Case Study

Tradition and innovation


Tradition and innovation


1. Introduction

The summer farming practice is based on local processing of goat milk. A mobile ‘dairy trailer’ is used to produce and sell products such as milk and different types of cheese. The summer farm welcomes visitors and offers meals with their production history as added value. Taking care of the landscape and maintaining biodiversity and cultural heritage is integral to the practice.

2. Basic information

Main promoter

Kathrin and Thomas Aslaksby

Start of the practice



Heggenes, Norway

Organisations involved
  • Farmer(s)/ Dairymaid(s)
  • Private landowner(s)
Total surface of land farmed in ha
  • 1000 (5×2 km)
Ownership of the land used for transhumance farming
  • 1.2 ha privately owned land
  • The more extensive grazing areas are owned by several farmers in common.
Basic produce
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Meat
  • Sausage
  • Landscape including its biodiversity
NO020 Innlandet
  • Main farm


  • Summer pastures


3. Situation before startup/ change/ continuation

Kathrin and Thomas Aslaksby bought the farm at Skammestein, including the summer farm, in 2006. For 20 years, from 1986 – 2006, no grazing or management of pastures was carried out at the summer farm. Until 1986, the former owners walked with cattle and milking cows from the main farm to the summer farm and stayed there during the summer, from mid-June to September 10th. Kathrin Aslaksby, responsible for the milking and processing of milk, has a master’s in nature conservation and management from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and has worked as a ranger and nature guide in National parks.

4. Transhumance farming business description

Landscape type

The summer farm is located on a south-western slope at 1000 m a.s.l. overlooking the lake Olevatn. That means that the summer farm is in the upper zone of the regional tree line. The open common grazing area consists of undulating hills, cliffs, gorges, marshland, and peatbogs. A little stream runs through the summer farm, providing water for cooling the milk. Due to climatic changes in the area, the water flow in the stream has become unstable. The milking shed is located at the highest point of the infields at the fence, separating the private infields from the surrounding commons and adjacent summer farms. The main house is located on lower grounds of the enclosed small yard.

Animal type/ breed

The livestock at the summer farm consists of 35-40 milking goats, some mohair goats (fur), and in recent years, horses. The goats graze the large areas of common land around lake Olevatn between the milking hours. The horses are kept for grazing and improving the quality of the fenced pastures. The goats are milked with portable milking machines to ensure the best milk quality for the cheese production. Kathrin Aslaksby produces different types of goat cheese, including brown (caramelised) cheese. Cheese is produced in a mobile ‘dairy trailer’ except for the brown cheese, which is boiled in a large iron pot in a traditional timber framed building. Approximately 700 kg goat cheese are produced at the summer farm.

Movement patterns

The distance from the main farm to the summer farm is 18 km, and due to traffic security, the goats are transported on a truck. Walking with the (pack) horse takes 3 hours.

Markets addressed/ product selling

The different types of cheese, sausages and other products are sold at the seasonal farm and the main farm from the ‘dairy trailer’ which has a cold storage room. Moreover, products are sold to shops for locally produced food and restaurants. Meals with cheese, sausages, and other farm products are served to visiting groups.

5. Decisions taken


Summer farming provides the opportunity to build organic production with low input of concentrates and effective use of grazing resources.

Decision for the kind of animal/ specific breed

Summer farming with goats fits well into the landscape. Introducing goats was the best way to manage and reinvigorate the traditional summer farming landscape in the area. Moreover, having milking goats at the summer farm is manageable when it comes to processing the milk on site.

Decision for the production system

To have a mobile ‘dairy trailer’ was essential for the practice since it would have been too costly to have two production units – one at the main farm and one at the seasonal farm.

Diversification of income

Producing cheese and selling it directly at the summer farm gives an added value. The summer farming landscape, the view, the story about summer farming and its ecological, cultural, and social benefits for society and nature all add value to the meals served at the summer farm. Organising and giving courses in cheese production is another way to support the income.

Multifunctional aspects

The mountain areas have been used for goat grazing for hundreds of years and goat grazing maintains a biodiverse landscape. Restoring traditional pastures with high biodiversity potentials, and keeping up cultural heritage traditions, and providing a genuine summer-farming landscape as a common good is important. The climate aspects of this farming system are also essential for the farmers.

6. Training/ skills to establish the business

The farming and summer farming network in the Valdres region has been very important for Kathrin Aslaksby. The network meets twice a year to share experiences and to learn from each other. Moreover, ‘Norsk seterkultur’, a national association concerned with promoting seasonal farming and increasing knowledge about it, has been important, as well as the ‘Fjellnettverket’. ‘Fjellnettverket’ is a regional political network for, among others, institutions and municipalities and addresses topics important for developing viable rural areas. To benefit from these networks requires active involvement from the farmers.

7. Next steps to move on

It is essential to be innovative constantly and to think in new ways. Kathrin Aslaksby aims to be innovative based on traditions and the locally available resources. Important future steps are advertising direct sales to customers and developing a broader range of cheese productions. Moreover, Kathrin Aslaksby plans to collaborate with other small-scale producers, e.g., local breweries.

8. Quote and recommendation of the promoter

The biggest revenue of seasonal farming is to live and work in the best place during summer and to be close to nature. A big challenge of receiving visitors is to communicate that visitors are not entering a museum but a private home site and to be explicit about privacy restrictions.

When taking over a farm, look closely at how local and on-farm resources can be developed, utilized, and cultivated to reduce the need for external input, sustain the farm economy, and reduce climate footprint.