Sustainable bonfire celebration – Biochar Valborg – light the fire in an eco-friendly way in your own “Backyard”

Celebrate the spring with Ödevata – eco-friendly

In Sweden we celebrate Valborg with a bonfire, to welcome spring and say goodbye to winter. Valborg is the perfect time to get out of your house after a cold winter, meet up with others and at the same time burn garden waste. The Valborg bonfire has traditionally been lit after gathering an impressive amount of nature´s debris, the process that could take several weeks. The focus has been on large fires and gatherings. When you fire the waste, you get a cozy fire to gather around, and you get rid of your lumber.

But is it possible to light the fire outdoors in an eco-friendly way?

When we burn the garden waste in a traditional way, we harm our environment. A lot of waste is left behind and the carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. 

We want to renew the Valborg celebration keeping the essence of the tradition, which is about being with family and friends. We call it Biochar Valborg. The fire is not just for fun, the added value is the production of biochar. In terms of biochar, we suddenly see all waste as a resource. 

Lighting a small fire in your backyard with family and friends feels more vibrant and far easier to arrange than the old traditional feast.

Spring comes with bonfires around the world

In most countries around the world springtime and early summer is the time of clearing out and making bonfires. 

  • Valencia region in Spain celebrates “las Fallas” every year in March that origins from a carpenter’s tradition. At the arrival of spring, people used to burn pieces of wood 
  • Walpurgis Night (Valborgsmässoafton) is not only celebrated in the whole of Scandinavia but as well in some other European countries 
  • St John’s Eve, on 23rd of June, is traditionally a celebration of the birth of St. John the Baptist. One of the main components of this celebration is a bonfire. It is celebrated in countries such as Estonia, France, Spain, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Portugal. In Sweden we celebrate Midsummer. 

Fire, bonfires, cooking outdoors and celebrations is a part of our human history. In that way enrich the culture and history and create an added value. 

The pandemic has forced us to change our behavior. Valborg celebrations are an important tradition to preserve, and we want to renew it. 

We were happy to have a good start last year and would like to spread the idea internationally this year.

The Ödevata way!

At Ödevata Countryside hotel we ask ourselves daily how we can contribute to a more sustainable way of living, consumption, socializing, running associations and companies. Magnus and I are passionate about change and would love to find out more what you are doing in this respect? 

We want to inspire and be inspired. Our goal is to create and live our own eco-friendly lifestyle and to run a sustainable outdoor resort. 

It is important to learn from others and at the same time show the way. In all our projects we have had guests and volunteers from all over the world helping us to achieve our common goal to be a small part of the solution. 

The support from our partners, guests and volunteers has been a driving force and motivates us to push forward and Biokol Valborg is an important big step. 

We work tirelessly so that one day we can become the most sustainable tourist facility in Sweden, a place promoting climate positive actions. Ödevata should contribute to a stable climate, not sabotage it. We are Magnus and Malin Axelsson, two ordinary countryside and small town Swedes with a great vision.

A new-old way to celebrate Valborg 

Last year we wanted to create a new way to celebrate Valborg. Due to pandemic it became more difficult to celebrate Valborg together and the traditional fire is not very sustainable – in makes a negative climate impact.

As a holiday resort and week-end getaway we like to have our guests over for some Swedish traditions and celebration. However, as the climate gets dryer even in Sweden, more permissions and restrictions to make fires are needed. It is often windy so you cannot fire on the ground, or it is too dry in the ground. So, the events are often canceled, or cannot be done with a fire.

We decided to simple lite our Kon-Tiki and life streamed the event with a small Swedish on-line audience .

This year we want to meet up with more like-minded resorts, companies, and people. Get to know each other while lighting and sampling the Kon-Tiki. 

  • We want to meet you and introduce you to our Swedish audience 
  • We want to reduce emissions from the fire, teach about biochar and at the same time invite to a wonderful community around a fire outdoors. 
  • Instead of letting the waste burn to ashes, let’s make biochar and use it in the garden. 
  • Instead of a large physical gatherings, we want to connect smaller groups. In our own backyards, we become many who can celebrate together. 
  • We meet digitally and form a network of many smaller groups that simultaneously stream their Biochar Valborg around a Kon-Tiki.

Let’s extend the networks! 

We believe that there are many of you out there who would like to join us. We share common interest such as

Gardening and Planting– has a huge group of followers all over the world as it give us a more sustainable everyday life. With biochar you get a solid soil improver you can make yourself. The biochar, when put into the ground, creates a perfect habitat for microorganisms and bacteria are worms and fungi. They love living in the coal. The cavities that are created by adding biochar to the soil are what microorganisms and bacteria want to live in. A small amount of biochar can create significant soil improvement in a large area. Biochar is like a fungus, it absorbs huge amounts of liquid and keeps nutrients in the soil for a long time to benefit the plants Biochar can provide benefits for the environment, sustainability and our garden.

This year we are also collaborating with Cross Baltica to reach out to companies and organisations in the Baltics and Poland working in the garden and park management sector. We hope to connect more people online and create a new tradition. 

Partners

Outdoor cooking – Our local partner, Explore Småland organises a Biochar Valborg with cooking on biochar grills for chefs and culinary interested people. 

Learning, culture heritage and socialising – Eva Oscarsson from our largest partner, Skanditrip Premium Motorhome Rental, will contact local associations and institutions in her home municipality Mölndal as well as in Alicante Spain where she has got a house. Or as Eva explains it, “I would very much like to join Biochar Valborg in my vicinity, being in Sweden or in Spain. I also have the dream to make the first Paella on an biochar outdoor kitchen somewhere in Alicante this year. 

Sustainability promoters, We are also very interested in working with organisations that manage the cultural heritage, youth participation, environment and sustainability around Sweden and Europe. In recent weeks, we have had fruitful conversations with local associations and local environmental and cultivation developers.

Kon-Tiki

A challenge last year was the lack of Kon-Tikis. You can use a manure spreader, an older model in iron. But it is not always easy to get one and we do not know if you would have these in your country at all.

We are hoping to create some instructional material how we produce our Kon-tikis. Keep you eyes open on our you tube channel. Please also see our shop for our outdoor kitchens and small-scale production of Kon-Tikis ( in Swedish):

You can also check the Ithaka institute led by Hans-Peter Schmidt. He has devoted his life to biochar research. Together with his biochar institute, the Institute researched and developed a special barrel for farmers and foresters to easily produce large amounts of biochar on their own. They named this design Kon-Tiki. They have shared their Kon-Tiki drawings and you can find it on their website.

Do you want to be part of the event!

Mike from Digitalhandyman is prepared to help you to be part of the event. For more information on streaming with Ödevata contact Mike Li (info@digitalhandyman.se).