Hof Klostersee’s arable land lies in the former Baltic Sea lagoon Klostersee, where past measures of drainage have created a wide variety of soils – as well as extremely demanding terrain for farming purposes. Therefore, Hofgemeinschaft Klostersee’s farm management focuses on sustainable soil management, through a well-managed and diverse crop rotation system that ensures optimal soil conditions and nutrient uptake.
“Due to the soil conditions of our location, sustainable management of available nutrients requires a high level of sensibility,” says Knut Ellenberg, one of the farmers in the community. “The extreme soils and the reactions by the crops are very efficient teachers – since any management error becomes very evident.”
Five farm manager families and their children live and work on Hof Klostersee. Together, they operate a diverse range of activities – including crop and dairy production, running a bakery and holiday rentals. The farm buildings and lands are owned by a non-profit association, with the aim of supporting both bio-dynamic agriculture and rural culture and social engagement.
Hof Klostersee is one of the organic demonstration farms designated by the German Federal Government, and as such offers a range of different guided farm walks, often targeting at a more technical audience.
“Best practice must not only be praised, but also described in concrete detail,” says Knut. “Education in natural sciences is one way to forge a new identity of farmers as key public advocates for the environment.”
In 2015, the families running Hof Klostersee received the national Baltic Sea Farmer Award in recognition of their efforts to reduce nutrient runoff on their farm.
Location: Grönwohldshorst in northern Germany
Type of farm: Biodynamic organic crop and livestock farm (160 ha)
Main production: Crop (including spelt, rye, wheat, rape, clover) and dairy products
Key practices: Biodynamic management, low livestock density, all animal feed produced at farm, use of farm waste as fertilizer, crop rotation, catch crops, grasslands and zoning system
National jury motivation: "The partnership of five farming families has succeeded with diverse activities – including crop and dairy production, running a bakery and holiday rentals – while still focusing on sustainable natural resource utilization. The jury was particularly impressed with the diversity of this farm community, the cooperation between generations, and the focused work based on the principles of sustainable soil management. The farm’s operational model, i.e. the non-profit association, is an interesting strategy which demonstrates a new pathway towards a healthy development in the Baltic Sea region."