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Organic as a way of life

Organic as a way of life

Organic as a way of life

In addition to the Huban Alpine dairy in Doren, the Bruggmühle in Egg and the reGREENa nursery in Andelsbuch, the Gmeiner family’s organic farm in Langenegg is one of Karin Kaufmann's key suppliers. This time around, Karin Kaufmann has even provided this editions’ cook-at-home recipe.

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.”

After a successful start, demand for their products was moderate. Things changed after Christian Sutter, who has a regional TV cooking show called “Suti kocht,” paid them a visit and helped make the farm shop popular. The opportunity to grow allowed “La Wurscht” to move to Hittisau. A few years later, they moved to their current location in Egg. “Bigger, brighter rooms, more purchasing power, even better contact to our regular customers,” says Sonja, explaining the shop’s progress.

At the beginning, fresh meat was not sold. But parallel to the ever expanding farm, the demand for organic meat also grew. Soon veal, beef and pork were sold over the counter. “Since all our products are marketed directly, calf transport has never been an issue for us. The entire cycle takes place in the village: All animals are born here, live on the organic farm and are slaughtered in Langenegg. Peter is always there himself.” In addition to the many customers who want to know where the meat on their plate comes from, cook Karin Kaufmann has been one of the partners from the very beginning. “As a cook, she takes the fine cuts, but also recycles everything from the animals. Karin’s knowledge and feedback are immensely important for our work. It gives us inspiration for new products and types of preparation, which we in turn pass on to our customers. This is such a wonderful partnership,” says Sonja, who is delighted to have close ties to “Frau Kaufmann’s” cooking school in Egg, and not just because of its proximity to “La Wurscht”. The relationship is a two-way street. “I liked the idea of the organic farm right from the start”, says Karin Kaufmann. “It’s all the more appealing to see passionate career changers like Sonja and Peter succeed.”

Quality and taste are decisive criteria. “It’s essential that we provide producers with comprehensive support so that they remain loyal partners as long as possible.” Practically all of Karin Kaufmann’s products are also available in the shop, from spice mixes such as “Scharfer Fünfer” (The Spicy Five) or “Scharfes Trio” (Spicy Trio) to baking mixes, vinegar and oil. “And if time permits, we meet at Sonja’s or at our home for a glass of wine to work on new recipes and mixes.”

Issue: Winter 2020-21 Bregenzerwald Travel Magazine
Author: Markus Curin

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