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Kartoffelkombinat

June 2016

Since last year Dani and I are members of a farming cooperative, that aims to feed several hundreds households in Munich with sustainable, organic and fair self produced fruits and vegetables. The Kartoffelkombinat is (hopefully) about to move to its first own farm next year, so the summerfest this year was probably the last one in the leased market garden of Schönbrunn.

Way out

Schönbrunn is about 25 km from our home – an easy bike ride through the flat former moorlands north of Munich. Somebody just forgot to turn on the summer this year ;)
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Kartoffelkombinat

We have been to Schönbrunn a couple of times to help with some farm work or boil down tons of tomatoes to fill hundreds of glasses with delicious Sugo tomato sauce. Anyway we took the chance at this year's 'Sommerfest' to discover the market garden once more and get explained, how our weekly box of vegetables is produced and what future plans the cooperative has with its own farm (fingers crossed!).
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Organisation

About 750 boxes with fruits and vegetables are packed every week to be transported to several pick-up points throughout Munich. Today about 45 % of the crop is produced by the cooperative itself in Schönbrunn, the other 55 % are bought from a handful of organic partner farms. The goal is at least 80 % self-supply – so a year of growing and harvesting should be well planned.
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Members

The cooperative is open for everyone interested in changing the way we live and consume. So its members are a potpourri of Munich's society, from students and young families to a couple, that even celebrated its 50th wedding anniversary on the Sommerfest :)
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The 'Verein'

The Kartoffelkombinat is not just a cooperative agricultural project, but aims for a bigger social impact. So there is also a non-profit organisation or Verein, that combines activities such as education for children or integration of refuees under its roof. The new shirts (for members of all shapes and sizes ;)) are the first hands-on product of the integration project.
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Gardening

The cooperative employs professional gardeners, who care about the whole market garden and vegetable production on a daily basis. However, every two weeks members can volunteer and help getting some of the tasks done that don't require too much professional skills ;)
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More than honey

The cooperative also keeps some honey bees in Schönbrunn – more as an interest in ecology and natural science than in producing tons of honey. If you are interested: The beekeepers do also blog about their work.
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Way back

There might be easier ways of getting to Schönbrunn and back – the suburban train for example – but definitely no more beautiful way than taking the bike! And if the Kartoffelkombinat caught your interest: check out its website for more information about this amazing Community Supported Agriculture project!
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© 2017 Benedikt Altschuh