Why do we do what we do?
A question for which everyone has their own answer. After high school, Evi volunteers at the local rescue service and takes up a permanent position there. A short time later, her life will change significantly.
Martin Frasnelli's grandfather, father, and mother worked in agriculture. For his mother it was clear early on that Martin would be active in the same field. He completed the agricultural secondary school and then went to the South Tyrolean fruit processor VOG Products.
“No matter what kind of business you hand over, give the young ones freedom and they will have fun.” Martin Frasnelli.
Martin senses that he wants to do something different. He quits VOG Products and starts to work in the family's apple orchards and the orchards of other landowners. Evi is 19 when her father, who was also a farmer, dies. However, selling the orchards is not a question. Evi, her two sisters and her mother all agree. Evi quits her job and takes over the farm, together with her sister Stephanie. The division of work is clear: the mother takes care of bureaucratic matters, the two daughters drive the tractor. Later on, they split the farm and run it with their partners.
This is how Evi and Martin became farmers. At training courses and meetings, the two of them stand out. Mostly it’s experienced men and their sons that take part. Women are a rarity, a young couple a real exception. But open warm-hearted and determined as they are, Evi and Martin quickly settle into the farming community.
They painfully experience a lack of handouts for everything. On a balmy evening, hordes of May bugs fly onto the meadows of their farm Gutmannhof. The bugs lay their eggs in the sandy soil. Bug larvae eat the roots of the apple trees. Bark beetles penetrate the weakened trees and sap what life is left. Even experienced professional colleagues and the advisory organisations don’t know what to do.
What happens if we follow our convictions?
Renting to somebody else, selling or replanting the meadows are all possibilities. Together they decide to clear 7,000 apple trees, replant them and protect the meadow with a hail net. The net will be closed on all sides to prevent May bugs from entering the meadows. The plan works. At most the first two trees behind the net are weakened, the others are in full sap.
When Evi and Martin are building their farmhouse, they look at their soil while digging. Even in deeper layers there is almost only sand, sand and more sand. They search intensively for living beings like earthworms, but only find a few. They realise that although they have tended the trees in recent years, they have neglected the soil. They see and feel that their meadows are missing something. For the first time they ask themselves: "Would it be different if we were to farm organically from now on?
“We decided to change, because we didn't want to regret having never dared to at the age of 60.” Martin Frasnelli
Martin’s neighbour is an organic farmer, and in his orchards Martin sees organic apple farming works. The idea of converting the farm to organic takes root in the minds of Evi and Martin. Taking a few years before it actually happens. But when their daughter Magdalena is born, the time has come. Without any ifs or buts they convert the whole farm to organic. Because now with their little one, they want to set an example, and preserve nature even more.
“Organic can mean alternative and is sometimes looked at critically. However, our aim is not being alternative, but acting as it feels good for us.” Evi Höller
Evi and Martin do not shout out into the world that they are switching to organic. Nevertheless, the news is spreading, and there’s even resistance from friends and the village community. This does not stop them. As Martin also manages the meadows of other landowners, he discusses with them the decision to switch to organic. It is clear to him that from now on he will only farm organically. All the landowners trust Martin and join him: their meadows will also be organic.
Evi’s and Martin's meadows are beautifully situated, but not easy to cultivate. The farmers in their area know that. While some still criticise their decision to go organic to this day, others take courage from it. They are converting their farm and so a small organic island is being created in the neighbourhood.
After two years of organic farming, soil fertility improves. This is also ensured by soil organisms that find a new home on the Gutmannhof. Such as beneficial insects. For them and their own minds to feel good, Evi and Martin plant a shrub or rose in front of each row of apple trees and a large tree - e.g. a walnut tree - in every meadow. A wide variety of apples grow there: Story® Inored, Braeburn, Granny Smith, Gala, Jazz, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and Kanzi®.
What do we leave our children?
Evi and Martin have had enough of the constant striving for more. "Further, higher, faster" makes no sense to them. "If someone eats a piece of cake, another one right away and then the next one, then at some point comes the moment when he can't go on. If he has to eat another one, it's too much, he gets sick. That also applies to nature," Martin puts it in a nutshell.
"Always more, always better - is a dead end.” Martin Frasnelli
"Food doesn't grow in the supermarket" they convey to Magdalena by producing fruit, vegetables and meat themselves. And with diversity and humus they want to strengthen nature in the near future. To achieve this, they use flower mixtures as seeds and start their own composting. Evi and Martin want to leave an awareness of food and an intact environment for following generations.