Growing up on a farm in Sekse in west Norway, Ingrid Sekse never wanted to be a farmer. She trained as a teacher and worked in primary education. But when her father died after a short illness in 2013, Ingrid decided to take the plunge. In 2014, she became the tenth generation to run the farm.

In 2021, Ingrid and her husband built a production facility of 500 m2 for making cider and apple juice. They now have 10,000 apple trees and in 2023 harvested over 90 tons of apples. “When I became a farmer I couldn’t drive a tractor or prune fruit trees,” says Ingrid. “Fortunately, we have wonderful neighbours who helped! I also found that learning by doing was the best way to gain experience.” Hardangerbonden now produces apple cider, cider with added flavours, ice cider and apple juice, and offers tastings and tours, plus a farm shop.

“We only make ciders from pure apple varieties and we don’t mix different types of apples, which gives the unique flavour of the cider. If you drink an apple juice or cider from us, I can point out which tree it comes from.” When the apples are ripe, they are harvested by hand. The apples are then ground and pressed into juice. The entire process takes about 3 to 4 months. “You have to be patient, watch carefully and wait for something special to develop, namely cider from Hardanger,” says Ingrid.

Hardangerbonden: Trading in teaching for life on a Norwegian apple farm

Once labelled, Hardangerbonden’s products are named after important people in the life of the farmer Ingrid. “On the front of the label, the characters are illustrated and on the back you can read their history,” explains Ingrid. “We want to give customers a sense of where the product comes from and who made it.”

The cider tastings at Hardangerbonden begin with a walk amongst the apple trees. Here, you have a view of Sørfjorden with the glacier Folgefonna in the background, and get to learn about fruit growing. If the weather allows, the first cider is served in the apple orchard. After this, you continue into the cider house for a tour of the production facility. If the time is right, you will get to taste cider straight from the tank and afterwards, relax in the cider lounge.

Hardangerbonden’s ciders go well with a variety of foods. “They are delicious alongside cheese, fish, and shellfish, and our ice ciders go nicely with creamy desserts such as crème brûlée, or a Norwegian favourite, apple cake with ice cream.”

In Norway, there is a growing interest in buying local food directly from the producer. However, for those unable to visit the farm, Hardangerbonden sells its products at restaurants and hotels as well as Vinmonopolet. Cider production is a labour of love, but it can also be great fun, adds Ingrid. “If you want to learn about fruit growing and life as a cider producer, or just have a good laugh, you can follow us at @hardangerbonden on Instagram.”

Hardangerbonden: Trading in teaching for life on a Norwegian apple farm

Instagram: @hardangerbonden

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