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I have fetched bundles of different cut flowers
from the large organic market garden
Grennessminde 20 km outside Copenhagen.

From HÅNDVÆRK bookazine no. 4 the plant-based issue

published March 2021

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The flowers are arranged in vases from Iittala’s Savoy series, designed by Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) in 1936 for one of Finland’s big, historical glass manufacturers, Karhula. They were presented at the World Fair in Paris in 1937 and led to Aalto’s international breakthrough as an industrial designer. With their organic forms inspired by nature, the vases have long since attained iconic status. Although the shapes of the vases produced today are not as soft as in the original design, they are still really beautiful.

For many years, Aalto’s Savoy series has been mouth-blown at Iittala in Finland. According to the factory, the making of a vase involves 7 craftspeople, 12 steps, 1100° C and 10 hours.

The healing power of nature

In the middle of the pandemic shutdown, I recall a small exhibition I saw a few years ago at Designmuseum Danmark. It described Aalto’s fundamental philosophy and focused in particular on his design of Paimio Sanatorium in Finland, which opened in 1933. Paimio, which is a principal work of modernist architecture, was originally designed as a sanatorium for people with tuberculosis. During the interwar years, tuberculosis was a highly prevalent and often deadly disease. The mantra at Paimio was light, fresh air and cleanliness, and when recovery was not an option, there was always symptom relief. Among the facilities were the sun balconies, where the patients could recline and rest with a view of nature.

Fortunately, tuberculosis is now a thing of the past, at least on the industrialzed Western world, and in the early 1960s Paimio was converted to use as a general hospital. Since 2014, the former sanatorium has served as a rehabilitation centre for children.

10 Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) 11 Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) 12 Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) 13 Madam butterfly (Antirrhinum majus) 14 African marigold (Tagetes erecta) 15 Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) 16 Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) 17 Zinnia (Zinnia elegans) 18 Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)


Based on Green Care principles, Grennessminde offers specially tailored three-year education programmes to young people with various special needs.

Green Care is an international concept with methods for social support, therapy, rehabilitation and personal development based on the healing power of contact with nature, animals, gardens and agriculture.

The core element of all Green Care activities is that this contact with plants, animals and nature is healthy and healing for everybody. This is borne out by research.

Working with animals and plants, for example in agriculture, offers unique aspects, including a growing capacity for collaboration and contact with other people and the continuous development of skills and abilities.

Green Care methods help individuals with special needs to become more self-reliant and able to contribute to their community.

Source: the Green Care network (which Grennessminde is a part of)



Socioeconomic enterprise

Grennessminde is a socioeconomic enterprise – that is, a company that operates on ordinary market terms while making a positive social difference to society.


Grennessminde’s products are:

Educational courses, which are sold to Zealand municipalities. The courses are specially tailored to young people whose needs are not met by the conventional education programmes because they struggle with a variety of challenges. Among other methods, Grennessminde’s educational approach involves the production of top-quality products. Tangible products, such as organic bread, vegetables and flowers, in addition to products from the smithy, all of it sold at market prices.

Grennessminde is also an excursion destination that welcomes individual visitors as well as school groups on field trips, thus combining educational services with a stake in the experience economy. During the season, people can stop by to pick their own flowers and vegetables, which are sold by weight. You can also see the farm’s horses, miniature pigs, pygmy goats, rabbits, guineapigs, chickens, ducks and alpacas and visit the café, which sells the scrumptious bread made by the on-site bakery.

A 350-m2 dome at the farm is home to the Videnscenter for Socialøkonomi (Socioeconomic Knowledge Centre), which Grennessminde established in 2017. The spectacular building is rented out to conferences and parties.

Grennessminde also has a residential programme for young people who need training to be ready for independent or semi-independent living.

I talked to Hanne Danielsen, who for the past eight years has been the CEO of Grennessminde; she is currently stationed in Greenland.

Over the coming years, in collaboration with local Greenlandic partners, Grennessminde is going to support the development of socioeconomic initiatives in Greenland aimed at helping people with special needs in both East and West Greenland to find jobs, colleagues and new opportunities in life – the same goals that have driven Grennessminde’s work in Taastrup since 1984: enabling as many as possible to find employment and earn a living.



Hanne explains that the young people who come to Grennessminde struggle with multiple challenges and have often faced failure. ‘Some of them have no ability to sense themselves, they can’t feel cold, warmth, sorrow, joy, hunger or thirst. Working with soil, crops, food and animals involves sensuous processes that brings them to life and makes them stronger.’

‘Generally in society, there is a lot of talk about inclusion,’ says Hanne. ‘In our work we speak of reverse inclusion. By that I mean that we include society in what the young people do. That makes them proud, and having to present their activities improves their ability to be outgoing.’


The terms

‘Our teachers are all fully trained and have a very high professional level, naturally in addition to a commitment to helping to move people from a poor starting point to a place that’s better. Thanks to their high professional level, we can sell the vegetables we grow to the finest and most discerning restaurants, and we produce handcarts for the Zoo, for example. Making something that is appreciated helps the young people grow.’

I have to ask if it isn’t a distortion of competition when Grennessminde makes products that are sold to customers who would otherwise buy from another organic market garden or another blacksmith?

‘I’m glad you asked that,’ Hanne replies. ‘If you didn’t know what sort of challenges the young people are dealing with, you might think they were just free labour. That’s far from the case. If it was only about producing and selling, it would be easier for us to turn a profit without involving them. Because they are involved, in addition to teaching them life skills and providing them with an education, you also have to be prepared to drop everything in order to deal with problems that have become overwhelming, to offer a hug or to take someone to the doctor or to a psychiatric clinic. We cannot expect efficiency in production; on the other hand, our approach is effective when it comes to promoting growth and resilience.’


And when the participants have completed the three-year programme, then what? ‘We work with a number of companies, both big and small,’ Hanne explains. ‘Our partners offer traineeships, and if the young person can handle the job, the traineeship will often lead to employment. We have many success stories – close to 50% of our graduates end up in employment. IKEA in Taastrup has recruited many employees from here.’

Young people with special needs are not alone in seeking calm and relief by working with the land, says Hanne. ‘We are seeing growing interest in working with the land from adults who, for one reason or another, have dropped out of the labour market, often due to stress’.

Jeg har hentet snitblomster af mange slags 20 km uden for København på et stort økologisk gartneri, som hedder Grennessminde.

Blomsterne er sat i vaser fra Iittalas Savoyserie. Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) tegnede vaserne i 1936 til en af Finlands store, gamle glasproducenter, Karhula. De blev præsenteret ved verdensudstillingen i Paris i 1937 og blev Aaltos internationale gennembrud som industriel formgiver. Vaserne, med deres organiske, naturinspirerede former, har for længst fået klassikerstatus. Omend de er mindre bløde i formerne i dag end i den oprindelige udgave, så er de stadig virkelig fine.

Aaltos Savoy har gennem mange år været mundblæst hos Iittala i Finland, som oplyser, at der er syv kunsthåndværkere, 12 arbejdstrin, 1100 °C og 10 timer involveret i produktionen af en vase.


Naturens helbredende kraft

Jeg mindes i disse pandemitider om en lille udstilling, jeg så for et par år siden på Designmuseum Danmark. Udstillingen beskrev Aaltos grundfilosofi, men handlede i særdeleshed om arbejdet med Paimio Sanatoriet, som blev åbnet i 1933 i Finland. Paimio, som er et modernistisk hovedværk, blev opført som tuberkulose-sanatorium. I mellemkrigsårene var tuberkulose en udbredt og dødbringende sygdom. Lys, luft og renlighed var stedets mantra, og hvor der ikke kunne helbredes, kunne der lindres. Blandt faciliteterne var liggehallerne, hvor patienterne kunne hvile liggende med udsigt til naturen.

Tuberkulose er heldigvis et overstået kapitel, i en periode fra begyndelsen af 1960’erne fungerede Paimio som almindeligt hospital. Siden 2014 har det gamle sanatorium været rehabiliteringscenter for børn.

1 Annual clary (Salvia viridis) 2 Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) 3 Purple top (Verbena bonariensis) 4 Madam butterfly (Antirrhinum majus) 5 Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) 6 Velvet curtains (Amaranthus cruentus) 7 Everlasting flower (Helichrysum bracteatum) 8 Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) 9 Cosmea Cosmos bipinnatus)


Grennessminde uddanner, med afsæt i Green Care, udsatte og sårbare unge i særligt tilrettelagte forløb kaldet STU (treårig, særlig tilrettelagt ungdomsuddannelse).

Green Care er en international betegnelse for metoder til social omsorg, terapi, rehabilitering og personlig udvikling, som tager udgangspunkt i det helende ved kontakt med natur, dyr, have og landbrug.

Det centrale element i al Green Care-aktivitet er, at kontakt med planter, dyr og vild natur er sundt og helende for alle mennesker. Dette er bekræftet af forskning.

Arbejdet med dyr og planter, for eksempel i landbrugspraksis, byder på unikke virkemidler såsom gradvis optrapning af samarbejde og kontakt med andre mennesker og kontinuerlig opbygning af kompetencer og udfordringer.

Med en Green Care-praksis styrkes ressourcesvage borgere, så de i højere grad kan tage vare på sig selv og bidrage til lokalsamfundet.

Kilde: Green Care-netværket (som Grennessminde er en del af)



Grennessminde er en socialøkonomisk virksomhed.

En socialøkonomisk virksomhed er en virksomhed, der på én gang tjener penge på almindelige markedsvilkår og skaber positiv social forandring for samfundet.

Grennessmindes produkter er: Uddannelsespladser, som sælges til sjællandske kommuner. Uddannelse til unge, for hvem der ikke findes en plads i det almindelige uddannelsessystem, fordi de har vanskeligheder af den ene eller anden slags. Grennessminde uddanner blandt andet gennem produktion af højkvalitetsprodukter. Fysiske produkter som økologisk brød, grøntsager og blomster foruden smedevarer, som afsættes til markedspris.

Grennessminde er også et udflugtsmål, åbent for såvel private gæster som for skoleklasser på udflugt. Her taler vi om oplevelsesøkonomi og salg af undervisning. På det store gartneriområde er der i sæsonen pluk selv af blomster og grøntsager, som sælges efter vægt, der er desuden mulighed for at komme helt tæt på heste, minigrise, dværggeder, kaniner, marsvin, høns, ænder og alpakaer, og der er en café, som sælger bageriets gode brød.

På grunden er opsat en 350 m2 stor ‘dome’, som danner ramme om Videnscenter for Socialøkonomi, som Grennessminde etablerede i 2017, den spektangulære bygning udlejes til konferencer og fester.

Desuden har Grennessminde et botilbud for unge, der har behov for træning i at bo selv i en mere eller mindre støttet form.

Jeg har talt med Hanne Danielsen, som i otte år har været administrerende direktør for Grennessminde, hun er nu for en periode i Grønland.

Grennessminde skal i samarbejde med lokale grønlandske partnere i de kommende år medvirke til udvikling af socialøkonomiske tiltag her med henblik på, at flere udsatte mennesker i både Øst- og Vestgrønland får jobs, kollegaer og nye muligheder i livet.

Det er samme målsætning, som siden 1984 har gjort sig gældende for Grennessminde i Taastrup.

Så mange som muligt skal i job og skal blive selvforsørgende.



Hanne fortæller, at de unge, når de kommer til Grennessminde, har mange nederlag og store udfordringer med i bagagen. “En del af dem kan overhovedet ikke mærke sig selv, ikke mærke kulde, varme, sorg, glæde, sult eller tørst. Det at arbejde med jorden, fødevarerne og dyrene, det at arbejde med noget sanseligt vækker dem til live, og de bliver stærkere og stærkere.”

“Der tales i samfundet meget om inklusion”, siger Hanne, “hos os taler vi om omvendt inklusion. Med det mener jeg, at vi inkluderer samfundet i det, de unge laver. Det gør de unge stolte, og det træner dem i udadvendthed at skulle præsentere deres aktiviteter.”



“Vores lærere er faguddannede og har et meget højt fagligt niveau, selvfølgelig foruden en stor interesse for at være med til at flytte mennesker fra et dårligt udgangspunkt til et sted, som er bedre. Det høje faglige niveau betyder, at vores grøntsagsproduktion kan sælges til de bedste og mest kræsne restauranter, og at vi producerer trækvogne til Zoo, for eksempel. Det styrker de unge at lave noget, som bliver værdsat.”

Jeg bliver nødt til at spørge, er der tale om konkurrenceforvridning, når Grennessminde producerer varer, som sælges til kunder, som ellers ville handle på et hvilket som helst andet økologisk gartneri eller hos en anden smed?

“Jeg er glad for, at du spørger”, svarer Hanne, “hvis man ikke kender til de unges udfordringer, så kunne man tro, at de blot var ekstra og gratis hænder. Sådan er det på ingen måde. Hvis det kun handlede om at producere og sælge, så kunne vi meget lettere tjene penge uden at involvere dem. Når de er med, så skal man ud over at opdrage og uddanne også være klar til når som helst at smide, hvad man har i hænderne for at løse problemer, som er gået i hårdknude, for at give et knus eller for at køre en tur til lægen eller på psykiatrisk afdeling. Vi kan ikke tillade os at forvente effektivitet i produktionen, til gengæld er metoden effektiv i forholdet til trivsel.”

Og når de unge har gennemgået det treårige forløb, hvad så? “Vi har en række erhvervspartnere, små som store virksomheder”, fortæller Hanne, “vores partnere tager de unge i praktik, og hvis de er kapable til at bestride et job, så fører det ikke sjældent til en ansættelse. Vi laver mange succeshistorier, op mod 50% af de unge ender i beskæftigelse. Ikea i Taastrup har rekrutteret mange medarbejdere her.”

Unge med særlige udfordringer er ikke de eneste, som søger ro og lindring gennem at arbejde med jorden. “Vi oplever”, siger Hanne, “en stigende interesse for arbejdet med jorden fra voksne, som af den ene eller anden årsag er faldet ud af arbejdsmarkedet, her spiller stress en stor rolle”.


GRENNESMINDE, Snubbekorsvej 16, Taastrup


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