Our family business can be found in Voltlage, a village where hares and hedgehogs sleep well.
Together with my father, I have been managing our asparagus and blueberry fields since 2012. My grandfather built up the business and planted cauliflower and kohlrabi. About 40 years ago, my father started looking at asparagus and blueberries and slowly started rolling them out. So I grew up right next to berries and asparagus. In 2018, I convinced my father to go organic. In the meantime, our triplets are shaking up the business and are so pleased they can nibble on blueberries direct from the bush in summer! In these moments, I realise how important and natural organic crop production is: freshly picked from the shrub into a toddler's mouth - something you can do with no hesitation on an organic farm. But there's not only the three of them on the farm, my wife Steffi and my aunt are also involved. Our Bioland family business is in the district of Osnabrück in Lower Saxony, just a few kilometres from the state border with North Rhine-Westphalia. Here, there are forests to explore, meadows to play football and lots of animals to watch.
And what happens in the blueberry fields?
Most of our blueberry bushes grow on nearby moorland, which we were fortunate enough to lease. Here, they find peat, their favourite soil, and thrive particularly well.
They are therefore already quite well supplied nutritionally, but they are still thirsty in warm weather. We water our blueberries, if necessary, using drip irrigation. The water comes from our well and the amount of water drawn is monitored by the local authority. The plants get their water as needed via hoses that lie directly on the plant on the ground. Therefore, the fruit itself does not come into contact with the water. This irrigation method is therefore the gentlest, both for the plant and for the environment, since the amount of water required is very small. We must remove weeds by hand because, as an organic farm, we don't spray them.
Organic farming preserves local biodiversity and avoids the introduction of synthetic toxins into the environment. We want as many wild animals as possible to feel comfortable with us so we have set up insect hotels, installed perches for birds and planted flower strips. Some bee colonies live on the edge of our blueberry crop. These help us to pollinate our fruit and the bees enjoy a wonderful, natural habitat.
Renewable energies are an important issue if you want to prepare for the future: We have a photovoltaic system on our production hall, so that we can cover at least part of our electricity needs ourselves. We produce almost no waste, as only ripe fruit and vegetables are harvested and are therefore hardly ever sorted. The little we reject is composted.
Direct marketing is very important to us, which is why we employ 12 permanent employees throughout the year, plus six to seven other employees in the high season, who look after our farm shop and market stalls in the area. Asparagus and blueberries are very labour-intensive crops. You won't get very far with just a tractor, like in a cereal field. Asparagus and blueberries require a lot of manual work. That is why we are glad that we can count on the help of our seasonal workers. Many of them return every year and, in some cases, several generations have been working with us. They live with us on the farm, and a nearby pub provides us with a warm meal every lunchtime. After all, most of our workers leave their homes in Poland or Romania for several weeks, which is why we attach great importance to making everyone feel comfortable. Bicycles are available for short country rides or visits to the local village. At least once in the season we all barbecue together and when it is particularly hot, there's always ice cream! 😊