Magdalena Knoll is still at primary school when her parents send her to the market with money to buy new jeans. When the young girl comes home, the family is quite astonished: instead of the jeans, Magdalena has bought three chickens. Almost 30 years later, 20 chickens are scratching around the Leilichhof. And Magdalena has often amazed her parents Maria and Walter ever since.
From an early age it was clear to Walter that he would become a farmer. At the beginning of the 90s Walter finds his way: he learns about organic farming and changes the farm.
"With organic I have rediscovered my inner joy for farming.” Walter Knoll
Walter engages himself intensively with organic farming. Organic farmers spray too, but with products that also occur naturally in nature. However, since the smell of certain pesticides such as lime sulphur is strong, Walter makes sure that he does not disturb the neighbours when treating the trees. Because the Leilichhof is located in the middle of Lana and Walter's attitude is "with each other, instead of against each other".
With this philosophy Walter fits in well with the ARGE - the working group for biodynamic farming. Walter likes the awareness that comes with continuous learning and the community. He enjoys the farm tours, during which a small group of biodynamic farmers study a farm. Here the host farmer first describes his starting point and his ideas and in return he receives the unvarnished opinion of all participants. In this way the individual farms develop further, and at the same time the farmers and the community itself.
"I do not force any of my daughters to take over the farm. But I would be really happy if someone would continue to run the farm.” Walter Knoll
In 2011 a hip operation made Walter slow down a bit. He hopes that this is not the end of the organic farm, but the beginning of a new chapter. But he does not want to push his two daughters into this. "While I'm standing in the shop, my father is working in the fresh air," Magdalena thought as a saleswoman. When she sees that her father needs help and realises that being a farmer could be something for her, she quits and starts working at the farm. A big step, because Magdalena loves customer contact in the shop on the one hand, and on the other hand, ten years ago young women rarely ran a farm in South Tyrol.
"If a woman wants to get into farming, I am happy to pass on my experience.“ Magdalena Knoll
Magdalena does her agricultural training at the Fürstenburg in Burgeis, attending the Demeter course for biodynamic farming in Frankfurt and various organic training courses in South Tyrol. During this time she attracts curious glances, as she is often the only woman in the group. Sociable as Magdalena is, she quickly settles into the farming community. "As a woman, I am slower in setting up columns, but I see things from a different angle. And different is not always worse, it makes the world a little more colourful," says Magdalena.
As a young mother, Magdalena appreciates that as a farmer she can spend time with her daughter and also work. Depending on the time of year, little Lena spends more time with Magdalena, her boyfriend or grandma and grandpa. During the harvest Magdalena and Walter are together in the meadows. And the time of the apple harvest at Leilichhof is long: It starts in August with the Gala, continues with Evelina®, Natyra®, Kanzi®, Braeburn and Fuji and ends with the Pink Lady® in November.
The handover of the farm is not always easy. Over the years Walter has built up his style and Magdalena brings in new ideas. Both views do not always fit together. For example, Magdalena cuts the trees in the winter months differently from her father. But together they find a way for Magdalena to have enough freedom and for Walter to feel needed and appreciated.
Besides agriculture both have their passions. Walter likes to bake bread. He built a wood-burning oven with a roof in the garden. Especially on rainy days he likes to heat it up and put in wholemeal loaves with bread clover, aniseed and caraway.
"Conversations, diversity and the cultivation of food inspire me. At the organic farm with farm holidays I can live it all, and spend time with my family.” Magdalena Knoll.
Herbs and food are Magdalena's favourite subjects. She likes to talk about this with her guests on her farm holidays. Wormwood, St. John's wort, marigold, mallows, cornflowers, camomile, yarrow, Greek mountain tea and echinacea bloom in the herb trough. Magdalena dries them in the garden house for herbal infusions and herbal salts. She also prepares soothing ointments and massage oils from the herbs.
Courgette, pumpkin, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, lettuce, carrots and much more is cultivated and nurtured by Magdalena in the garden. Gardening in the evening is her way of compensating, because she likes to spend her free time in the garden just like her father. For herbs and vegetables Magdalena likes to use the seeds of old organic varieties. This strengthens the diversity and promotes the cycle, because the old varieties are constantly multiplying.
Having the opportunity to grow food right on her doorstep, a space where her daughter can have fun and where the farm's small animals also find room to play makes Magdalena happy. "Life has meant well with us and I want to preserve nature so that Lena can enjoy it too".