Within the last couple of years, 10 desolate houses have been removed in the village of Hørdum. The work has been funded by Thisted municipality and the special reserve set aside by the council and the Danish government to improve living conditions in villages and rural areas by getting rid of old derelict houses.
The project has had a profound influence on the village, creating a sense of optimism amongst people in Hørdum who participate very actively in the community. The residents association in Hørdum is deeply involved in the project, working out ways to make the empty lots part of village life instead of just empty gaps in a row of houses. Up until now the project has been successful.
The Scouts and the Old Train Station
People in Hørdum like the old train station because it symbolizes the rise of the modern Hørdum with the establishment of the railway through Thy in 1882. Before that the village of Hørdum was centered round the medieval church located about 1.5 km east of today’s village. The train station is closely tied to the identity of the village, even though other identity creating factors also have aided in shaping Hørdum.
Hørdum Residents Association has been running the building as a community house since Hørdum station became an unmanned halt on the line and the station became obsolete. As a community house the old station housed many meetings, dances and family celebrations but over the years the premises became outdated. And so the residents association decided to hand over the building to the scouts who were looking for a place in Hørdum. On top of that Thisted municipality gave the scouts two empty lots at Sportsvej 22-24, close to the station, that had just been cleared. This way the council saves money on maintaining the lots, but more importantly, boys and girls in Hørdum have now got a good place to be scouts for many years to come.
The older generations in Hørdum are also very active. There are no less than two petanque and croquet clubs in the village hosting annual regional tournaments as well as tournaments with neighbouring clubs. So the two clubs were happy to receive the lot at Tårnvej 19 from Thisted municipality once the house there had been removed. The council even paid for the materials to establish the new petanque court, which doubles as a parking lot next to the football field. The two clubs are planning on getting a portable restroom trailer by the petanque court and perhaps also an AED.
Nyhåbsvej (New Hope Road)
At Nyhåbsvej 11 the planting of little pine trees that will eventually become Christmas trees is almost symbolic of the whole Green Lots project, planting new hope in declining villages. Its a win win situation where the trees can be enjoyed while growing as well as when they become Christmas trees in the homes in Hørdum. The trees are cared for by a volunteer work group that get together a few times over the year to weed between the rows. In the back of the field is a bench where the volunteers can enjoy refreshments sponsored by the residents association. During winter when the weeding is on stand by, the work group make sure the pavement in front of Nyhåbsvej 11 is free of snow and ice.
The Goats at Nyhåbsvej 13
At Nyhåbsvej 13 was once located a grocery store. Its been a long time since the last carton of milk was handed over the counter and the building removed, but since then nothing has been done about the empty lot. Originally the owner was planning on building a new house but the plan was never realised and now something entirely different has taken over the lot: Goats have populated the field trotting happily about bringing life to the formerly bleak and empty lot.
Already it has become a tradition for families in Hørdum to make the goats the object of an evening stroll, bringing them bits of old bread. Next to the field is a bench and table much used by children and their daycares in Hørdum to stop by and enjoy a packed lunch while the goats eagerly await the leftovers.
The place is run by Hørdum Residents Association, who keeps the pavement free of snow etc., and the local farmer who owns the goats and sees to them. A neighbour supplies the water. The field is enclosed by an electric fence paid for by Thisted municipality and installed by the residents association. Midtthy El, the electrician in nearby Snedsted, hooked up of the fence to the grid for free and Thy-Mors Energi, the local energy company, supplied the electric meter.
Establishing a village green has been achieved by all parties involved working together towards a joint goal. As a result Hørdum now has a place for villagers and visitors to take a break and enjoy the entertainment.
Privately Owned Lots
Not all the vacant lots that emerge in Hørdum when a derelict building is removed become publicly available. The lot at Legindvej 2 was bought by its neighbour, who runs an agricultural service supply business and needed more storage space. The lot at Tårnvej 3 was divided equally between the two neighbors enabling them to extend their gardens. Helping local businesses grow and increasing the property value of neighboring lots is one of the goals of the Green Lots project. Eventually someone might even wish to build a new house on one of the vacant lots.
What Happens Next?
Hørdum Residents Association is busy making plans for the future and sees Thisted municipality as a helpful partner in the process. For instance the Green Lots project has generated 500.000 DKK from the Danish Ministry of Housing, Urban and Rural Affairs to improve living standards in Hørdum. Thisted municipality tops up the amount with 1 million DKK making it a grant that will definitely make a difference in Hørdum. By arranging community meetings the residents association in Hørdum is eager to involve the whole community in decisions about the future of the village. Thus the idea of a hop garden at Nyhåbsvej 5 emerged. The proposer is a local beer enthusiast with brewing for a hobby. Time will tell if the village green that is planned for Nyhåbsvej 5 will eventually supply hops for beer brewing. Another suggestion centres around the establishing of pathways around the village. In any case there is no shortage of wishes, hopes and expectations for the future of Hørdum and the village motto excellently comprises the spirit of the Green Lots project:
“Together we can achieve more and success is always best enjoyed in the company of others”.