A feeling for the sustainable details at Pensionat Stalldalen

A small Green Key village is about to emerge. Just around the corner from the Green Key restaurant Pub Stallhagen on Aland Islands, Finland, you will find the newly opened boarding house Stalldalen. In addition to the boarding house you will also find Johannas Hembakta, a bakery and café. Both Pensionat Stalldalen and Johannas Hembakta is working towards Green Key certification.

One of the driving forces behind the boarding house is Christian Ekström, who is also one of the owners of Pub Stallhagen. "The idea is that everything should be available here, an oasis in the middle of Åland. In addition to food and accommodation, a recovery clinic will also be available at the lodging house. The guests have the possibility of taking part in the MittÅland concept during the stay. This means that you can go on guided farm trips to local producers to collect ingredients. The ingredients are prepared by you with a chef or left to Pub Stallhagen so that the chefs make a meal. The guests that don’t feel like cooking can go for a tour in the small beer brewery wall to wall with the pub. Through the concept, visitors get a better understanding of the chain from farm to fork,” says Christian.

Christian has a solid network through Pub Stallhagen. The pub only uses local ingredients, and this is made possible by the fact that 84 Åland producers supply food to Pub Stallhagen, all within a 20 kilometer radius. At the same time, a unique opportunity is offered for those who want to be physically involved in farm to fork chain during the visit.

“Guests have the opportunity to be volunteers and help farmers to pick apples or harvest onions and potatoes. For the work done the volunteer receives Stalldaler. Stalldaler can be used as payment at Pub Stallhagen. The volunteering is a support for small businesses who feel they can’t hire anyone.”

In the boarding house right next to the water, which opened its doors in June, sustainability has been taken into account in every detail. The more well-known sustainable solutions, such as showers and taps with low water flow and organic bedlinen, are combined with unique crafts like the curtains and bed canopies sewn by a local seamstress. The pillows on the headboard are upcycled and sewn from fabrics from the local second hand store and the floor in the corridor is decorated with handmade, recycled rag rugs.

"The rag rug is 37 meters long. The world's longest Alandian rag rug,” Christian laughs. “The walls are painted with egg tempera instead of latex paint. We used local eggs, local and organic rapeseed oil and color pigments. 35 kg of eggs where used to the color and we only used eggs that were too small to be sold. It is very unusual to use egg tempera in such large projects as this, but there are many advantages. The color breathes better and lasts longer than the latex paint. In addition, the color is toxic free and gives a living feeling in the room as it changes shade depending on how the light from the sun falls in the room. Egg tempera is even cheaper than latex paint.”

The windows are covered with UV film to maximize heat intake from the sun in the winter and minimize heat from the sun in summer and this is combined with efficient heat recovery. The walls are decorated by local art and the rooms are accessible.

"Thinking locally and sustainably becomes a way of life. I do not even think about that it's going to be sustainable, it just gets that way. In the Pensionat Stalldalen there are 17 rooms and 4 apartments, and the basic idea has been that the decor should be timeless and work all year round. While the rooms are available to temporary guests, the apartments will mainly be for those who want to try to live on Åland. For example, newcomers can live in the apartments while looking for permanent accommodation. It’s the perfect location really, close to everything and in the middle of nature.”