A rose by many names…

Bengt Sven’s Farm, The Poor house (Fattiggården), The Municipality Farm (Kommungården) and now Johnsson’s Farm – our farm has had plenty of names during the last 150 years.

Naturally, this piece of land has been affected by the people who often have lived very hard lives here in Vare and everything has evolved around their set of directions. It’s a legacy to carry within and our thoughts often go back to the families who struggled here and gave their all.

Our journey starts around year 1900, when farmer Lars Albrektson sold his farm to Träslövs’ municipality. Prior to that he had worked hard to develop the farm and perhaps he put all his eggs in one basket. He had bought two farms next door, built a large barn, a windmill with a housing for the miller and most certainly he had a mental picture of what he wanted to accomplish. Unfortunately he was way ahead of his time and on top of that he went bankrupt after a fire in the front house (framhuset), then located in front of the existing hostel.

However Lars also had a large portion of luck. Around the turn of the century rotegången* would cease so the municipality was looking high and low for a suitable piece of land to build a poor house on. Lars, who at the time was a member of the board at Träslövs’ municipality, saw is opportunity to sell his farm and during that time there were no such thing as a public procurement. Nepotism ruled…

*Rotegång: was a system to support the poorest people in the farming community. The pauper went from farm to farm in a prearranged order. As part of a rotation these farms had shared obligation to give food and lodging to the pauper who then helped out on the farm.

 

So it was that the Bengt Sven’s Farm was sold to Träslöv’s municipality and year 1900 it became the Poor House for the whole neighborhood. The old people’s home was placed in the larger building that was built for the purpose and today it houses Anna’s Bed & Kitchen (previously Vare hostel).

 

Life on the farm went on – the old people worked for their food as much as they could but more than likely there were farmhands preforming the heavier jobs for some food and housing. There were some activities on the farm that we nowadays do in a completely different way. When the demented and “crazy” old people became unruly and loud they were looked in the basement. The “social department” had a large two story house where they put poor families who then worked at the farm for their living. Today the municipality pet cemetery can be found where that building once stood.

It’s hard not to feel the history when you walk around the farm…

A house for the farmhands were built in the 30’s by the windmill, next to the miller’s house (now burnt to the ground) and that house would later become the so called “framhus” (front house) and our home for many years. The care in the old people’s home developed – in a more humanitarian way – and in 1967, when Träslöv’s municipality incorporated with Varberg, all the old folks moved into the newly build Östergården in Varberg’s city center.

By then the municipality, who still owned the farm, needed to find a tenant for the large house. STF – Swedish Tourism Association – saw their opportunity to be a part of and develop the latest trend “turism”.

It’s around this time our own history begins. Håkan’s parents arrived to the farm 1954 as young leasers and they moved into the farmhand’s old residence. They worked the farm together with some staff and later on with their sons. The mother eventually became the new matron of the hostel. A position she held until 2013. And the farm’s new name became, the less imaginative, Kommungården (The Municipality Farm)

There were a lot of cows, bulls, young bulls, heifers, calves and pigs to look after, interspersed with the cereal work to produce food for all the animals and tourists. It was what we today call a 24/7 type of job, 365 days a year. The municipality sold the farm 1986 to the leasers however the name Kommungården remained unchanged among the villagers.

All the hard work and enterprising spirit has characterized the whole family, the farm and all that it has been able to extract. It has rarely been time for any length of rest – the driving force and stubbornness is part of life. Can it be done any other way?

We have a lot to thank the previous generation for. They laid the foundation to what we are now managing.

Håkan was the one who stayed at the farm and who together with his brother took it over in the 90’s. They extended with the latest technology in shape of a couple of milking robots, feeding machines to the calves and newly innovated multifunctional agricultural machinery.

Håkan and I moved in together in the farmhand’s residence in 1984 as his parents had built a new home just down the road from the farm and in 1996 we took over the whole farm, except for the hostel. During those 30 years we lived there, first as exuberant youths and later on as strained and engaged parents, the farm was always the midpoint – the center of our universe. There were no way we were going to move – a farmer needs to be where his animals are.

However after several years of drudgery and a shrinking profitability the brothers decided to close down their joint venture. The animals left the farm and last to leave were the bulls in 2012. A long era came to an end. A bit emotional for us all.

Now we are a middle-aged couple, we have moved from the farm and our children have (almost) all left the nest so now we are both exposing ourselves to new challenges. This is where Johnsson’s farm comes into the picture. Several coincidences have decided the road this challenge has taken – work, networking, luck and joy has created this opportunity that we have been served. Instead of the farm maturing and gets forgotten, we have now provided new opportunities for it and thereby the farm will continue its journey through our history – a history that is constantly being written by a humble hand and hammer.

/Eva-Lena Johnsson