The practice of summer pasture farming is ancient, almost as old as farming is here in this country. Archaeological finds uncovered in mountain valleys witness that summer farming took place already in the Iron Age, in the 7th century.Summer pasture farming has been – and is – an integrated element of Norwegian agriculture, that is, first and foremost with regard to production of milk from cows and goats. Summer farming was first regulated in the laws that were laid down in the 12th century. According to the Gulatingslova (old Norwegian law) if a farmer did not herd his cows and goats to the summer pasture, he could be reported for illegal grazing – "grass robbery". In olden times cows produced 2⁄3 of their annual production in the summer farming period, and in a wintry country (like Norway) it was vital to process this raw material into food that could be stored and used throughout the long winter.
Summer farming in Norway, as elsewhere in Europe, has diminished – but we are nonetheless a key element for this form of joint European operation. Around the year 1850 there were perhaps as many as 100,000 summer farms in active use, in 1939 around 27,000.
Norway's summer farm culture is highly diversified: from south to north, from west to east, single summer farm units or shared summer farms, located in the highlands and the lowlands, isolated or with neighbouring farms,, near or far, purely milking operations or including processing, some don't even have roads leading up to them. The uniqueness of the Norwegian summer farm is that we still find sustainable active summer farm environments in fjord and coastal districts as well; that is, not just in mountain districts.