The Swedish farmer who halved his greenhouse gas emissions by ditching dairy for oats
Cutting out the ‘middle cow’ also allowed Adam Arnesson’s farm to produce more food for more people and become more profitable than ever before. But friends, family and other farmers weren’t always on board. A healthier planet, he tells Andy Martin, is made of small steps, not revolutions
Nobody knows where the old Garden of Eden was. But the new Eden is in the middle of Sweden, amid forests, farmhouses, hills and lakes, two-and-a-half hours by road west of Stockholm. It isn’t exactly paradise, but it certainly comes close – and you get to drive a tractor.
The owner, Adam Arnesson, could do for farming what Greta Thunberg is doing for climate change. As I sit in the sun under a clear blue sky, on the terrace at the back of his wooden farmhouse, painted in the traditional deep red colour falu (laced with a pigment dug out of a copper mine), and gaze around at his fertile lands – a robot lawnmower is buzzing away placidly doing the mowing – I get to wondering if it isn’t too late to stop being a journalist and become a farmer instead.
The ironic thing is that Arnesson didn’t even set out to be a farmer. He thought he might do something with computers. “I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he says, serving up a pot of coffee and a plateful of chocolate. “But I knew that I didn’t want to be a farmer. You go to these meetings and you read the farming magazines and it’s depressing. Nothing but crisis. No future for young people.”