The Ulmenhof, located in an idyllic side valley of the Vulkaneifel, is managed by the Frangen and Kneißl families, according to the guidelines of biologically-organic agriculture (Bioland).
The Ulmenhof was founded by Stefan and Ute Frangen; they turned their lifelong dream into reality after completing their studies in 1987. They started planning and with the progressive structural change began the death of farms in Germany. In addition, a fungal disease spread which led to the death of many elms. Stefan and Ute founded a farm contrary to the trend of the time and planted an elm tree , which still stands in the courtyard garden today. That's how their farm got its name.
In 1987, the concept of a direct marketing organic farm was still something completely new. While the idea and the Ulmenhof were initially ridiculed, Stefan and Ute worked daily on the development of their farm. Over the years, the majority of all colleagues stopped farming. However, the two managed to expand the Ulmenhof into a sustainable farm.
In 2004 I - Michael - had the opportunity to work on the farm and was able to join the company in 2010 after completing my studies in ecological agricultural sciences. With my children, hopefully, the next generation is already ready to continue and develop the Ulmenhof.
40 dairy cows and 100 dairy goats provide the milk for our farm cheese dairy. We also keep chickens in 4 mobile stables which expand our diversity in livestock farming and enrich our offer of products produced on the farm itself. In addition, there are rare cereal and potato varieties. The diversity of the crops grown here leads to a diverse habitat for insects and other endangered animal species. The multitude of fields, pastures and meadows leads to a broadly structured landscape. In many hedges and fields, many birds, but also small mammals such as rabbits find a home. Our areas are not irrigated.
During the winter months all our animals are kept in modern outdoor climate stables. This also allows a lot of exercise in the fresh air during this time. From April to November they are on the surrounding pastures every day. Organic farming promotes the production of a high-quality herb-rich and aromatic feed. This is reflected in the taste and quality of our cheeses. Since we mainly feed grass and hay to our animals, our milk is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other polyunsaturated fatty acids (CLA).
When breeding our goats and cows, we consciously pay attention to the quality of the milk and do not breed for the highest possible milk yield. Criteria such as the Kappa-Casein BB, which is responsible for the cheesemaking suitability of the milk, or the breeding on A2 milk, which is particularly digestible, is our focus.
Since founding our farm we have practised organic methods in farming. We practice organic farming out of conviction. Therefore, we not only meet the standards of our cultivation association Bioland, we go even further in many ways. So we keep less animals in our stables than possible. We do not keep high-performance animals, we rely on old breeds with quality instead of quantity. In feeding, we refrain from growing maize because it takes humus from the soil. We do not use any plant protection products in arable and fodder farming, not even those approved by Bioland such as copper. We largely refrain from selling animals to conventional fatteners. By keeping old and robust breeds, we can reduce the use of medication to a minimum. The principle of precaution applies for us. So all goat groups get a fresh pasture every day. This reduces the risk of worming and thus the use of worming medications.
We are a family business and get support from 4 to 5 employees. Our employees have been coming from our village or the immediate vicinity. Most of them have been working for us for many years. We offer jobs directly on site in a structurally weak area without our employees having to commute long distances to work. All employees have learned our cheese craft and can attend training courses, fairs, etc. In addition to our permanent employees and temporary staff, we also have trainees and interns from the surrounding schools and various universities. We also welcome interns from all over the world, working with us for a few months through various international programs. We pay attention to a circular economy on our farm. This means that we try to produce our own food as much as possible. Our areas are fertilised exclusively with the manure of our animals. We raise our calves and lambs and do not have to buy any animals.
In the cheese dairy we pay attention to resource conservation. So we try to avoid waste to a large extent. We only produce as much as we can sell or consume ourselves. We do not use disposable packaging and offer our goods only in reusable containers. If we need disposable packaging, for example for the eggs, or the shipping of cheese, we make sure that they can be recycled and are happy to take them back again. Currently we have plans for a Photovoltaics system to become more self-sufficient and sustainable in the energy sector.
Every day our cow's and goat's milk are freshly processed in our own cheese dairy. All cheeses are made without preservatives or other additives. You can discover the variety of our products in the organic farm shop Ulmenhof, directly on the farm in Sarmersbach. A cosy fireplace corner, as well as a sun terrace invite you to our farm.