Denmark’s first seaside garden was built in Ebeltoft, and it has led to several harbors around the country and so far, two new local companies working with seaweed products. The harbor is in the municipality of Syddjurs, which is enriched by an approx. 140 km long coastline and a well-preserved coastal culture.
The last autumn sun shines over the peculiar fishing port of Ebeltoft, and a fresh breeze blows in the face of the locals who go by the water. Here is not a crowd of people, but here, too, is not lonely and sad. Otherwise, there has been only one way for many Danish fishing ports and it is recession. That’s how it was in Ebeltoft. Once in the fishing season, there were 50 active fishing boats – today there is only one. Fortunately, however, there are opportunities for firebrands and this means that the harbor in Ebeltoft is a wealth of association activities, sailing clubs and ongoing events. In one of the classic wooden houses near the quay, Havhaven Ebeltoft Vig is located.
We want to ensure that there is still an active environment in the fishing port. And want to contribute positively to the marine environment, even though it is on a small scale. With the harbor, we saw an opportunity to give people ownership of the ocean and access to cultivate fresh, marine raw materials. It was originally the biologist Per Andersen, who in 2011 got the idea of a seaside garden. At the same time, I worked with the association ‘Ålekvasen Rigmor’, where a bunch of active seniors used their own hands to restore the old wooden ship Rigmor. Together we got the idea of putting old ships together with a seaside garden and helping to create life and preserve the authentic environment of the old fishing port.
The goal was to build a colony garden at sea, where the association provided the framework, so people could go out and take care of their mussels, oysters and seaweed. One and a half year was spent on obtaining all the formal permits, statutes, etc. in place. In the summer of 2013, the first public meeting was convened, and the first 50 joined the association. In September 2013, 86 small sea gardens were established in the 10-acre garden in Ebeltoft Vig. Today there are over 80 members.
From the seaside garden we get:
- Fresh, marine raw materials from own garden at sea – ecology and healthy nutrition
- The social element, “colony garden culture” spiced with outdoor activities and nature experiences
- Environment, sustainability, positive impact on the marine environment and high biodiversity
- Coastal culture – preserving the authentic fishing harbor environment with the opportunity to put the old, conservative fishing boats in play
There was an enormous interest in the harbor – both from residents and tourists – young as elderly. People really like the idea of sustainable cultivation of their own marine raw materials.
We have had to change the concept a little, so the members now run the whole harbor garden together. In addition, we organized ourselves with four groups – oysters, seaweed, clams and sailing. The idea of people taking out did not work, because it can be a big challenge for the individual to sail out and work on the sea alone, so now we do it together. We have also struggled a little with the weather – storms cleaned all the sea gardens the first year.
There is a lot of work and everything becomes more demanding when on the sea, especially when the weather is bad. But it is also fascinating, and we would like to help spread the knowledge of sea gardening. This is an opportunity to create a local context and framework for the good life. And then the meal tastes even better when you have been picking up the ingredients for dinner in your own sea kitchen.
If you are looking for inspiration for the construction of a seaside garden, please feel free to visit us.
Thorkild Hansen, formand Havhaven Ebeltoft Vig