Småländsk forest village becomes a cultural reserve

The cultural reserve Stensjö village

The Småland village of Stensjö, north of Oskarshamn, recently became the first cultural reserve in Kalmar County. With the conversion, the Royal Academy of Literature, which owns the land, together with the County Administrative Board of Kalmar, has taken the step to preserve the Småland village and its cultural landscape for future generations.

If Stensjö village with its idyllic cluster of red houses with white knots looks familiar, it's probably because you've seen it before - on TV. Stensjö village is in fact the Buller village from Astrid Lindgren's films. Well, part of it. The films were mainly shot in Sevedstorp in Vimmerby, 8 miles away, but several scenes were taken directly in Stensjö village or on the roads around the village. Stensjö village is now also the 35th state cultural reserve in Sweden.

A thorough review of the management of the village has been carried out over several years in preparation for its conversion into a cultural reserve. In and around Stensjö village you can experience a genuine Småland cultural landscape that has been shaped by grazing and pasturing over the centuries. Now this landscape is to be preserved.

We see great advantages in Stensjö village becoming a cultural reserve. Above all, it will increase visibility and we hope for greater cooperation with the municipality, schools and associations. Old methods of farming the land will return to Stensjö village and we look forward to showing it off to old and new visitors, we want to be a model for cultural conservation.

Professor Mats Widgren, Academy of Literature.
New signage in Stensjö village. Photo: Urban Wedin

Many years of work have led to this, but the real work begins now. The Academy of Literature has begun the task of preserving the valuable cultural landscape of Småland for the future. In Stensjö village, they want to give a picture of how a forest village in Småland looked and functioned around the turn of the century.

Specifically, this work will reintroduce grazing animals on the land in the forest nearest to the village to provide a more open landscape. The fields will also be sown with older varieties of cereals and the old mowing meadows will be mowed with scythes, as before. The lawns around the houses will be replaced by turn-of-the-century gardens, and the fun work will be done by Stensjö village's very own gardener Frida Persson.

Gardener Frida Persson, Stensjö village. Photo: Urban Wedin

The village of Stensjö is mentioned for the first time in writing in 1351, then as Stenzöö, the rocky island. Stone has been a constant companion for the Småland farmer, as countless miles of old stone walls testify. Many villages were broken up by the legal division of 1850. But not Stensjö village, which "thanks" to a dispute between the five owners of the village was allowed to remain a village.

The relationship between culture and nature is not only a historical issue, but very much a question for the future. We believe that the agricultural landscape of Småland as it looked before the large-scale industrialisation of agriculture in the 20th century has much to teach us who live today, both the researcher and the visitor at Stensjö. The hope is that new knowledge and understanding will come out of this venture.

Peter Gillgren, Academy of Literature
Photo: Hasse Schröder

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