My garden

Ever wondered what ski superstar and Syngenta Group​ ambassador Aleksander Kilde does off-season? He brings another of his passions to life – and in 2022, he swapped the snow for the soil to grow a vegetable garden. 

Healthy food is very important to Aleksander Aamodt Kilde as an Olympic medalist and a World Champion. More than that, he is committed to raising awareness about the challenges posed by climate change and food security, and how agriculture can be part of the solution.

Firsthand experience of growing food was the ideal way to deepen his knowledge and enrich his collaboration with Syngenta Group, our 57,000 employees and the farmers we serve. He also had a personal goal: to grow enough fresh, healthy produce to cook dinner for friends after the harvest. 

Healthy eating starts with a seed

The first step was to get a little help. Aleksander turned to Syngenta experts to make sure he had the right seeds, the right soil, the right amount of water and the right expertise for the small terrace garden at his home in Innsbruck, Austria.

" It’s important to me to connect with nature and deepen my knowledge of sustainable food production by learning at first hand how to grow food. I also care very much about the important role of food in society, how it brings together families, friends and even me and my team. "

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, Syngenta Group Ambassador

Which vegetables should he plant for maximum nutrition, and which would thrive in his European garden? Again, Aleksander asked for advice, this time from his social media followers. They did not disappoint and cast more than 28,000 votes with spinach, broccoli, peas and iceberg lettuce coming out top.

The growing season was a learning journey, all about the timing of planting, soil nutrition, plant health and much more. When the first shoots appeared, Aleksander got a taste of one of the many challenges faced by farmers, unexpectedly cold weather. This is just one of the threats to crops, alongside heat, pests and diseases. 

“Growing healthy plants for a good harvest isn’t as easy as I thought. To stick to the basic rules – good soil, enough sun and the right amount of water – is key. I’ve also learned that for plant health I need to protect my garden from the cold, too much humidity, from pests and too much sun!” 

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, Syngenta Group Ambassador

Despite the weather there were soon healthy shoots showing: zucchini, tomato, cucumber, radish and salad. It was all thanks to the right conditions for planting, along with close monitoring of humidity, pests and potential diseases. 

Aleksander needed to learn how to identify the plant from the shoot. His social media followers and those of Syngenta Group were invited to help by correctly guessing five different shoots. Within 24 hours, an impressive 23,000 votes were cast and most were correct, showing a high level of shoot-savviness among the social media community.

Over the season, Aleksander grew basil, carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cucumber, radish, and salad. He very much enjoyed connecting with nature and deepening his understanding of growing food. Food is for eating and sharing, and he was ready to plan the home-grown dinner he would make for friends. What would he cook?

His fragrant basil, which is a delicate herb, was thriving thanks to the Syngenta Group experts’ advice on correct watering, preventing disease, and protecting the plants from wind and cold. It seemed a natural choice to make some pesto.

It had to be tasty, and again Aleksander’s social followers helped him out with their suggestions:

  • use extra virgin olive oil,
  • add a good amount of garlic,
  • squeeze in lemon juice to preserve the basil, 
  • choose your cheese - either parmesan or pecorino, with a spoonful of ricotta, and
  • throw in some pine nuts or cashew nuts. 

The pesto turned out to be rich and creamy. Served with pasta for a starter, it was heartily enjoyed by Aleksander’s small group of guests. Gathered around the table at his home, they made a short video of their evening and would like to invite you to watch it and join their celebration. 

Aleksander’s My Garden journey is over but watch out for much more on his passion for nutritious and sustainable food.