For Bernhard, the new millennium meant more than just a new year: he moved his farm onto organic production methods. Protecting nature and leaving a legacy of good – this continues to motivate him now just as much as it did at the start of his career. In addition is Bernhard’s passion for facing the new farming challenges that arrive with each year.
The next milestone came in 2002. Buoyed up by the conviction that there is strength in numbers, several organic farmers joined together to form the Biosüdtirol cooperative. The cooperative puts the investment behind every professionally farmed, harvested, stored and sold organic apple – into action. In the past, the present, and the future.
The fundamental principle is as simple as it is fair: every member has exactly one vote, no matter how big or small their farm. Every three years the Biosüdtirol farmers democratically elect their chairperson and governing board. Bernhard has had the confidence of the cooperative’s membership ever since its foundation, first as a member of the governing board and, since 2011, as its chairperson.
“Always treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.”
Relaxed, fair and well-informed. That has always summed up Bernhard’s approach. The motto he lives every day, and which by now everyone knows and appreciates, is: “Always treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.”
His family is a source of strength, his farm an inspiration: Bernhard lives with his wife Sieglinde and their two grown-up daughters on Callhof in Lana. Katharina and her husband Stefan have extended the family’s house, Magdalena has just come back from university and is working at a local marketing agency. His apple meadows are also very close to his organic farming life: one is right next to the farm, the others just a short drive away.
Gala, Pink Lady®, Story® Inored, Topaz, Braeburn and Jazz: Tantalising names abound in his organic apple meadows. In future, more scab-resistant varieties will find their way into the Callhof meadows. Trees of the Ipador variety and another variety have been pre-ordered for the next few years. Bernhard makes sure that each apple tree gets a perfect spot in the sun. The altitude of the meadow, the quality of the soil and the micro-climate are all decisive factors.
If it turns out that a variety and its location are not suited to each other, he doesn’t shy away from the risk of a move. At the start of the quiet phase in autumn, Bernhard carefully digs up the trees, transports them to the new meadow and replants them. So, during autumn 2019 the Pink Lady® trees “emigrated” to their new homestead meadow. Callhof’s location means that it is warmer earlier in the day and less prone to dew – plus a light breeze refreshes the evening hours. These conditions cause fewer problems with “sooty mould” (a type of fungal infestation that turns the apples black). In the meadow Bernhard replaces the Pink Lady® trees with a variety that ripens earlier and is less susceptible to the damaging sooty mould.
The secret behind the quality of the apples at Callhof is not just the farm’s location. For Bernhard, the tireless commitment and work of the whole family counts for far more than any other factor. His daughter Katharina works with apples every day as the quality controller for the South Tyrolean Fruit Growers’ Cooperative (Verbandes der Südtiroler Obstgenossenschaften, VOG). His son-in-law Stefan manages the farm together with Bernhard. This allows Bernhard to invest a lot of time in the Biosüdtirol cooperative and it allows Sieglinde to look after the holidaymakers that come to the farmstead.
Their guests gain insights into organic farming and a delight for their taste buds, with breakfasts bursting with freshly harvested and home-made treats. Fresh herbs, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit. Sieglinde uses these ingredients to prepare all the tasty delicacies with her own hands. Her apple-nut-bread is already legendary, all resistance to its deliciousness is futile. And nobody can fail to love the warm, welcoming, natural informality that runs in the very genes of the Lösch family.