Vegetables can hardly grow in a more idyllic way. Birds chirp, the view sweeps far over fields and meadows, a little further, hidden behind tall trees, flow the Amper and Mühlbach. In between, many beds with many, many types of vegetables. There are currently 3,200 square meters of cultivation area, says Henriette von Haniel. The fact that a lot grows in one spot, and that with maximum biodiversity, is part of the concept in the Ampergarten right next to Haimhauser Castle.
“It just bothered me so much that there are so few regional organic vegetables here,” says Henriette von Haniel while leisurely walking through the rows of beds. Although her family farms, she also works on the farm, but only classic crops are grown there, grain, sugar beets, soybeans. The 56-year-old didn’t want to start growing her own vegetables with direct marketing, “and then luckily I came across the Solawi”. Solawi stands for Solidarity Agriculture and describes a principle according to which the consumer does not finance the individual food, but the entire agricultural operation. You pay a certain monthly fee for a year and receive your share of the harvest every week. For the producer, this means secure income that can be invested in fair wages and in the costs of the upcoming season, such as buying seeds.
Every Friday, customers pick up their share of the harvest
In the Ampergarten, customers pick up their vegetables every Friday from 4 to 6.30 p.m., there is the single box for 45 euros a month with five to six different types of vegetables and the family box for 65 euros a month with eight to nine types and there are those Single crate plus, which costs as much as the small crate, but contains as much as the large crate. It is for customers who help out in the fields. You can find out what to do and when help is needed in the Ampergarten Whatsapp group, and there is even an Instagram account for the picture-oriented news.
In 2019, Henriette von Haniel looked for a consultant to support her idea with the implementation. You started with 30 members, who came together “because I think I talked to practically everyone I knew about it for a year,” as she says with a smile. The Ampergarten now has 70 members and two employees. There have even been animal helpers recently because of the many snails: three Indian runner ducks are supposed to take care of the matter, the rest is taken care of by a small flock of chickens in the mobile enclosure, which also like to pick up snail eggs.
Gardener Jasmin Gutöhrlein has a lot to do this afternoon. She studied gardening and landscaping, but with a focus on growing vegetables. That’s why she knows all the tricks, knows which vegetables have to be planted after or next to which others, so that the plants support each other in their needs. Not only standard vegetables and salads are grown, but also more exotic ones: blue kohlrabi, Asian pak choi and tatsoi, sugar melons, physalis or mangetout. There is even a tea bed with scorpion fish, mint and tulsi, Indian basil, in one corner. “Lots of different things and what you can’t get in the supermarket,” says Jasmin Gutöhrlein, describing the range. She also follows the principle of “market gardening”, which means intensive cultivation on a small area, whereby the soil is never bare. “Where there are no vegetables growing, green manure grows, which is good for the microclimate and soil organisms,” she explains.
As far as the use of machines is concerned, life is very small in the Ampergarten, there is only a hand tractor with a tiller and harrow. “At some point,” says the gardener, “you won’t need that anymore and then you won’t need diesel anymore.” Until then, however, the ground still has to develop a little. There is now a foil tunnel as a greenhouse for tomatoes, cucumbers and other weather-sensitive vegetables, which is irrigated with a system that is fed from groundwater.
Special meadows are used to attract insects, including many that pests like to eat
Between the flower beds, there are strips of meadow with flowers and lots of butterflies, and the buzzing of bumblebees and bees cannot be ignored. It is a Rieger-Hofmann meadow with plants that are particularly insect-friendly, explains Henriette von Haniel. You can already see the desired effect: “We have a lot of hoverflies, which is particularly important this year when there are so many aphids.” Gardener Jasmin Gutöhrlein smiles and adds: “You have to work with nature, not against nature.” The Ampergarten is supposed to be too big, but there could still be a few more members.
Interested parties can find more information at www.ampergarten.info.
#Haimhausen #Solidarity #Agriculture #Ampergarten