The Soil of the Midnight Sun

By Jeny Wolther

     One-third of Norway, “The Land of the Midnight Sun” lies north of the Arctic Circle where from mid-May into July there is continuous daylight; conversely, for part of the winter only twilight occurs at midday. Oslo, in the south, is the capital of Norway. Jeny Wolther was our soils collector in the unique region of the world known as Nakholmen Island. She did not have to thaw out this earth before she could collect the soil. Here’s her story: 

     "Nakholmen is small island in the inner part of Oslofjord – 15 minutes from the center of Oslo. There are 182 cottages a party house and a shop on an area of 36 acres. During the summer there are about 500 persons, long a summer tradition, in their well equipped cottages.

Norway cottages

     The island is a public free area so casual visitors have an opportunity to visit. Those who visit us for day trips should be aware that there are no public restrooms available. Facilities are available on two other small islands nearby Langoyene and Hovedoya.

     The historic origin of occupancy of the island is that it was unlawful to go ashore in the old days. At that time many people rowed or sailed to the island and camped out for the long summer. They were called Landlayers “Party People” and real hullabaloos followed their jolly summer life.

Norway - Common Ground 191

     In the 1920’s the city authorities found that they must have better control of the merry life on the island and as a helping hand to the limited means Landlayers they parceled out small building sites. All of a sudden there grew up about 200 cottages on the island and the Society of Cottage Owners was formed in 1923. The cottages are usually inherited, there are just a few new owners. Often we can find 4th and 5th generation Nakholmeners in the cottages today.


     The state is the owner of the ground and have, through contracts, imposed strong restrictions as to size and how the cottages shall be built. Originally it was permitted to build up to 25 square meters including a veranda. In the meantime the area restriction has been modified and today the maximum area has been increased to 32 square meters plus loft rooms or 40 square meters on one floor."

     The Society of Cottage Owners, through all of these years, has done much to bring the blessings of civilization to the occupants. In the beginning there were neither water or electricity on the island, water was caught up in a cistern and a water boat provided the cottages with clean water through the season. In the 1950’s we were tied to public water works and electricity but we have not yet been tied to the sewer system.

     So with all modern conveniences installed, the soil of Norway’s “Twilight Zone” has been added to the Common Ground 191 project. Thank you, Norway.

Soil Collector Jeny - seated at head of the table - Norway

"Our Soil Collector Jeny - seated at the head of the table"


Jeny Wolther,
Oslo, Norway






All images and text © Copyright 2018 Common Ground 191 - All rights reserved