Sustainability for the taste buds

The Green Key awarded restaurant Smakbyn built its business around bringing back the local taste of the Åland Islands.

On the small Åland Islands, an autonomous part of Finland, sea and nature have always dictated the life of the population. Although modern lifestyles created some distance between the island inhabitants and nature, Ålanders try to reconnect to their heritage – through local food.

One of the restaurants that built its business around this demand is Smakbyn. The chef Michael Björklund and his wife Jenny who run the restaurant together put high emphasis on local ingredients and sustainable practices in the restaurant.

“It is important for us to work with good ingredients, clean flavours, work sustainably and according to season, says Nora Rosenström, environmental manager at Smakbyn.”

The focus on sustainability, however, is not only visible in the menu, where dishes with local fish and handpicked mushrooms and berries from the forests around the restaurant are offered, but also in the building itself. During the construction and furnishing of the restaurant, considerations were taken to reduce the water and energy consumption, and to use local products and design to give the restaurant a local touch.

The step to be Green Key awarded therefore seemed obvious to the team of Smakbyn.

 “We are already working with a lot of the issues Green Key touches upon. We care about sustainability and would like to make our work more visible. Green Key is a good tool in our undertakings. The programme’s strength is that the important parts are documented and followed-up on, but Green Key also gives us tips on what we can improve so that our own sustainability efforts are constantly up to date.”

Green Key for restaurants is on its first year on the Åland islands and the local Green Key coordinator Karin Rosenberg is very optimistic about the programme:

“We have a great opportunity on the Åland islands. The restaurants are generally of high quality and the participants in the programme are in many ways flagships for our entire local food culture. Through Green Key, restaurants get the opportunity to gain recognition for their work and take further steps towards a business in harmony with the environment”