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XtraBlatt Issue 02-2019

ON FARM His career took

ON FARM His career took him to Berlin. But then Mario Ortlieb chose to move back to the countryside and took over the parental farm. The beautifully restored barn upper floor is available for social occasions. the kids gain on farm production greatly increases their appreciation of high-quality foods. OWN SLAUGHTER Part of the regional food range in the farm shop: the cooked and preserved regional speciality “Knieper” kale. a partnership, running the farm as a full-time business together. “It was not a decision made under any kind of pressure, but instead a carefully considered step”, he explains. His motivation? The answer comes spontaneously: a wish to exchange the hectic big city life for an existence on the farm where he’d spent his childhood and youth. Offering visitors the agricultural experience has developed into a heartfelt passion for this father of two. Above all, it’s the visits by school classes in the region that regularly motivate him. “For children, such a day spent on the farm is often an astonishing new experience.” Many of them, he adds, are astonished when they see that potatoes grow in a field instead of somehow simply appearing on discounter shelves. This farmer is also certain that this new knowledge The limited appreciation of food which appears to be spread over wide swathes of society is a phenomenon that causes a flush of anger in this farmer’s usually peaceful face. “We are the only country where food is sold at rock-bottom prices”, he fumes. Nowadays, price is the only factor in buying food as far as most consumers are concerned, he feels. The efforts of country people working 365 days a year producing healthy regional products are simply blended out To ensure freedom from dependence on the meat industry, this farm slaughters its pigs in its own facilities and markets the products exclusively in the farm shop. Mario Ortlieb built the EU-standard slaughter and processing facilities himself. “Building swallowed-up more than a little cash and also wore my nerves thin”, he laughs ruefully. Week after week, people from the local council turned up to tell him “all the things that weren’t allowed”. But he kept his cool and drove the project through. “All in all, we invested around 300,000 €”, he adds. A private slaughter specialist from the region takes over the actual killing, but the farming couple join in to help out with jointing and processing. In the meantime, Mario Ortlieb is considering adding slaughter facilities for cattle so that he can also keep the marketing of beef products within the farm business. 38

Direct marketing, enjoying the agricultural experience, lots of space for celebrating: all is offered by the Ortlieb family, and brings many guests to their farm each year. Currently around 40 cattle graze the farm meadows – too many, in view of this year’s forage yields. About half the cattle will therefore be sold-off before the end of the year. GOOD NETWORK Together with neighbouring farmers and beekeepers Mario Ortlieb has in recent years built up a small direct marketing network. “We supply each other with our respective products and in this way develop additional sales channels.” Alongside potatoes and grain products, his farm shop features meat and sausages from his own production and also regional specialities such as the Prignitz kale variety “Knieper”, various types of honey and liqueurs. Also part of the farm shop is an ‘adventure kitchen’ mainly used by school classes. Here, the kids can grind grain and make bread or bake cakes from the flour – and, naturally, enjoy consuming their own creations. The actual agriculture remains kingpin of the business, however, with 200 ha owned and a further 100 ha rented. Cereals, potatoes, sugar beet and oilseed rape make up the rotation. The livestock enterprises include cattle, pigs and hens. “We’re stopping renting land though”, says the farmer. Three poor harvests in a row thanks to drought mean the lease is not to be renewed. Around 300 ha are farmed with main crops forage and cereals. farm’: so that visitors can experience more intensively than ever the passion of producing healthy and sustainable food – and then directly marketing the produce. His conviction: “Continuing in this way will mean that future generations will also be happily working on this farm.”. « But even if the area shrinks, the amount of work involved in the business will certainly not be any less. Mario Ortlieb aims to put still more effort into developing the ‘adventure 39