandfather, who had the same name as me, came here in 1856. I grew up here with my grandparents and was raised to take over the farm, which I did about six years ago after my father died. My father used the inventions of the 20th century, and had built quite a modern farm, but when I grew up I was never really interested in that kind of farming.

Changes he’s made

When I inherited the farm I started putting my resources, ideas, and skills into the farm, mostly from my perspective as a historian. I use my knowledge on how farming has been done traditionally so that I can show people today that this is maybe the most sustainable way that farming can be done. That way, I’m also preserving the methods and the knowledge about the products — the conservation methods — and show people the real taste of natural butter and real cream.

There were no crops when I inherited this farm, and we have a lot of those now. My father was trying to raise pigs at a very big scale, and that was a totally different way of running a farm, so we don’t do that anymore. I was lucky to grow up at the farm and learned a lot from my grandmother, and we’ve always been raising meat and preserving food.

What he’s producing

The main focus is on the dairy products. We get milk from the cows every day then we make sour cream, and from the sour cream we make butter. Besides that we sell some meat that comes from the cows and we raise some sheep that we sell along with fresh eggs. We grow a variety of veggies, potatoes, berries oats, and of course grass and hay for the animals.

We make products that we serve ourselves at the farm, but we also provide other restaurants with food.

Relationship with Credo

Five years ago I met Heidi Bjerkan from Credo, and we immediately had really good chemistry. We found that we could share some of my knowledge of how to make food the traditional way, and she has the knowledge of how to use the products in a modern cuisine.

The last five years she has bought most of the sour cream we’ve been making, but also a lot of the other products as well. Heidi’s knowledge has influenced me and has given me inspiration to improve my skillset; it’s a symbiotic relationship that has brought my view of farming to a new level.

Serving meals at the farm

I try to use all the resources at the farm, so sour cream and butter is naturally a big part of that. Buttermilk is a leftover of the butter production, so we use a lot of this in sauces and other things. This shows people that you can use everything from a production, and increase your output as well as sustainability.

We had a meal here with 23 chefs from all over the world who were gathered at an assembly called Cook It Raw two years past, and we served a dessert of buttermilk ricotta, more like a pudding.

In the storehouse, I try to preserve the meat the way it has been done for hundreds of years. We produce very typical cured meats and sausages. My oldest set is five or six years old now; I really like to let the guests feel the taste and feel of this ham, and how it’s so different from the ham at the grocery store.

What he hopes visitors take away from the farm

I’d like for people to have a stronger feeling of how important small-scale farming is so that my guests can have an influence on modern society, and
that they understand that it’s not just to preserve the old methods, but also to show that modern farming can be done in a more sustainable way.

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