Weilheim: Harvesting time at the Gmünder Hof – young people prepare for working life

Wilheim – The young people of the Bridge to Career project in Gumünder Hof in Wilheim had a tangible sense of accomplishment when they harvested early potato varieties Bilana and Antonia: the young men and women collected beautiful potatoes from the ground. A sense of accomplishment is an important characteristic of the work that the people at Gmünder Hof do. Social farming is not just about taking care of the sheep, chickens and rabbits allowed to live here, mowing the lawns, making hay and growing and using vegetables and fruits.

In the “Bridge to Career” project, implemented by Brücke Oberland eV with funding from the Weilheim Employment Agency and the Weilheim and Garmisch-Partenkirchen Employment Centers, young people and young adults gain practical work experience. They are between 16 and 25 years old and have not yet found or lost a training position. In April, young people sowed about 50 kilograms of seeds in a potato field of 450 square meters: early potatoes and an old variety of fodder beet.

Now, at the start of the late summer harvest, it’s time for the old farm bulldogs to render a loyal service to the fieldworkers. The tractor from 1958 was owned by former farm owner Elizabeth Gmunder and was renovated in 2016 as part of the farm’s expansion for social purposes. For the harvest, head farmer Michael Kirchbichler and housekeeper Susan Habersitzer attached an older 1940’s potato harvester to the Bulldog and used it to plow the field.

Socio-territorial agriculture

Young people from “Bridge to Career” collected the harvest, sorted and cleaned potatoes that were now available fresh from the farm. Customers decide for themselves what seasonal products are from local and social farming. There are no fixed prices, neither for fresh eggs from 20 farm chickens nor for homemade jams, herbal oils or fresh vegetables like zucchini or squash. Farmer Kirschbichler knows from experience that sometimes one or the other faces a difficult decision. For example, if you calculate only the costs of feed and materials for chickens, then the cost of an egg is 30 cents, but labor is not yet included here.

Activities on the farm introduce young people to working life, here they experience what it means to work 39 hours a week, take responsibility for animals and daily operations and learn agricultural, manual and gastronomic skills. Even if they later aspire to a career in a completely different profession, they will be comprehensively supported here by application training and taught modules. The goal is to create a good and sustainable transition into working life. This also includes recognizing and using one’s potential, which of course is not something for most of them.

Back to Life

Some participants have special needs due to family, school, financial or personal problems. Joanna (19), for example, has been through hard times. “The idea of ​​returning to a normal life felt impossible. But now, as I make my way to Weilheim every day, I am so grateful and positive to be able to seize this opportunity. To accomplish what I thought was impossible. I feel so empowered by all the experiences here that I now know that I can do anything in the future.”

When asked what helped him here at the Gmünder Hof, Melvin (20) said that in discussions with social workers *he realized a lot about himself and that he got a little closer to himself. Working on the farm made him more self-confident and physically and mentally resilient. Thanks to the positive atmosphere, Enrico (19 years old) was able to get out of himself a little more on the project “Bridge to Career”. Because of the bad experiences, it was very difficult for him.

Pius (17 years old) came here to take courses, to find vocational training and to connect with his peers. His goal was already to work abroad. But he did not know any other details. Thanks to the support, it was now clear to him that he would like to get professional training as a gardener specializing in ornamental cultivation.

Eggs and homemade or self-grown produce from the Gmünder Hof are always available Thursday and Friday between 10 am and 1 pm directly on the farm. With the purchase, Oberland Bridge offers and projects are supported. Information on the emergence of social farming and the Gmünder Hof is available at www.gmuender-hof.de.

from creesepot

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