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Bonus Blog

Kevin Bacon: The Christmas Pig

While in Heidelberg I made (purchased) a new friend. A little pig ornament, I named him Kevin Bacon: The Christmas Ham. The reason he is a Christmas ham is because he was purchased at an amazing Christmas store in Heidelberg. Once the rest of my class departed and I was left alone he became my traveling companion through the remainder of my journey in Germany.

My new friend!

My new friend!

Visited some of his relatives

Visited some of his relatives

He's taken charge of trip planning

He's taken charge of trip planning

Floatin on a lilly pad

Floatin on a lilly pad

Back in the north pole with Santa

Back in the north pole with Santa

Workin on a u-boat

Workin on a u-boat

He's become a decorated communist

He's become a decorated communist

He's a natural born sheep herder

He's a natural born sheep herder

We've taken over a ship

We've taken over a ship

Captain Bacon plotting our next course

Captain Bacon plotting our next course

Back in Cruces for some Trivia

Back in Cruces for some Trivia

They killed it!

They killed it!

Posted by Ariel K 03:09 Archived in Germany Tagged my christmas santa lost kevin mind journey ham bacon i've Comments (0)

Auf Wiedersehen Deutschland - Goodbye Germany

Final thoughts

My final thoughts on agriculture in Germany is that despite being separated by an ocean we're not that different.

In almost every meeting we attended during our trip through Germany and it's agricultural industry we could compare an organization to one we have in America. The BMEL is the German equivalent of the USDA and they have some of the same focus areas that the USDA does. The Farmers Association in Baden-Wuerttemberg is what we would call a Farm Bureau.

While the others don't have direct equivalents their missions are one we can all relate to. The Berlin Food Policy Council is concerned about feeding the people of Berlin, Pro Agro seeks to help small businesses and producers, Braumanufaktur Forsthaus Templin is keeping tradition alive with their brewing practices, Farmly is working on eliminating food deserts using vertical gardening and brining communities together through their meetings. On a larger scale the German government is putting a larger focus on the health and nutrition and are investing in organic farmers and educating the public on healthy eating. The BMEL has a community education center with the purpose of teaching the people of Berlin healthy eating habits as well as offering healthy recipes, and organic farmers receive an extra stipend for growing organic food.

While we have the same bright hopes for the future, we seem to also make some of the same mistakes. Large organizations are given priority over smaller and local producers. Both countries import many products that are often sold cheaper than products made locally. This leads to people choosing to purchase the cheaper imported products. No matter how much they want to shop locally, rising costs will make them choose whatever they're able to afford.

One major difference we have with Germany is one how they view agricultural education. In the US kids can enter an agricultural class or organization as early as elementary school. In Germany, unless they were raised on a farm, their citizens won't receive any agricultural focused education unless they enter a vocational program in their late teens. While I think both countries understand the importance of agriculture and farming it seems only the US sees the value in starting children down the path of agriculture as early as possible.

In conclusion, we're not so different from our European cousins and I believe there is a lot we can teach each other. We should all seek to understand other cultures and learn from them if we hope to continue to grow as a global society.

A bag full of water used to water a tree

A bag full of water used to water a tree

Old tractors in German the museum of agriculture

Old tractors in German the museum of agriculture

A collage of childrens' drawings at the John Deere Forum

A collage of childrens' drawings at the John Deere Forum

A plaace at the University of Hohenheim

A plaace at the University of Hohenheim

The cows at feeding time

The cows at feeding time

John Deere Tractors

John Deere Tractors

A list of some of the key problems they are working to solve

A list of some of the key problems they are working to solve

Another fermenter

Another fermenter

Posted by Ariel K 03:02 Archived in Germany Tagged germany Comments (0)

Green

It's such a green country

Germany is a very green country. This was a major difference I noticed between Germany and the United States, especially compared to New Mexico but that's a climate/location issue. Even Berlin, the capital of Germany and its largest city by population, has no shortage of green spaces. Compare that with some of the largest cities in the US and it's like night and day. The one thing I saw in Stuttgart that I found the most amazing was in a plaza near a large park, where the US would have beautiful ornamental flower growing they were letting wild flowers grow. It was like a small patch of nature in a city.

On my trip back to New Mexico I had a layover at LAX, the main airport in Los Angeles. As the plane flew over LA I looked out the window and took in sight of a city almost completely devoid of the lush greenery I immediately fell in love with in Germany. For as far as the eye can see, it was a sea of houses, streets, businesses and occasionally I could pick out a park and of course most of the houses had backyards with grass and there were trees lining streets and a few in yards. But, none of it had that sense of life that Germany has.

To me this difference comes from our need to capitalize on every bit of available space we have. An area can't just be left sitting there without making someone money. Not to say that there isn't the same thoughts in Germany but at least on the surface it's not the same as what we have here.

In Germany if a farmer wants any kind of government assistance they are required to set aside a decent piece of their land where they are not allowed to operate. There are of course arguments to be made against this practice, it can and has hurt small farmers, but it shows that Germany from the top down has a vested interest in preserving nature and helping it rebuild the damaged parts. In the state of Florida a private investment company was allowed to buy what was supposed to be protected land so that they could build a shopping center and apartments. There seems to be a fundamental difference in opinion in protecting nature between The US and Germany.

Maybe I'm just speaking as a tourist that is unaware of underlying issues in Germany but, all you have to do is google both countries to see the difference in how each country treats nature.

Arial view of a neighborhood in Los Angeles

Arial view of a neighborhood in Los Angeles

A lake at a botanical garden in Frankfurt

A lake at a botanical garden in Frankfurt

Wild flowers growing in Stuttgart

Wild flowers growing in Stuttgart

A community garden in Frankfurt

A community garden in Frankfurt

Vines growing on a house on a river in Strasbourg, France

Vines growing on a house on a river in Strasbourg, France

Stuttgart from on top of the tv tower

Stuttgart from on top of the tv tower

A panorama of Stuttgart from the tv tower

A panorama of Stuttgart from the tv tower

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle

A vineyard on a hill

A vineyard on a hill

Posted by Ariel K 02:48 Archived in Germany Tagged green germany castle heidelberg stuttgart Comments (0)

Bad Vibel

Bio-Dynamic farm Dottenfeiderhof

The only agriculture tour we attended in Heidelberg and a look into my dream life took place at the Bio-Dynamic farm Dottenfeiderhof. It's more than just a farm, it's a whole community. The people that work on the farm have a vested interest in its success. They're not in it for the money, in fact, most of the people that work there don't get regular pay. They live and work on the farm because it brings them a sense of fulfillment that. All of the money earned from the farm and the café goes back into the farm.

The whole community has an old look to it. It was like we stepped back into the past.

The farm is completely self sustaining. Everything they eat, and everything the livestock eat is grown and processed on the farm. The cows are bred for purpose but also for their looks. They are mostly black with some spots of white one them. The cows are kept with their calf until the calf is ready to be weened off of their mother's milk. The pigs are fed fresh food from the farm as well as leftovers from the café and processing. Just like with the cows, mother and piglet are left together for as long as they need to be. Along with regular crops and livestock they also have several beehives around the farm. The bees of course provide honey but they are also used for the pollinating capabilities.

Along with their farm work they also work on educating the community about agriculture. They have a school within the community where people live and work on the farm while learning about agriculture. They also go into schools to teach children about agriculture. This was the only place that spoke about agricultural education as we practice it in the United States. Going into schools and teach children about what goes into growing their food.

The last stop on our tour of the farm was a favorite spot of our tour guide. A bakery where they bake bread in an old wood fired brick oven using ceramic bowls.

A recurring conversation I have with friends is us buying land and starting our own little community. Seeing one that has run so successfully for so long brings me some hope that we could one day realize that dream.

Chickens

Chickens

The cows at feeding time

The cows at feeding time

A cow and her recently born calf

A cow and her recently born calf

A calf

A calf

One of the fields on the farm

One of the fields on the farm

A sow and her piglets

A sow and her piglets

Wood fire brick oven

Wood fire brick oven

The bowls used to bake bread

The bowls used to bake bread

Some of the beehives on the farm

Some of the beehives on the farm

Posted by Ariel K 01:47 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Mannheim

John Deere

The main focus of our trip to Mannheim was a wonderful tour of the John Deere factory. We were there first tour after having to shut them down due to Covid.

The history of this factory, like the history of many buildings in Germany goes back to before WW2. It was originally owned by Heinrich Lanz, a man who was very progressive in the benefits he offered his employees, and he sold a variety of farm equipment all across Germany. During WW2 the factory, with the exception of a single water tower and a statue of Heinrich, was completely destroyed by allied bombings. It was rebuilt after the war and the company was shortly after acquired by John Deere.

The John Deere factory in Mannheim is their largest factory outside of the United States. The factory concentrates on the production of small to medium-sized 6MC, 6RC, 6M and 6R series tractors, selling them in other European countries, North America, Australia, Asia, Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, and New Zealand. Farmers in Wester Europe are the largest customers for this factory with slightly more than half being shipped to the western EU countries. John Deere makes around $3 billion per year in profit from this factory alone.

They did not specify if this applied to all John Deere factories but, the tractors built in the Mannheim factory are mostly made from parts designed and built by John Deere themselves. Most of what goes into the tractors in Mannheim is built in other nearby factories. Mannheim also builds gearboxes used on machines within the factory and shipped to other John Deere facilities across the globe and acts as a major center for research and development for John Deere’s mid-range tractors from 70 to 250 horsepower.

They don't keep any tractors on hand to sell. Every tractor on the the property has already been sold and is simply waiting to be assembled and the shipped. There is a wide variety of specifications the customers can choose, no two tractors on the property is the same.

During lockdown the employees Forum at the factory, open to the public and where tours start, needed a new way to reach the public and farmer so they setup an area in the Forum where they could host talks and provide useful information to farmers about their products and agriculture.

Some of the tractors made in the Mannheim factory

Some of the tractors made in the Mannheim factory

Statue of Heinrich Lanz at the John Deere Factory

Statue of Heinrich Lanz at the John Deere Factory

A John Deere tractor in the John Deere Forum

A John Deere tractor in the John Deere Forum

John Deere Tractors

John Deere Tractors

The computers used to edit videos

The computers used to edit videos

a recreation of the first tractor made by John Deere

a recreation of the first tractor made by John Deere

The Forum

The Forum

Posted by Ariel K 01:31 Archived in Germany Tagged agriculture john deere mannheim Comments (0)

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