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Farms a valuable heritage for the University

Field and a farmyard.
A popular pick-your-own option for all sorts of cabbage began in 2020 at Norra Knästorp. At Christmas time, crowds of Lund residents were seen walking with swaying plumes of kale towards the city. Photo:Emma Sandberg

Why does Lund University manage farms in Skåne? It’s a matter of tradition. From 1666 and for a long time afterwards the entire University was funded by the farms that dowager queen Hedvig Eleonora donated – known as “akademiska hemman” – the academic homesteads. These are still managed by the University and the current value of the properties is approximately SEK 700 million.

The Akademihemman Foundation is the only general foundation at the University – the yield can be used for anything that promotes the University, says Klemens Ganslandt, head of endowment administration at LU.

A farming couple.
The farmers at Biskopshaga, Joel Månsson and Emma Sandberg.

The hens are pecking at the ground in the farmyard in the pale sunshine when I meet the young farming couple Emma Sandberg and Joel Månsson at the farm in Norra Knästorp, just south of Lund. Everything here is calm in the early spring and the soil is still cold and hard.

“But the spring farming season will start soon, and then we will have a lot to do…” says Joel Månsson.

A hen.
Photo: Kennet Ruona

He is the fourth generation of his family to lease the University’s land, which is considered to be among Europe’s best arable land. He has run arable farming at Biskopshagen together with his partner Emma Sandberg since 2016.

“We have opted for ecological cultivation as the health of the soil and the wellbeing of the crops is close to our hearts…”, she says.

"If we had not got the farms 350 years ago, there would not have been a university"

Portrait of woman in front of farmstead.
 Solving lease disputes and attending to agreements with farmers are part of property manager Camilla Hansson’s everyday work. Photo: Kennet Ruona

Biskopshagen has been owned by Lund University since 1682, when the University resumed after the Scanian War. The dowager queen’s donation in 1666 was on a grand scale comprising 1 200 farms, many of which had been taken from the church. At that time the plots of land were small, hence the large number of them. When the Scanian War broke out, the king chose to take back most of the farms to finance the military. The considerably fewer farms that remained, and which are still managed by the University, were used to secure research and education in Lund until as late as the 1820s, when the state began to fund the University through direct government funding. Today, 17 large farms remain within the Akademihemman Foundation.

“If we had not got the farms 350 years ago, there would not have been a university. They funded everything for a long period. The professors received their salaries in kind – such as meat, eggs and sacks of grain”, says Camilla Hansson, who is property manager for the farms.

Being a tenant has its pros and cons

Joel Månsson is the fourth generation in his family to live in the farmhouse, whose oldest parts are from the 1820s. Photo: Kennet Ruona

At Biskopshagen, Joel Månsson and Emma Sandberg now live in the major farmhouse, whose oldest parts are from the 1820s. The garden spreads out almost like a park that ends down by the river, Höje å. Even older history is brought to mind by the barrow, a listed ancient monument. Being a tenant farmer has its pros and cons.

“The major concern is uncertainty about the future, will the city be allowed to expand onto the land? The ties to the land become stronger with every generation…”, says Emma Sandberg.

It is also difficult to decide how much should be invested in the house. And the bank is not keen to lend for expansion either. But when it was time for Joel Månsson to take over the farm from his parents the lease was a salvation.

“It saved family harmony. In principle, it is financially impossible to buy out siblings today in a handover, the farms are worth many, many millions of Swedish crowns”, says Joel Månsson.

Donations a way to decide what aim will be supported

Klemens Ganslandt is head of endowment administration at the University. Akademihemman is one of the larger foundations he is responsible for, but there are many others – large and small, in fact close to 700. There are many who want to donate and the total value of the University’s foundations amounted to SEK 4.3 billion in 2020.

However, for various reasons the University cannot always accept donations.

“On one occasion there were discussions about taking over a castle. But we saw immediately that it would have taken a lot of money to renovate it and so we had to decline”, says Klemens Ganslandt.

Portrait of man outdoors.
In his work on new donations, Krister Åstrand sometimes deals with donated farms. Photo: Kennet Ruona

Krister Åstrand is legal counsel at LU’s endowment administration and works on new donations that are always on the way in. The flow varies considerably between years. In most cases, it concerns assets other than farm properties, but there have also been such donations in recent years.

“Most donations are through the wills of private individuals who in most cases do not have children who can inherit them. It is a way for them to decide what aim will be supported”, says Krister Åstrand and adds that funds otherwise go the Swedish Inheritance Fund.


















Klemens Ganslandt supervises donations to Lund University, which began with the queen’s donation of farms in Skåne 350 years ago.

About LUM

The first edition of Lund University Magazine – LUM – was published 1968. Today, the magazine reaches all employees and also people outside the university. The magazine is published six times per year. Editor Jan Olsson.

LUM website in Swedish

Editorial staff

Jan Olsson

046-222 94 79

jan [dot] olsson [at] kommunikation [dot] lu [dot] se


Minna Wallén-Widung

046-222 82 01

minna [dot] wallen-widung [at] kommunikation [dot] lu [dot] se