Torup is situated on a peninsula between the sea and a fjord, 60 km to the northwest of Copenhagen. Its 356 inhabitants enjoy a range of initiatives and activities, including a music festival, Torup Booktown featuring cultural events, farmers’ markets, repair cafés, common village dinners, a commuter-hub with common office space, jazz concerts, alternative transport, local council, and, most recently, the Danish University Extension.
Such initiatives build on a strong local tradition which has resulted, inter alia, in a parent-initiated school and kindergarten, a common meeting house, an intensely restored railway station, and a utility building containing a café, a bakery, and an organic shop. A group of people who moved in 30 years ago to form a community based on organic principles were instrumental to some of these developments.. Over the years, this particular part of the village has turned into a highly attractive enclave.
Those examples build on local initiatives and local competences. This also applies to the latest major step in terms of expanding the village with 100 new eco-homes over the next few years. To this end, a group of locals established a fund, Torup Fonden, to acquire the land, rather than leaving this to outside investors. Currently, this fund is planning a Torup-wide smart and sustainable heating system based on solar-power. With this backdrop, Torup won the 2019 National Village of the Year award.
People in and around Torup are resourceful, not necessarily economically, but certainly personally and culturally. To enhance the common use of competences and equipment, the village will capitalise on its involvement in the Smart Rural 21 project by bringing this wide range of resources to the forefront, and making them accessible and visible, especially to newcomers.
Village strategy :
No rural community will thrive if not for massive amounts of voluntary activities. The local democracy, Torup Ting; the music festival, Himmelstorm; Torup Booktown; Torup Open University, Torup Repair Cafe, and the recent addition, Torup Climbing Club are such examples.
Some such activities, however, get close to actual work. In the case of Torup Co-Op, a retired farmer, Ole Peder Olsen, along with his fellow voluntary worker, Vibeke Anderson, give a hand in the shop and delivery several days a week. The local Torup Co-Op needs this kind of assistance, in particular during the busy Summer months.
The art of sitting
A sizeable bench suddenly appeared on the Village Green next to the common Village Hall. It is LARGE: rumours have it that the bench was built for giants.... of which we have a few in Torup.Anyhow, it's a piece of art in itself.
Torup Booktown goes international
At a (virtual) Booktown Conference in Catalonia on 26h May 2021, the chairman of Torup Booktown, Peter Plant, had an input on this local initiative, which has been running for 15 years on a voluntary basis.
'The focus is on second hand books, naturally, but Torup Booktown reaches far beyond the books themselves. Torup Booktown is of cultural importance, and an essential contribution to rural development. Recently, we added a local branch of the People's University (Open University) to the booktown', said Peter Plant.
Zero Carbon Building
Large excavators are now in operation at Hvideland, the extension of Torup, to prepare the land for building. Sewage systems, water recycling, IT-connections, electricity: all this has to be coordinated. As a rule, building sites are far from being Zero Carbon emission oriented. But not in this case. The building company, Barslund, takes great care to minimize the carbon footprint: 'We use electric excavators wherever we can, and the big machines run on bio-fuel. It is a bit more costly, but to our mind, in the long run, the building industry needs to move to Zero Carbon approaches. In this particular case, the reduction is 88% , ie. 76 tonnes less of the carbon footprint of conventional building sites. And the extra cost is a mere 3% of the total investment,' says Poul-Erik Olsen, Director of Marketing.
A working group under the Danish Parliament visited the site on June 24th. They were impressed. One member of the group said: "We need to create a sustainable building industry, together, like in the case of Hvideland. This site represents concrete action: we have come to the end of evasive statements. Together, we'll walk the talk.'
"Dining in the field. Dining on the beach. Dining in the open."
This is the basic concept for FRIspisning, i.e. Dining in the Open. Based on a local initiative, common dinners will be offered across the Halsnæs peninsula in 6 different locations. During the Summer, such events will take place in and around Torup, ranging from Torup Spisehus, the local restaurant, to a local camp-site, and to a community-based farm.
A local fund, Halsnæsfonden, and the local food organisation, Spisekammer Halsnæs, have come together to pull this off.
Rural Development: Green joint activities as a strategy for sustainability
Torup was the host at a webinar on June 10th, 2021, on the issue of Rural Development. With a number of examples, ranging from Scotland to Denmark, the point was made that green joint activities serve as a strategy for rural development with a focus on sustainability. In the case of Torup, a current example is the expansion of the village (via a local fund, Torup Fonden) with a new part, known as Hvideland. This, indeed, was the location of the webinar, to be viewed here. Panel contributors at the webinar included other local initiatives, the ministry of rural affairs, a university, and the author of the report behind the webinar. Peter Plant, the local representative, explained that sustainability, as in the case of Torup, benefits from being unfolded in four dimensions: ecology, economy, social, cultural
- and that local initiatives need to consider the organisational setup in relation to the actual activities: in some cases a loose organisation is sufficient, in other cases you need to run a tight ship.
The complete report is available in Danish: Grønne Fællesskaber
Photo by: Anne Prytz Schaldemose
Torup residents now enjoy a life-size boardgame ‘Ting’
Torup’s local artist Ilon Lodewijks has created a life-size boardgame with thematic links to sustainability – ‘Ting’ – which was been built with the support of the local council (Torup Ting) and a local cultural fund.
“No other mammal on earth is dependent on things the way we are. We cannot live without our things, but which ones are most important? What things do we need to preserve at any cost and who has the power to decide that?”
Interested to know more about the game? Watch the video below…
Torup’s Book Town contributing to small-scale rural development
The Torup Book Town, established in 2006 and chosen as one of the world’s 10 best by the UK’s The Guardian has been supporting a small-scale rural development by investing revenues from its book sales into the Torup Book Town Association. The Association, in turn, organises writers’ classes, and authors’ talks, some of which in collaboration with other local institutions and initiatives, such as the local library, the local church, Torup DOKby (film), the local art gallery, or the local music organisation.
Collaboration of this sort creates synergies and cultural cross-over events. A recent initiative is the creation of a local branch of the Danish University Extension, Folkeuniversitetet, i.e. the People’s University.
‘Tools & Talents’ sets out to help with caretaker tasks
Torup is kicking off a ‘Tools & Talents’ project within the framework of its Smart Rural 21 participation. A first project initiative will combine local resources such as tools and machinery with the talents, competences and skills of the locals to help out with caretaker tasks, and will be supported by an app.
The Torup Temp company, Grønnevirke, is responsible for the organisational set-up, while two major national funds, Nordeafonden and Landdistriktsmidler, are supporting the initiative. As to the ‘Torup handy(wo)men’, these will be a mix of volunteers, unemployed people, and other locals who will provide their services as janitors, caretakers and handy(wo)men for a salary.
Torup promotes sustainable transport via Sykkel
Practising sustainability on the ground, Torup is encouraging the use of electric bikes of all kinds: cargo bikes, sail bikes, bikes for elderly, and even a bike-trailer tent, which unfolds to a surprising degree. Anyone can find the Sykkel (i.e. bicycle) electric bikes for rent next to the local station and practise the benefits of light transport, i.e. transport with a tiny environmental footprint. The Sykkels also share their premises with another Torup sustainability initiative – the Repair Cafe Torup.
The Sykkel project is supported by the Local Action Group (LAG) covering the Torup region.
Covid-19 gives a boost to Torup co-operative store
The Covid-19 pandemic has given a 50% boost in the turnover of the Torup co-operative store (COOP) as people have moved to their summer homes to escape from bigger cities.
Most small villages have lost their COOPs to supermarkets in bigger towns, but this is not the case in Torup, thanks to the locals’ commitment and the voluntary work that supports employees’ daily tasks.
The Torup COOP was set up in 1920 and it is an important meeting place for the villagers. Daily grocery shopping and food stuff for animals is the backbone of any COOP. But the Torup one also serves as the local bank and post office, hosts an art gallery, and the local Booktown.
Chairman of Torup council, Peter Plant, appointed to national fund jury
A large Danish philanthropic fund: Realdania, designed to co-fund bottom-up projects throughout the country, has appointed Peter Plant, the chairman of the local village council – Torup Ting – to be one of five members of its jury for the coming three years.
With a yearly budget of nearly 10 million EUR, the fund is a major player in rural development, occasionally co-funding projects with Local Action Groups (LAGs).
Torup receives its 2019 ‘Village of the year’ plaque
Torup has just received its commemorative plaque for ‘Village of the year’ for 2019. The theme of the award was sustainability and Torup came in first among many competitors in Denmark due to its longstanding tradition of combining theory and practice. Torup’s approach combines ecology, economy, social, and cultural sustainability.
The commemorative plaque was just returned from the Danish National Museum where it had been displayed until now as part of a larger exhibition. It was instituted by the National Council for Rural Affairs and the Joint Council for Villages, and sponsored by Forenet Kredit.
Torup schools – a success story
A village of 356 inhabitants, Torup’s two schools teach approximately 250 students! What? The schools are good and successful – to the extent that they have managed to attract students from outside of Torup, that’s how.
The Halsnæs Lilleskole teaches 140 students between kindergarten to the 9th grade; it was established 25 years ago as a result of a local initiative and is subsidised by the state. Its overall teaching approach is project based.
The New Nordic Youth teaches 110 students and is a continuation school; it was set up four years ago by a private, local initiative, backed by public funds. It is highly modern with a focus on entrepreneurship, technology, IT, design.
Photo credit: Leif Tuxen/Realdania
Torup’s population on the rise
Torup is experiencing population growth – a phenomenon which has classified it as a Warm Zone – and will respond by building 100 new homes over the next few years. This new development, named ‘Hvideland’ after a local farm, is the result of a conscious effort to regain the local power to manage such important initiatives.
The Torup Ting has established a fund to facilitate the process, including planning permissions land purchases, and building facilities.
Already two incoming families have settled in to the main building of the old Hvideland farm and began massive reconstruction and upgrading of the property. These six people, two of them children, are true ‘Hvideland’ pioneers.
Photo credit: Mette Johnsen
The Torup farmers’ market: what’s it all about?
The farmer’s marker in Torup runs all summer long, which makes winter a time for preparation, when all 25 stallholders meet up informally to agree on tasks and market themes. The market is organised at the back of the restored Dyssekilde Railway Station and attracts up to 500-600 visitors, but more importantly, it is an informal meeting place for local people.
The basic concept is: ‘Food Mileage’, emphasising the importance of local food – here, thanks to the Dyssekilde Station Garden and its ‘Edible Garden’ concept, they have ‘metre food’, rather than ‘kilometre food’. Moreover, the Torup market is a founding member of the Association for Local Food.
Photo credit: Jens Drejer & Helene Andreasen
Light in the Dark
Due to Covid pandemic restrictions, the traditional Christmas service in Torup Church on 24th of December was cancelled with very short notice, much to the disappointment of many villagers. As an innovative and swift response, the local priest lit up candles in every niche in the church wall in Torup. A moving, picturesque, and symbolic sight: Light in the Dark.
Photo by Metta Myrna
Torup is the Village of the Month…
Torup has become the 1st Village of the Month of the Smart Rural 21 Project. While the village couldn't organise its traditional Christmas Market this year (photos are from previous years), a lot has happened locally in 2020.
Discover what this small Danish village has to offer and browse through a wealth of information and videos here on Torup's page...
Torup gets own General Practitioner
Torup’s 350 residents are set to have their very own General Practitioner (GP) as of 4 January 2021 as Dr. Anne Louise Born Sylvest opens her medical practice in the village. This will benefit both the residents and Dr. Sylvest because it will allow more time, greater contact and proximity with patients.
This private initiative is supported by the ‘Halsnæs-Gribskov’ Local Action Group, whose leader is the chairman of the Torup Ting village council.
Watch the video below to find out more.
Torup gaining recognition as a successful rural area
Torup has been recognised as a ‘Warm Zone’ – a rural area that is successfully increasing the number of its inhabitants – by a Danish national project which looked into criteria such as innovation, openness, social cohesion, and helpfulness.
The project produced a report that may serve for inspiration to other rural areas across Europe.
Photo credit: Mette Johnsen
Torup sets out to stimulate public debate
Torup recently launched a series of high-level seminars and talks with guest speakers and the general public under the heading ‘Torup Booktown University Extension’.
Aiming to foster public debate and inspired by the ‘Torup Booktown’, the November 2020 edition of the event discussed the US presidential election and its implications with Associate Professor Niels Bjerre-Poulsen.
Peter Plant talks about Torup in four inspiring videos
Kirsten Birke Lund (Smart Rural 21 national expert for Denmark) visited Torup and prepared four inspiring interviews with Peter Plant (the chairman of the local village council, Torup Ting) about their smart initiatives, including e-bikes, local services, crowd funding, open university, local school and kindergarten and some ambitious plans for receiving 250 newcomers. Watch the video interviews below.
The first Smart Communities Café hosted by Torup
The first Smart Communities Café was hosted online by Torup on 19 November 2020. Peter Plant (Torup Coordinator) talked about local democracy, community engagement, volunteer work, crowd funding, and much more…
1st Smart Communities Café, Torup (Denmark), 19 November 2020
During the 1st Café, hosted by Torup (Denmark), Peter Plant was telling about their local democracy, voluntary work, community fund, how they engage community members through ‘Torup Ting’ and about their smart plans for the future.
Torup life-size boardgame
The ‘Ting’ boardgame has thematic links to sustainability.
Torup gets own General Practitioner
Dr. Anne Louise Born Sylvest has set out to open her own medical practice in Torup, DK, on 1 January 2021, enabling the rural area to benefit from a close proximity between the community and a General Practitioner (GP).
Peter Plant explains what Torup Ting is and how it supports community engagement in Torup (Denmark).
Peter Plant explains how Torup managed to sustain its school and kindergarden, and even "have a university"(!)
Peter Plant talks about how they are preparing for receiving up to 250 newcomers to Torup and the way they managed to buy the land for new housing and sustain community services through crowdfunding.
"Oh yeah, we always have a song. And somebody would write a new song for each occasion." (Peter Plant, Torup)
Past and Present of Torup
Kirsten Birke Lund (Smart Rural 21 national expert) is talking to Peter Plant about how Torup village has developed over the past decades to become a vibrant rural hub and "the kind of things they like to do in Torup".
Main village contact
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