The Treasure of Ardre and the Last Free Farmers
What began as a casual hike through the fields of Ardre on an island off the Swedish coast, Gotland, in a matter of moments became an exciting discovery in the history of wheat. Referred to as the “Treasure of Ardre,” a chest of wheat seeds was found in 1965 by members of the Swedish agricultural society on the farm of Ragnar Pettersson, a local farmer and baker, known for his mysteriously unique grains and loaves.
After 30 years in storage at the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, the treasures within Pettersson's seed chest were investigated by Hans Larsson, a researcher in plant breeding for organic farming at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. By 2007, with the help of Niklasson and a group of five farms and mills, the Gutekorn cooperative was formed with a mission to protect and manage the Treasure of Ardre.
At the forefront of a global movement to revitalize ancient grains is Gutekorn. As Niklasson says in an interview with Modern Farmer reporter Cole Ruth:
“A farmer today isn’t free. Farmers are dependent on the seed distributors and since the modern seeds don’t have the right resistances, they are dependent on pesticide producers, and since the pesticides kill the healthy microbes in the soil, they are also dependent on the fertilizer companies. At Gutekorn we are some of the last free farmers.”