Slash and burn technique (Svedjing)

Svedjing /Slash and burn (fi Huuhta) is a method of farming that involves cutting down the spruce forest and burning and planting Forest Finn rye seeds in the ashes.

The Forest Finns moved along the large coniferous forest belt. The conifer forest belt stretches from Russia in the east to the mountains of Telemark in the west. The spruce forest had an acidic and nutrient-rich soil, which, when burned, gave the rye good growing conditions. The Forest Finns burnt large areas of land (Storsvedjing) that required a lot of work, and there were often several families and single Forest Finns (called løsfinner) who worked together on the areas. The forest was cut in early spring, it was then allowed to dry for a year or two before it was burned around midsummer of the third year. The ash layer must burn completely. According to the Kalevala, "it will burn so fiercely that even the stone will burn up". This prevents the rye from competing with other plants for nutrients in the soil. When the ashes had cooled down enough, the Forest Finn rye seeds were sown, about 1 foot apart (a grain per ?Birch shoe?) or 3 seeds the length of one calf skin. In the autumn, the livestock grazed the straws that came up and the following year up to 40 new straws grew on each tuft. The straws could be up to 2 meters high and in good years produced more than 100 folds. By comparison, ordinary corn fields returned 4 to 8-fold. It was often said that the crops in a 9-year period consisted of 3 good years, 3 medium years and 3 bad years.

The rye was often dried on large haystacks out in the forest, before they took it home to the dry house. In Tørberget on Trysil Finnskog, a replica of a large haystack has been set up. i

Together with the rye, a type of Forest Finn turnip was often grown. Reddish in color, with a taste reminiscent of turnip.

The disadvantage of slash and burn was that you only got one to two harvests in the same place, thenthe areas were used for pastures and winter hay. The Forest Finns also grew barley on the fields.

Next to farming, the Forest Finns kept household animals. The number of growing areas used to slash and burn provided plenty of grass, which meant that the Forest Finns often had a lot of livestock. In many cases they had more cows than the farmers in the Norwegian and Swedish villages had.

In a will after Gjertrud Andersdatter Purainen from Risberget in Våler Finnskog, we see that the farm owned 166 animals, of which 40 were cattle. This provided quantities of fertilizer and good opportunities for traditional crops.

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