A regenerative CSA producing a wide variety of vegetables
Jonas (gardener), Julia & Hans-Albrecht
the cultivation of different vegetables
To create food security and food sovereignty, this beautiful regenerative market garden was founded in the autumn of 2019. The farm is a ‘SoLaWi’, the German word for community-supported agriculture (CSA). A variety of fresh vegetables are produced there year-round. The produce is currently shared among 80 households in Hitzacker, a picturesque town right next to the river Elbe.
- strong community ties
- white clover undersowing
- drip irrigation system
- co-working space
How everything started
Julia and Hans-Albrecht, the founders of this CSA project, have always been interested in joining a community-supported garden. Unfortunately, all of them were located a few kilometers away from Hitzacker.
‘’It didn’t make sense for us to drive for 20 kilometers to pick up sustainably grown vegetables. That’s why we decided to take matters in our own hands and start a CSA here in Hitzacker.’’
Unlike many starting farmers, they easily found land. The land belongs to a former farmer on the other side of the road. It had fulfilled the purpose of a tree nursery before, but it was considered to be too small for agriculture. The piece of land, which has the size of almost one hectare, exactly suited their needs. They will be working this land for the coming 10 years.
Their next steps were to found an association for the CSA with some villagers and to look for a gardener. The lucky one turned out to be Jonas, who was at that time travelling after an education of four years in biodynamic agriculture. He unexpectedly bumped into the offer. It resonated with him immediately, so he decided to take the chance.
‘’Two years ago, I already fell in love with Hitzacker, because it’s a lovely rural city.’’
Coincidence or not?
Let’s look into other activities happening on the farm…
Education & development
They are cooperating with local farmers and regional CSA’s.
Next to community-building and the enjoyment of essential & healthy food, they see their work as a contribution to education and sustainable urban development.
Their members pick-up their vegetable boxes once a week. Occasionally, they pick some veggies themselves. Some members also come regularly to help out with gardening.
There’s no lack of solidarity, enthusiasm and positive resonance. In the area, everyone knows them and each member takes responsibility. Their project is a great chance to build a big community network.
Hitzacker is located between Hamburg and Berlin. So they thought this would be the perfect location to install a co-working space!
Another cool initiative
They are visibly nursing young plants in front of a window in the town of Hitzacker. This attracts the attention of many people. They stop, look inside, and become conscious of crop growth.
How do they contribute to a better climate?
The cultivation is done in the open field, on 220 beds, with a single-axle tractor and tiller.
In the greenhouse, they cultivate no-dig and solely by hand. A broadfork is used for deep loosening.
For both sites of cultivation, neither pesticides nor fertilizers are used.
Undersowing and mulching
In the greenhouse, Jonas experimented for the first time with a white clover undersowing in tomato plants.
He had a great experience with it. He was very satisfied with both yield and plant health.
On the outdoor plots, he planted the paths as well with clover grass and different mulch materials.
On a local and global scale, the topic of water management is pressing.
Jonas wishes to drastically reduce their water consumption during the production of vegetables.
His plan is to install drip irrigation for big parts of the field. He will combine that with mulching.
What would you like to tell farmers that wish to make the transition to regenerative agriculture?
‘’I would recommend them to just start. We started from scratch. The land here was bare: just a brown patch of earth. And we could not really imagine that it would work.’’
Once they started, they reached out to other farmers in the surrounding area. The ones that are not practicing organic agriculture were integrated as well. Their aim was to establish good relationships with everybody.
‘’We did not want them to feel like we are teaching them and preaching about the worth of our own methods. They are also part of the agricultural community, even though they have a different approach. So this is definitely another recommendation for people that are transitioning or starting: build up fruitful relationships and cooperate.’’
Do you want more after reading this story?
Pay a visit to our Academy to access more information on the transition to regenerative agriculture. Looking forward to seeing you there!