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A vegetable garden of her own

A vegetable garden of her own

A vegetable garden of her own

Her childhood dream was to run her own nursery. Regina Metzler-Mattes has been operating reGREENa in Andelsbuch with courage, tenacity and a sharp mind since 2012. The facility features a floristry department, nursery, tree nursery and vegetable field. She prides herself on holding her own in an industry that is still dominated by men.

“Plants are my life,” says Regina Metzler-Mattes, owner and manager of the reGREENa nursery in Andelsbuch. We sit together beneath a large sun umbrella somewhere between the tree nursery and the vegetable field. Everywhere around us, the late summer hay is being gathered on the freshly mown August meadows.

“My mum used to grow all our own vegetables and my grandma had a big field where I was always delighted to help out. Even as a kid, being outdoors was my favourite thing.” So at the young age of just 23, the master gardener started her own business in 2012. It was the fulfillment of a childhood dream. “In the beginning, I selected my range of plants based on my intuition, and then tried to respond to all the customers’ wishes. Relying on my gut cost me a lot of money,” she recalls with a laugh.

Word of the new nursery spread quickly and soon reGREENa’s customer base grew and grew. In 2022, the company and its 13-member team moved to its new location near the village centre of Andelsbuch. The renovated 113-year-old building is now also home to a floristry department with a nursery, tree nursery and vegetable field located behind it. Owning and operation her own nursery hasn’t always been easy. Luckily the now 32-year-old from Andelsbuch grew up with four brothers. “My childhood was the very best way to prepare me for holding my own in an industry that is still dominated by men.” As the second youngest, she learned to assert herself from an early age. Those who have dreams need tenacity and perseverance: “When someone says, ‘It can’t be done,’ then I say, ‘Nothing is impossible!’”

The deciding factor early on was getting the opportunity to spend a day with a florist during school. It was there that twelve-year-old Regina heard about the horticultural school in Langenlois for the first time. Two years later, she headed off to boarding school in faraway Lower Austria: “It’s a good thing I didn’t know beforehand how homesick I would be at first.” In addition to being both risk-taking and assertive, Regina is also tough and sensible. She would survive the first, hard months and after four years she received her apprenticeship diploma and secondary school leaving certificate. Later, she also took her master examination.

Winter-hardy plants (“perennials, shrubs, fruit trees, berries and herbs: everything that survives the winter”) are Regina’s speciality. They also make up the bulk of the reGREENa range. “But my heart,” she says with a loving glance at the large field, “beats for vegetables.” This wish coming true is thanks in part to Regina’s husband Philipp Mattes. A mechanical engineer by training who is also an enthusiastic and inquisitive gardener, he has tended to the 4,500-square-metre GREENzeug field (that’s how the pair refer to reGREENa’s vegetable branch) full-time since 2018.

“Growing vegetables used to be quite commonplace in the Bregenzerwald region. I think it’s hugely important to keep such traditions alive. Our vegetables are regional, organic, diverse and allowed to be ‘imperfect.’ GREENzeug vegetables are quite popular and nearly always sold out: “We sell directly from the farm and to hotels and restaurants. Any surpluses we might have, such as the thirty kilograms of tomatoes that are on the stove right now, we preserve ourselves.” In 2021, the Metzler-Mattes family also grew a new member of the family: Their son Primus, who is now one and a half years old. Enterprisingly, he trudges through the garden and the store area during my visit. “I couldn’t have done any of this without my phenomenal team, who I trust one hundred percent. We are like a big family, everyone has an important role to play. Freedom and independence, a sense of responsibility and open communication are the keystones! I’m convinced.”

Author: Babette Karner
Issue: Bregenzerwald Travel Magazine – Summer 2023