Axfoundation opens a test farm and practical center for sustainable food systems just north of Stockholm, Sweden. The ambition is to increase the pace of sustainable food innovation.
Press release 2022-04-28:The Swedish non-profit organization Axfoundation is throwing open the gates of a test farm and practical center for sustainable food systems. Just north of Stockholm, Torsåker Farm is growing. It now includes fields, an experimental garden, and a newly renovated barn equipped with four test kitchens and bakery. The ambition is to increase the pace of sustainable food innovation.
We want to help accelerate the transition to sustainable food systems, for the sake of the climate, the environment and public health. At Torsåker Farm, we work together with scientists and practitioners to evaluate sustainable farming and aquaculture methods, and now we can also take the results straight from the fields and water to processing in our test kitchens. Here, we can pressure test innovations before scaling them up. We want to shorten the path between sustainable ideas and finished solutions, says Madeleine Linins Mörner, Program Director for Future Food at Axfoundation.
For some years now, Axfoundation has been running several innovation projects at Torsåker Farm, including one which evaluates how much carbon can be stored in cropland. Practical research is also underway to develop perennial crops such as wheat and bulbous barley. Other examples of successful innovations born on the farm include minced bream made from unused bycatch from Swedish lakes, and Swedish Minced Legumes made from Swedish crops, completely soy-free. With the inauguration of “Ladugården” (the Barn), operations are now expanding further.
Built in the 18th century, the newly renovated Ladugården houses four test kitchens, a restaurant kitchen and a bakery, among other facilities. Axfoundation’s hope is that the new center will help lower the threshold for innovators looking to make the leap from sustainable idea to industrial manufacturing.
We often stumble on interesting ideas from scientists and entrepreneurs. Now that Ladugården is up and running, we can help more people make the leap to a large-scale production, says Anna Henning Moberg, Manager for Project Development and Test Kitchen Operations at Torsåker Farm. Our ambition is to increase the pace of sustainable food innovation with products that are simultaneously useful in everyday life and sustainable for both humans and the environment.
Torsåker Farm will be a new Swedish center for knowledge exchange and practical innovation for sustainable food systems. Axfoundation’s Secretary General Maria Smith sees great potential in creating a physical space where actors from throughout the food chain can gather – from researchers to practitioners such as farmers, fishermen, food processors, chefs, entrepreneurs, and trade and wholesaler representatives.
At Torsåker Farm, we want to help solve the sustainability challenges of the food chain, but these are complex issues that no single actor can solve on their own. As an independent organization, Axfoundation can bring together both the business community and academia, and together we can find concrete solutions to common problems, says Axfoundation’s Secretary General Maria Smith.
The force behind Torsåker Farm is Axfoundation, a non-profit organization that, under the leadership of Chairman of the Board Alexandra Mörner, has developed from a small application foundation to a unifying actor for practical solutions. The Torsåker Farm venture has been made possible by Axfoundation founder Antonia Ax:son Johnson and her family.
At Torsåker farm there are fields, meadows, woodland, and an experimental garden. Here, Axfoundation brings together researchers and practitioners from the entire food chain to achieve concrete results
The barn at Torsåker farm has four test kitchens, a bakery and a restaurant kitchen. The barn's facility is suitable for testing and development of everything from vegetable foods to meat and seafood products.
- The climate: The food sector accounts for about a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. To keep global warming below 1.5 degrees, emissions must be halved by the year 2030.
- Biodiversity: Agriculture is the single largest driver of biodiversity loss. To produce an adequate supply of food without pushing the planet beyond its limits, agriculture must transition to sustainable farming practices.
- The seas: 90% of the world’s marine fish stocks are overfished or maximally sustainably fished f. To meet an increased demand for seafood, sustainable fishing and aquaculture methods are needed.
- Food waste: Every year, 1.3 million tons of food are thrown away in Sweden. Much of this waste is used to produce biogas. The food chain needs to transition to circular solutions in which waste streams such as food waste and press residues are recirculated higher up the food chain.
- Nutrition: In Sweden, we eat a diet with too much meat and too little legumes, vegetables and whole grains. To improve public health and reduce the climate footprint of our food, a wide range of healthy, tasty and sustainable options are needed in everyday life.
- Swedish food innovation: According to the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, Sweden is counted as one of Europe’s most innovative countries in the steel, forest, and vehicle industries, but when it comes to food we’re all the way down in 14th place. According to the Sweden Food Arena, one of the reasons for Sweden’s low rate of innovation is the lack of an infrastructure that allows entrepreneurs with innovative food ideas to scale up without having to make major investments.
- Axfoundation is an independent, non-profit organization that develops practical solutions to concrete sustainability challenges related to the things we buy, the food we eat, and the resources we use. The cornerstone of its operations is business as a driving force for change, and the foundation collaborates with over 200 societal actors. Axfoundation works in three program areas: Sustainable Production & Consumption, Circular Economy, and Future Food.
- Torsåker Farm is Axfoundation’s center for future food. It is a test farm and a practical center for sustainable food systems. Here, Axfoundation brings together researchers and practitioners from throughout the food chain to take on complex sustainability challenges in our food system and develop concrete solutions. Torsåker Farm has fields, woodlands and a vast experimental garden. The newly renovated “Ladugården” (the Barn) is equipped with four test kitchens, a restaurant kitchen, and a bakery, among other facilities. Axfoundation runs numerous projects at Torsåker Farm:
- Perennial crops: Together with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Axfoundation is developing perennial crops, including a perennial strain of wheat.
- Regenerative agriculture: In the fields, sustainable farming methods with a low climate impact are being evaluated.
- Press residues: Tests are currently underway at Torsåker Farm to determine how we can tap into the potential of unused waste streams from the food industry, such as press residues from the manufacture of beer and plant-based beverages, to produce nutritious and tasty foods.
- Swedish Minced Legumes: To contribute to a Swedish protein shift, Axfoundation developed a soy-free minced legumes product based entirely on Swedish legumes. The idea was born at Torsåker Farm and went from beans in the fields to a finished product out on the Swedish market at a record pace. Production was subsequently handed over to a commercial actor.
- Minced bream: To better use underutilized fish species, Axfoundation developed a production chain for a bycatch from Swedish lakes: bream. Wholesalers now sell minced bream to restaurants and commercial kitchens.
- Dishing up five tons of green fish: Together with SLU and partners throughout the food chain, Axfoundation developed a pilot-scale infrastructure to convert vegetable-based waste streams into a high-protein feedstock for farmed fish. The result was Sweden’s first green rainbow salmon, bred on a circular-based feed of mainly insects – insects which, in turn, had been raised on a diet of food waste.
- Antibiotics criteria 2.0: In collaboration with nearly two dozen actors, Axfoundation has produced industry-wide antibiotics criteria – a tool that allows the food industry to set requirements and follow up suppliers of meat, dairy and seafood with regard to both their antibiotic use and animal welfare.