Food Forests

Waldgarten Hof an den Teichen

The 1ha food forest Waldgarten Hof an den Teichen is located in Lüneburg, northern Germany in a temperate climate. It is about 1 hour inland from the Northern Sea, and hence, has mild oceanic conditions. It emerged from a collaboration of the permaculture farm Hof an den Teichen and our Food Forest Lab seminar at Leuphana University Lüneburg. About half of the food forest was planted in May 2022 with the help of 120 volunteering engineers that were on a company excursion. Within a few hours, more than 6.000 plants including apple, pear, plum and quince trees, honey berry and raspberry shrubs, culinary herbs, and flowers were planted. The planting day was planned and guided by a group of students from our Food Forest Lab (see more in an article on Further planting took place in December 2022 and included fruit and fooder hedge plants such as beech, oak, hazelnut, hele, ash tree and elderberry. The vision entails to generate income that sustains two part-time positions of food foresters, one focusing food production, the other education.

Preparing and planting the first part of the food forest with around 140 people

In 2021, the farm had acquired 5ha of additional farm land and was open for new farming ideas. The vision of a food forest matched their values of biodiversity, farming with old and exotic varieties of plants and animals, and working with nature, using organic methods. They already run a variety of farming systems including permaculture vegetable and herb gardens, orchards with more than 200 trees of old pear and apple varieties, pastures with sheep, pig and chicken as well as bees. They grow more than 200 annual and perennial plant varieties and raise livestock in an animal-friendly way. The farm attracts many visitors, especially families, and sells produce at their farm shop and café. The foundation Campus Stiftung für nachhaltige und zukunftsfähige Entwicklung sponsors farm and food forest development. A crowdfunding campaign further raised 15.000€ directly and another 5.000 € in donations covering initial plant costs.

First draft of the Waldgarten Hof an den Teichen site plan showing the highest layers

The 1ha food forest is located at the entrance of the new farm land. The remaining land is used for a system called symbiotic agriculture, which is a biodiverse silvopastural system that integrates chicken, pig and sheep with fruit trees. Overall, the land is surrounded by monoculture fields of other farms. The farm is located around 1km southwest from the new land.

Location of the farm Hof an den Teichen and the new land (red)

Around 12 people work at Hof an den Teichen in part-time jobs or are contracted in the high season. Further people volunteer in one of the various work areas. Many contributed to the food forest development with their expertise e.g., through mulch production, nursing herbs and flower seedlings and laying the irrigation system. Klaus Hoppe leads both the farm and foundation and is an integral part of the food forest development. Agnes Friedel became the main manager of the food forest, overseeing its maintenance supported by volunteers and giving tours. She is co-creator of the Food Forest Lab which we started teaching together in 2019 and works at Leuphana University in educational development. With her PhD on forest ecology in 2005 and as a passionate gardener, food forestry comes to her naturally.