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Småbönders - A Living Village


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The name of the village, Småbönders, needs no explanation. The name explains who the village people are. This little village is idyllic and the people are industrious. No wonder people are proud of the saying "Småbönders - the best in the World"[1]. This peculiar village is successful despite its position, hidden in nature, away from large cities. Except for the nearest village, there are few who know it exists. Rarely does an outsider venture to visit the village. Småbönders is the most easterly village in the northern part of Swedish-speaking Österbotten. From Karleby it is an hour's drive east to Småbönders. It is deeply embedded in the woods in Finnish-speaking Finland. On three sides are the Finnish communities of Evijärvi, Veteli and Kaustinen. The village is surrounded by four church villages an equal distance apart. These are the above mentioned Finnish-speaking plus Swedish-speaking Terjärv church village. Because of the closeness to the neighboring Finnish communities, as youngsters we spent most of our childhood in the Finnish communities during the weekends. Most of what we liked happened there. Surely it is the same for today's youth. It's no wonder that nearly three of four mothers in the village are Finnish-speaking.

The road to Småbönders, known as Småböndersvägen (road), loops through a hilly landscape along the Kronoby river. Beautiful lakes lie on both sides of the road. The occasional tourist who happens to come to the village is surprised by the experience. In addition to the school and shops that are the backbone of the village, there are also a cafe, bank and post office. The latter has been discontinued because of the diminishing population and the modern times we live in.

Småbönders Handelslag, which is village-owned, is a unique business. It is one of the few such businesses that it still found in Finland. There one can buy food, clothing, household utensils and farm machinery. One can buy something as small as a sewing needle or a large farm machine. As a 15-year-old I bought a tractor there. The business supplies the residents of the village with everything that is necessary. It is also a gathering place for farmers who discuss the problems of the country and the world. Many hundreds of years before the first records were written, in Småbönders there was a group of businessmen who had their headquarters at Widjeskog. They traveled south along the waterways with their boats full of merchandise and conducted their business affairs. It is said they went down to Persia. At that time it was easy to travel along the waterways. The water level then was many meters higher than it is now. Because of land elevation such boat travel is no longer possible. All over Finland there are villages like Småbönders alongside thoroughfares, away from large cities where there are better possibilities for the youth. Unfortunately such villages die away in sparsely populated areas. Småbönders defies this tendency.

This village is an example of what can be achieved through initiative, industriousness and cooperation. In addition to trade and industry, there are other activities such as youth groups, theater and many music groups. One could ask, why is it that such a small village with limited resources is such a success. It must be that the best and most energetic have stayed in the village and worked together for its future. Evidence of this is manifested when Småbönders was elected the "Village of the year 2008 in Swedish Österbotten". More information can be found at www.smabonders.fi

Donald Widjeskog

Norden August 7, 2010

English translation by June Pelo

  1. Småböders är bäst i världen

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