The Kasserollers have been living on and running their farmstead in Frangart since 1834. In 1907 Karl’s grandfather moved the farmstead a few metres further down the hillside, where he constructed Strickerhof, which still stands there today. A more beautiful spot would be hard to find. From here you can see the Schlern, the Rittnerhorn and the Texel group, and the sun bathes the farm in light and warmth. All year round, six to fifteen hours a day, depending on the season - in the summer from six o’clock in the morning until half past nine at night. It’s probably what paradise is like.
Grapevines, apple, cherry and apricot trees thrive particularly well in this sunny location. Karl’s grandfather used to sell his own wine, just like Karl continues to do today. In addition to Vernatsch and Lagrein, he grows six other grape varieties, including those known to be fungus resistant or “pilzwiderstandsfähig” – PIWI for short. The Kasseroller family focuses on Gala, Topaz and Natyra when it comes to apples. And they’re known as trailblazers far beyond the boundaries of their own orchards, in 1992 they were one of the first farming families in Etschtal to use nets to protect their apple orchard from hail and the scorching sun. Their farming sensitivity and feel for beauty is clear, they avoid using nets in the orchard next to the church so the beautiful village scenery is preserved.
Even 40 years ago, Karl was already thinking about switching to organic agriculture. In 1998 the time was finally ripe and the entire farm has been run organically ever since. In contrast to today, organic fruit production consultancy was still in its infancy. And so many organic pioneers were labelled nuts or dreamers. Karl refused to be stopped by anything or anyone - and prefers, even now, to think about the positive aspects: “The switch was easier than I expected. At the end of the 1990s, there was incredible cooperation between the first organic farmers and those making the switch.” The experienced farmers gladly shared their expertise with the newcomers. New acquaintanceships were made during shared visits to farms, experiences exchanged, ideas developed. And organic agriculture continued to develop in the community. Harvests grew alongside a passion for organic.
“At the end of the 1990s, there was incredible cooperation between the first organic farmers.”
Karl wants to bring progress into village life as well as into his farm. He wants to motivate people, to drive things forward. He is a founding member of the Frangart Music Society, a member of the local marksman’s club for over 50 years, and an avid folk dancer. And he’s just as active in the Folk Music Society as he is in his farmers’ association. He has been awarded the Tyrolean Medal of Merit. It is an honour awarded to north and south Tyroleans for special services to society.
Think long-term and act sustainably. This is Karl’s motto in all life situations, whether in his involvement with various clubs and societies or on the farm. It’s no accident that the same bee-keeper has been bringing his bee colonies from Gadertal to the fruit orchards of Strickerhof for over 30 years. The bees work hard on the farm when the apple trees are in blossom, taking on the job of pollination. The Kasseroller family likes to rely on help from animals, their chickens give them eggs, but they also keep caterpillars off the vines and cherry fruit flies from the cherries. Organic is more than just a nice slogan to Karl, “It is the cycle of life.”
The Kasserollers’ cyclical thinking goes even further than this, though. Anything old is preserved and given new life. Furnishings are made in cherry wood from the farm’s own woodland, the farm shop’s furniture comes from wood taken from their own Kalterer apple trees, while the floor is made from 100-year-old wine barrel staves. Here and there, red wine stains shimmer out of the ancient wood. It’s a heart-warming sight. And even the smallest room is turned into something special, the farm shop’s toilets are located inside an old winemaking cask.
The work on the farm is varied and diverse. Particularly in September when the two resistant apple varieties Topaz and Natyra are harvested and the grape harvest also has to be started. Two hours of gathering grapes in the morning followed by apple picking. “It’s all a question of dividing your time,” say Karl and his wife, Josefine, from years of experience. It’s a good thing that the next generation is already in the starting blocks, ready to move into the orchards and the wine cellar. Their youngest son is currently completing his training in viticulture and oenology at Geisenheim University and will then carry on the family tradition at Strickerhof. The idea that the multi-talented Karl will then remove his fingers from all of the farm’s pies is, however, debatable.