Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak

Personal

Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak is a biologist specializing in marine biology. She was born in 1956 and grew up in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden with her parents and her little brother Lars.

After her graduation from the University of Gothenburg in 1979, she and her partner Peter moved to the island of Lyr on the west coast of Sweden where they were married that same year. In addition to working as a substitute teacher, and renovating the farmhouse they had bought, Susanne held courses in ecological cultivation and composting. And her ecologically-approved vegetable garden grew along with her insights into the natural ecological cycle, of which all organic life is a part.

In 1981 Susanne was employed as a process technician at a petrochemical company in nearby Stenungssund. After 15 years’ employment, her own gardening business had grown quite large. “During my last summer on the job, I brought flowers, cuttings, plants and various vegetables to work with me every day, for coworkers who had bought them on order. The switchover sort of snuck up on me until I suddenly realized, ‘Wow, this must be what I really want to do’,” Susanne explains.

At the same time, her husband Peter and his business partner had built up their own company raising and breeding clams. In the autumn of 1996 the clam business was moved to Mollösund and their old place by the ferry berth at the island of Lyr was vacant. Locating her newly-started business there was just as natural to her as was her concept of combining cultivation, food, courses and culture. Her business was built up simultaneously to phasing out her industrial job. She bought a greenhouse, 15 000 plants were raised and the shop was opened on 25 May 1997. Her business thrived, the media took notice of her successful efforts to cultivate ecologically-approved produce in this unusually sparsely-populated coastal area, and she was also awarded several business-innovation prizes.

All the while, Susanne was thinking about an ecological form of burial. The three principles; mulching, rotting and burning, were a constant element her composting courses, along with the knowledge that humans were not given the opportunity to be a part of the ecological cycle with traditional forms of burials. When she finally had the chance concentrate on burial, with her only concern being her vegetable business during the follow autumn and winter, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. “It was like taking a pause in life that one can seldom afford. The calm hours spent in my greenhouse gave me peace of mind, and it suddenly become obvious to me how human beings could also be fully integrated with the natural ecological cycle that we are an inherent part of,” says Susanne.

Trial introduction of the idea to smaller groups was met by positive reactions during 1999 and 2000, and in May 2001 the first press conference was held.

Now, Promessa Organic AB is a reality, and technical development is underway for the first facility to offer ecological burial as an alternative to today’s forms of burial. The facility is scheduled to start operations.