Monday Muse - Harriet Olafsdottir
There is a little village in the northern Atlantic called Æðuvík (from Æða meaning "duck" and vík meaning "bay"), a place on the southernmost tip of Eysturoy island. A calm place of only a few residents - living together with nature and their beautiful creatures.
The home of Harriet Olafsdóttir av Gørðum, a fifth generation young farmer, a mother of a two year old and a foster child. A wife and a creative power woman, always with her feet on the ground. Literally.
It all started here, 33 years ago when Harriet was born into a family who has dedicated their lives to local farming. She grew up in the farm she is living in now, surrounded by beautiful memories from from her own childhood paired with the ones she enjoys with her own family now.
Always surrounded by the most purest nature, sheep, horses, dogs and all sorts of birds.
“Being a farmer is a full-time job, but you also have to think out of the box”
It is clear to see that her creative mind has no limits. Integrating her surrounding in her art and photography brings pure joy. Being a passionate photographer with a farm, you can guess who is in front of her lens… that’s right, her animals are her all time models which she is decorating with what the surrounded nature offers her. A wonderful addition of an income which is more than needed to pay for the farm expenses.
Curious in her art & photography? Click here to read more.
But that is not the only thing she does besides farming. Together with her husband, she is also the owner of @hanusarstova (-> check it out on Instagram ;-)), where they host in-home dinners, have a rental guesthouse/airbnb and do farm tours.
We were happy to meet Harriet for the second time this week. The first time we got to know about her was through social media, when Maja (also native Faroese and founder of minimalisma) reached out and subsequently visited Harriet's farm with her family last summer. She immediately fell in love with the place and the personal touch, Harriet puts into her work. Her warm and friendly soul caught us right away, so the idea to collaborate wasn’t far away. The idea of integrating our natural fabrics to this unique surrounding was just right, so we were having our Autumn/Winter 2023 campaign shot at her stunning place. An interaction between land, the sea and the beating hearts of animals and humans.
We couldn’t hold ourselves back to get to know her and to hear more about her life as a young farmer up in the north. So here is to you a little Q&A with Harriet…
Q & A
Grab yourself a cup of coffee and dive with us into the world of a young soul, living her dream on a far-away island.
Meet the woman behind @byolafsdottir
Q: Dear Harriet, what is your favourite spot on Earth and why?
A: “Vøruvatn, a lake just above the village - because it’s one of the most peaceful and beautiful places you can ever imagen. It has provided hours of fun, reflection and mindfulness for our family as well as watering our land and animals. Also home - because I love our home and view.”
Q: What do you feel, being completely surrounded by nature and all its weather changes? Can you describe what it does to you?
A: “I grew up in this landscape and am used to the weather conditions constantly changing, so it doesn’t really bother me much - because the spring and summer usually make up for the bad winters. ALTHOUGH this year it has been extra hard, because we’ve had a really bad winter and no real spring/summer. Especially as a farmer this does affect me, I worry more - especially about the animals, their well being and also how we will pull through in the years to come if this is the new normal.”
Q: What would your dream life look like if you had endless possibilities?
“I have a dream to turn my farm into a heritage breed sanctuary, making sure our heritage breeds of sheep, horses, geese and ducks avoid getting extinct. A sanctuary where people could come visit the farm, say hi to the animals and learn about Faroese breeds, farming, the circle of life and culture. Also of-course that people and most of all the government would support a sanctuary like this, so that it could be possible. My heart beats for this place and even though it is extremely hard to be a farmer at times, it is also educational, giving and a perfect place to raise our kids. Running a sanctuary like this would be my dream life - hopefully my dream will come true one day.“
Q: Many young Faroese women leave the islands to study and discover other countries. Was there a precise moment when you’ve realised that you wanted to be a farmer for life?
A: Actually when I was a kid growing up on the farm with my grandfather, I always used to say that my dream job was to be a full time sheep farmer. Back then the usually response I would get was “No one can be a full time sheep farmer in The Faroe Islands”, that I needed to choose a real carrier and aim bigger than “Just” being a farmer. Well today I am a full time farmer, proving that if you work hard enough and think out of the box, the impossible can become possible.
Q: What advise would you give other young women, who dream of building up their own farm?
A: “That sometimes it is good to think out of the box, to trust your gut and go against the flow. People will laugh and say mean things, hell they will even work against you just because you are doing things differently - especially being a woman in farming. BUT if you hold your course and most of all stay true to yourself, good things will come. And if people give you a hard time, remember there is an army of likeminded female farmers right there online to support you - I am right here with you anytime. Also sometimes it is good to look further back in time (like hundreds of years) to remind yourself what you are doing, why you are doing it and who you are doing it for.”
Q: What do you think is the biggest issue for women of your age, are facing today?
A: “In my experience, prejudice.”
Q: What were you like as a kid? Do you see you in your daughter, character and behavior?
A: “I was adventurous, stubborn, quiet and a bit of a trouble maker. The first time a ran away from home I was two, I didn’t go far, only to the other side of the village to my grandparents, but I had packed my bags and everything myself. I was also a bit of a loner, my best friends were sheep and Lady the dog. I’ve always had a vivid imagination, big dreams and the will to do everything myself. I (and my family) can totally see myself in Maja Lý - she is the sweetest little girl, but she is also very opinionated about things, stubborn and has to do everything herself. She is quiet, loves to play with her dollhouse and small toy animals, but also loves to be outside. She loves being around animals and is really good at taking care of them.”
Q: What is the most spontaneous thing you’ve done lately?
A: “I’m a pretty spontaneous and impulsive person in general. But the most spontaneous thing this year would probably be going on a five day long road-trip in Iceland with a dear friend.”
We are so inspired by your passion, your strength, positivity and your courage to do what feels right.
Thank you, Harriet for giving us a glimpse of your world.
“ My favourite time of the year is Spring. It is the time for new life, new hope and brighter times.”