Farming of the future: harvest it yourself

14 Aug 2020

Scandals in the meat industry, the use of glyphosate and nitrate, climate change and changes in consumption have consequences. The agricultural sector is forced to rethink the situation.

The German Minister for Agriculture, Julia Klöckner, has big plans: “More environmental protection, more sustainability, more animal welfare.” The minister wants to lay the basis for more respectful strategies with the climate and the environment in agriculture and livestock.

But the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a matter for the European Union. With 58 billion euros in annual subsidies – around 40 percent of the total EU budget – most of those funds go to large agricultural industries: around 20 percent of agricultural companies receive 80 percent of EU subsidies.

That could change. Germany holds the presidency of the EU for six months. And in a year there will be elections in Germany, where the Green Party could become part of a new government. Obviously, a green policy could already be started, as demanded by Martin Häusling, agricultural policy spokesman for the Green Party in the European Parliament: “We must practice agriculture that does not destroy our resources of soil, water and biodiversity. We must do it in a In a way that is respectful with the climate. This means: fewer animals, forgo mineral fertilizers and climate-damaging pesticides, fewer monocultures. ”

Organic farming should be increased across the EU, from the current 5% to 25% by 2030. “From farm to fork” (Farm-to-fork) is the name of the future European strategy for more sustainable nutrition.

German farmer Leonhard Palm has long been angry about EU regulations: “The subsidy policy is unfair. Organic farming, which focuses on product quality and environmental protection, cannot compete with this.”

Farms in danger

And neither do small farms. A study by the DZ bank predicts a massive death of farms: of the 267,000 that are currently in Germany, only 100,000 could survive until 2040.

The agricultural expert of the Green Party, Martin Häusling, says in an interview with DW: “We must offer the young generation of farmers good opportunities for local and regional sales of organically produced products that also fetch good prices.”

To achieve this, it would be necessary to decentralize above all the processing structures. This means: less resource-consuming transports of milk, animals, fruits and vegetables and instead short supply chains and regional trade.

Farmer Palm has a multi-pronged approach: He has larger customers, runs a farm store, and his daughter Andrea serves customers at weekly organic markets. And through the web platform “My harvest” (Meine Ernte), Palm offers areas of its land for individual agriculture, for own consumption.

New quality of life through gardening

One of his clients is Emanuel Walter. Through “My Harvest” he rented 45 square meters of land to the organic farmer Palm: “At first I only saw tiny plants, but they aroused a happy expectation. Meanwhile, Walter is proud that he grows tomatoes himself, and that he has “daring” to grow aubergines, fennel and chard. “All without chemical additives.”

Rebecca Luyken dreamed of a vegetable garden for a long time. “A friend told me about My harvest. Since the coronavirus crisis, I work from home,” she describes her situation. At first he thought he knew absolutely nothing about agriculture. Now, the social media manager is completely excited: “When I get home I have black nails, disheveled hair, and dirty pants. I’m tired, but gardening has become the perfect antidote to work.”

Last but not least: The 70 amateur gardeners in the organic farmer’s field Palm formed a great community, according to Rebecca Luyken. “Right now I don’t feel the need to travel at all, because the garden fills me up and I really like my plants.”