Let’s talk about what organic really means. No, not “organic” in the sense of marketing or romantic leisure activities, but as an attitude towards life and in some cases the basis of life. There are plenty of people in the animal agricultural and farming sectors who don’t shy away from the immense effort and work required to meet the stringent organic standards not to mention the emotional ties to the animals. And why? Because they are convinced that they are doing the right thing.
In the Bregenzerwald, the Gmeiner family are exactly such people. Peter, who is a trained metalworker, musician and music teacher, and his wife Sonja took over the family farm in Langenegg in 2004. At the time, they only had a single calf in the barn. For the Gmeiners, however, their goals were clear: “If we do this, then we’re going to follow our own principles,” explains Sonja. In their case, this meant putting the well-being of the animals at the forefront. Mutual respect, plenty of open spaces, organic feed, naturopathy, near-natural farming and self-marketing were the ingredients. “We’ve operated an organic farm for more than ten years and we’ve even been certified three times. But even though we have nice certificates that we can hang on the wall, we still put plenty of conscientious thought into our farming methods.”
Pure idealism: “Even though our days are full of work, we still spend most of our time together. Apart from a few fixed tasks, we can plan our days freely. It’s a wonderful lifestyle.” “At first it was only meant to be a hobby,” remembers Sonja. And yet the farm continued to grow, providing the confidence that the change in career was the right decision. Nowadays the Gmeiner’s organic farm is home to over forty-five dairy cows, up to ten nurse cows, four sows with up to twenty piglets and up to fifty egg hens. Because self-marketing of the farm’s products only worked to a certain extent, the first farm shop in Langenegg, “La Wurscht”, was established in 2010. Sonja has to smile when she thinks back. “It was only a small shop, but at least it gave us the opportunity to sell all the homemade sausage and bacon specialities or other delicatessen items that we ourselves enjoy.”