This Swedish Permaculture Retreat Is a Foodie's Paradise

This Swedish Permaculture Retreat Is a Foodie's Paradise

By Lucy Wang
Nestled in the forests of Southern Sweden, this permaculture farm and retreat invites all to come explore and experiment with sustainable living.

When weekend trips in the country weren’t enough to satisfy restaurant owners Mette Helbæk and Flemming Hansen’s longing for nature, the couple did the unthinkable. They closed their successful restaurant and sold their house in Copenhagen to follow their dreams of cultivating a sustainable permaculture farm and retreat in the Swedish wilderness.

Located in Southern Sweden, Stedsans in the Woods is a remote getaway set on the shores of a serene lake, and is only a short two-and-a-half hour drive from Copenhagen. 

The dynamic duo moved south to a remote old-growth forest on the shore of Lake Halla to plant roots in a new endeavor that has happily paid off. 

Foodies and nature lovers alike have flocked to Stedsans in the Woods, a sustainable resort that has recently expanded to include 14 new timber cabins, each with a large glass wall. 

The glass-walled cabins have been built from slow-growing and durable Växjö fir.

Charming timber cabins and a sustainably managed landscape aren’t the retreat’s only highlights—Mette and Flemming show off their cooking chops and culinary stylings at Stedsan’s restaurant, which offers a seasonal locavore feast served family-style. 

The restaurant accommodates 30 guests around long plank tables.

All ingredients are locally sourced with the majority foraged nearby and retrieved on site. A small percentage of the ingredients are picked up from nearby farmers, hunters, and fishermen.

A medicinal herb garden offers a bounty of sage, basil, thyme, and other healing plants used in the food and in the non-alcoholic drinks menu.

 "A big part of our vision is to take people from the city out in nature—to let them fall in love with what nature has to offer—because we believe that you protect what you fall in love with," explains Mette. "Inspirational sustainability is important to us." 

Here are the Stedsans in the Woods founders, Flemming Hansen and Mette Helbæk.

Launched in July 2017, Stedsans in the Woods started off with a series of luxury bedouin canvas tents for lodging. 

A successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $114,000 helped fund the development of the permaculture retreat, which now includes a glass-enclosed restaurant, a floating sauna, and recently completed cabins designed and built in collaboration with Asger Risborg and Thomas Kjelds.

The floating sauna has an oak frame and is cladded in larch, materials chosen for their ability to withstand the elements without the use of any chemicals.

Stedsans in the Woods will soon include a greenhouse and an outdoor spa area with a hot tub, showers, and a yoga/meditation platform.

Although the cabins have now been completed, a few of the roomier canvas bedouin tents will still be available to rent.

To accommodate students, chef apprentices, and other travelers on a budget, the couple plans to add a primitive camping shelter as well. "We want to make room for different kinds of people around our tables," explains Mette. 

The majority of the bed linens, blankets, and pillows are sourced from Danish design brand Aiayu, which produces their products using organic cotton and hand-knit cashmere and wool. Young designers are also invited to make beautiful one-of-a-kind additions to the resort.

Sustainability is woven throughout the Swedish resort, from the biodynamic farming and resource management to the way the owners treat their staff and guests. However, the goal of Stedsans in the Woods isn’t only to practice sustainability. The couple also wants to explore how communities can live in sync with nature via a symbiotic relationship.

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Guests can enjoy a six-course dinner that’s included in a weekend stay.

Stedsans in the Woods also offers a more DIY approach to dinner on weekdays, when guests are taught how to cook their meal over an open fire.

To that end, Mette and Flemming have dubbed their idyllic resort a "lab for their lifestyle of the future," and invite architects, philosophers, farmers, designers, and other visitors from around the world to experiment and explore new ways of sustainable living at Stedsans in the Woods.

"My dogma is inspired by a Japanese saying that an object gets its energy from three different elements: the material it is made out of, the person who made it, and the people who cared for it," says Mette. The cabins have been built of wood carried through the forest.

The lodging interiors have been dressed in organic bed linen with large comfortable beds, beautiful handcrafted and recycled furnishings, and wood-fired stoves.

The farm is about two and a half acres and is surrounded by miles of forests that are ripe for foraging.

Blackened timber clads the boathouse.

The floating sauna was completed last fall.

A small triangular window punctuates the interior of the floating sauna.

Composting toilets are housed in the outhouses designed and built by Flemming and Thorbjørn Flegal using larch, slate, and glass.

A pudding of an assortment of locally foraged summer strawberries served with cream.

For scrumptious meals and a luxurious night spent beneath the stars at the sustainable Swedish resort, make a booking here. The restaurant and retreat are open from May to October.


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