Kattendorfer Hof

9 Jul

This morning my computer beeped at me from the other room, letting me know a friend was chatting with me on Facebook.  Happily it was my new friend in Altona inviting me to meet him and his daughter at the local market.  We made arrangements to meet, I washed off my morning face and headed on my bicycle to meet him. He is a new member to a co-op here in Hamburg. While he picked out his fresh veggies and dairy for the week, I got a chance to chat a little bit with the owner of the farm, Kattendorfer Hof.

First a little German lesson… Kattendorfer, that is the name of the farm, and hof according to google translate means court.  Okay, next I was excited because I got to learn a little bit about his farm.  They are an organic farm just North of Hamburg and they practice a method of farming that in Germany is called demeter, known in the United States as biodynamics.  As he described, demeter pays attention to the farm as a whole and how all things are interconnected which gives the food and the farm a sense of quality and balance.  So they make and grow everything!  They grow their vegetables organically, the raise their own animals and sell milk, cheese and meat products and they even grow their own grain which  they sell to a local baker who bakes the bread!  Fabulous.  Biodynamics is more complicated than this, but when following this method, my new farmer friend says, the food just tastes better.  He says his customers say there is just something about his food that is different from the others.

We talked a little bit about the co-op and how the farm sells its food. In the States it’s called CSA, community supported agriculture.  In German it is Wirthschaftsgemeinschaft…. ugh… for now I will stick with CSA… at any rate, the way this works is the farm, in this case Kattendorfer Hof, creates a budget for the year of their expenses including costs and salaries for workers… essentially how much they will need to run the farm.  At the beginning of the year, they divide that budget up monthly and pass that cost on to their co-op members as shares.  So the co-op is paying not for the food, but for the cost, the expense up front of running the farm.  Then every week the farm brings fresh food to drop off points for the co-op members to pick up.  For the purchase of a share, co-op members have a general agreement of how much food they get a week.  Kattendorfer Hof is pretty relaxed about this and doesn’t weigh the food. The members come and choose from the abundance of what is there and take what they need while still leaving plenty for the other members.  It’s a win/win for everyone!… The farm and the farmer is well supported and the customers get wonderful fresh food every week at an affordable price.  At Kattendorfer Hof, co-op members pay 165€ a month and they get fresh meat, cheese, milk, yogurt and vegetables.  And plenty of vegetables!  Right now they are growing carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, sugar beets, lettuce, potatoes, green onions, leeks, broccoli!… The farm is very happy with this arrangement and are getting 60% of their business through CSA… the other 40 at local markets.  But they are expanding and would like to be 100% Community Supported Agriculture!

I thought this was such a delight, I wanted to share it.  Almost like a small miracle.  One of the few things in this world that actually makes sense!  Mmmm.. yummy fresh food!