At the Schäfer family farm, generations work hand in hand for a secure future.
If you travel from Höchst in Odenwald to the district of Dusenbach and look right, you’ll see almost stereotypical agricultural scenery. Cows graze beneath beautiful fruit trees, bask in the midday sun and enjoy the early summer’s day. Can the future of dairy farming also look like this? When visiting the Wolf family’s farm, the answer is very clear: sustainable farming is possible.
Klara Wolf, whose cows graze on the field from spring until well into the autumn, is quite certain: modern agriculture combines animal welfare and consumer interests with the economic interests of farmers. For the wellbeing of all involved. “The animals are well and the consumer receives high-quality products from the region.”
Around the clock, village inhabitants as well as customers from the local area can tap fresh milk from the farm – just a few metres from the milking parlour. Marketing doesn’t get any more local. Klara Wolf also asked herself the question: what do consumers expect from a modern farm apart from milk? Her response: a vending machine for a range of products has been set up next to the milk dispenser.
“Consumers want quality and regionality,” Klara Wolf is sure. “They want to know where the products come from and how they were made. The milk dispenser here is an important element for establishing contact between ourselves as the producer and the customer as the consumer. And if one or two people take a look at our fields and see that our cows are having a good life, then that’s an intended positive side effect.”
In recent decades, farmers have lost an enormous amount of esteem. Milk and butter often need to serve as a bargain offer for customers. At the same time, fewer and fewer city residents have an idea about life and work on a farm and how animals are treated. “The public discussion has all too frequently contributed to a sense of disconcertion in recent decades. Unfortunately, often with a completely inaccurate idea of farming,” Klara Wolf argues.
Politics and society have a responsibility for the future of agriculture. “We need to bring children and their parents to the farm and show them how we work and why we do things the way we do.”
As a cooperative, Hochwald is actively helping to shape the future. For instance, a number of years ago, the youth council was set up with around 40 young farmers under 35 years of age, who deal specifically with future questions. Since the start of 2018, Klara Wolf has been speaker of the committee, which is intended to actively support the work of the cooperative. The youth council is currently promoting the topic of communication, among others. Klara Wolf doesn’t see herself as a small cog in food production with little power to influence anything, but as a player in the sector who is providing a contribution. It’s important to do what you do with passion and conviction, and not simply stamp in and out as the time clock dictates. That’s when the combination of economics, ecology and consumer interests really comes into play. Both in the dairy sector and in other industries.