Smallholding in Switzerland:
I am a 23 year old ‘mad cat woman’ attempting to live a little greener. I started living in my family home in rural Suffolk, UK and now currently in a small apartment in Switzerland. I have been living in the Berner Oberland canton of Switzerland since April 2012 since getting a job in an International guiding centre. I have settled in with my boyfriend to the Swiss rural life. Whilst here I am trying to continue to be more self-sufficient-minus a garden. Therefore, we have a window garden containing any plant from Basil to mixed salad leaves-saves us heaps of Swiss Francs!
What I have discovered about our area of Switzerland is that all families live closer to the land. We live in Adelboden, an Alpine village situated high up in the mountains and most families have some land or livestock to care for as well as continuing their regular jobs. For example, our neighbours spend time cutting and storing their hay on Saturdays-we have been lucky enough to help with this-very different to harvest in the UK-particularly when I was so used to a Suffolk Harvest. They use a mixture of old and modern machinery and get some funding from the government to maintain the land. Additionally, dairy farming is of course very popular here-both cattle and goats. We have seen the dairy calendar change month by month-at the start of every summer the farmers lead the cattle up the mountains to higher, tastier pastures and return them in early autumn. What I do admire is that each family seem to own a little land and between 4-20 livestock-everyone seems to have the chance to participate in some form however small. I have tried AlpKase (cheese) produced by the local cattle; and it is the best cheese-strong tasting like Cheddar but hard like Parmesan. Having studied Countryside Management at college I have relished the chance to experience first-hand how another country produces its food and often on a small, local scale.
Whilst living out here we have tried to continue to be self-sufficient albeit without any land-here is a girl who is used to living on a rural farm with my own hens, veg patch and who enjoys preserving huge quantities of glut fruit with my dad back home in England. We have made the most of it here by recycling, composting, growing window veg, keeping up with smallholding news from the UK and being members of WWOOF UK (world-wide opportunities on organic farms). We hope to try our first WWOOF experience in October this year in South West England. Moreover, we are missing our manic tom cat Podge so he is travelling to Switzerland to join us later this year. Lastly, we may have a chance to get closer to the smallholding dream as our new landlords have said we could keep a few bantams on their land so watch this space!
I have just started up a blog about the trials and successes of trying to live a little greener regardless of where we are living-including herb growing and cooking using local Swiss recipes. It would be great to hear news from others and share ideas. The site is www.facebook.com/TheGoodLifeInPractice
Article for Country Smallholding Magazine November 2012