Originally, the farm was a small, classic conventionally run farm in the southern Vogelsberg. In the 1960s there were many small farms in the rural region and they had a little bit of everything: a few cows, chickens, pigs, some farmland, mainly for self-sufficiency. The whole family was busy from morning to night, everyone grew up with agriculture on a small scale. I then studied agricultural science, and in 1983, with the birth of my first daughter, I decided to convert my parents' farm to organic farming: a challenge when face with barren soils in the Vogelsberg. Neighbours, friends and colleagues could not imagine farming arable land without fertilizers and pesticides. But it was clear to me that a life in nature was only possible in harmony with it. Intensive agriculture, environmental toxins in food, and exploitation of animals and ultimately also humans could only result in a dead end. So, I spent a lot of energy on converting the farm completely to organic farming, informing other farmers and inspiring them to follow this path. In 1986 I co-founded "Bioland", and for many years I was the first chairman in Hesse and Thuringia.
The Regenbogenhof is located outside the small village in the midst of greenery in the Vogelsberg. Rainbows can often be seen here after rain showers, hence the name of the farm. There are only small villages in the immediate vicinity, the nearest big cities are Frankfurt and Fulda, which are about 60 and 45 kilometers away from us. Here you are still very close to nature, and there are numerous hiking and cycling trails. The arable land here is still comparatively small structured, agricultural areas alternate with meadows and forests.
Most of the areas where we grow our products (cereals and vegetables) are about 3-5 km away. Now, many of the small farmers who were working in the 80s have given up farming, so there are only a few, but larger farms in the region. We bake bread and other baked goods two days a week. My wife, my son and I are supported by a woman from the village who is employed by us. We also regularly train agricultural and home economics apprentices.
Organic farming works really well. As a farmer, however, you first have to adapt to the new conditions. If you do without synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers, you also have to rethink the cultivation of the grain. For example, when choosing a cereal variety it is important to rely on plants that can better assert themselves against weeds due to their leaf position. Also, the preparation of the soil for sowing must be carried out more thoroughly than in conventional farming, because in organic farming it is almost impossible to intervene after the grain has been sown. However, we don't mind if there are a few other plants next to the crop we actually want. These so-called "weeds" increase biodiversity, look pretty and provide a home for numerous useful animals and serve as a source of food for them. The sequence of crops you grow in succession also needs to be considered. The more different types of plants you grow in succession over time, the fewer problems you will have with plant diseases and pests. A Colorado potato beetle, for example, feels comfortable in potatoes, but if there is clover on the surface the next year, it will have to retreat from the plot.
The rainfall in our region is sufficient to let our grain grow, so we are not dependent on irrigation. In dry years, of course, we sometimes harvest significantly less; from our point of view, fluctuations in yield are simply part of agriculture.
Of course, we always try to bake only as much bread as we can actually sell in the next few days. However, it also happens from time to time that bread is left over. Bread that could not be sold is usually given to an organic farm as animal feed. In this way, the leftovers are still used sensibly.