What kind of questions do you ask a Rose Queen? How do you milk a cow? What new mustard and vinegar combinations are available? Can you and your children recognize vegetables by their smell? Is Swiss cheese lactose-free? Did you know that you don’t need to travel to Italy to get good boar salami you can get it from Sachsen in former Eastern Germany? What is the newest remote lawn mower? What should you plant in your garden when? How were the last few wine years in German vineyards?
These are just some of the questions that were answered when I visited the 1st “Land & Genuss (Country & Indulgence)” fair. The Fair was organized by the DLG (Deutsche Landwirtschafts- Gesellschaft – German Agricultural Society) which was founded in the year 1885. Today the Society has over 24,000 members and is a leading organization in the agricultural and food sectors who’s motto is to give impulses for progress focussing on such activities as: knowledge transfer, trade exhibitions, machinery and farm input tests, and food tests.
In Germany a reborn interest in country living along with the expansion of urban gardening and the general boom of gourmet cooking with specialized produce, lead the DLG and their cooperation partners and sponsors to give this new fair a whirl.
There was something for everyone at this fair along with an educational and entertaining side, and most visitors I spoke to felt that the 10 € per adult or 18 € family fee was well invested in an interesting and yummy day or afternoon.
My interest was definitely on the food side, looking for new ingredients, inspiration while also seeing what impulses can be found in the German culinary scene whose reputation isn’t as high as that of its neighbouring countries which is quite unfair since Germany has much to offer and the focus on healthy and sustainable products rises from both an interest in healthy living and as a growing and worthy industry. The German products which included charcuterie and game products, natural cheeses and interesting condiments, vinegars and wines were complimented by products from Italy, Austria, and Switzerland along with exotic teas, spices and fruits from farther away.
Many stands offered products that can normally only be ordered online and the sellers I spoke to were very pleased with peoples’ interest, the amount of products they sold at their stands and the tasty advertising they accomplished.
The combination of fresh produce and tourism was also an important topic at the fair particularly for those producers from the former East German states. Here, country life is still more authentic, most regions are still unknown to tourists although the food, landscapes and less expensive lodgings have much to offer. From the Region of the Lusatia (Lausitz in German), a former agicultural cooperative Kuh-Käse-Kilowatt continued on after the wall came down, modernized in 1999 and now also produces energy from natural biogas along with delicious cheeses from the milk of their 300 cows and calves. You can visit the cooperative, pet the cows and see how cheese is made. Also from that region I bought tender dried and smoked raw wild boar ham, absolutely delicious. The men working there were friendly, pleased with the visitors’ interest in their products and their region, answered all the questions and gladly gave out samples of their wares. They were a good example of the type of combination exhibitor the fair was aiming to bring together with consumers.
Agrotourism is very popular in Germany as more and more city families choose to vacation in special farms that are holiday retreats and give their kids opportunities to see where food comes from, play with “real” domestic animals and enjoy healthy fresh air. Many booths represented these special “resorts” mostly through regional organizations that can also be found online. Families enjoy these results as they meet other families from all across Europe and their kids literally sow their wild oats.
As I mentioned before the growth of urban gardening has also led to new designs and materials for everything from mini greenhouses, special fruit and vegetable vats for your city balcony, to robot lawn mowers for the busy Frankfurt investment banker. All this could be seen inside and outside at the Land&Genuss fair. Fancy handmade BBQ grills such as those from Feuerdesign that run on wood and will warm you and let you grill your veggies or even fry your eggs all at the same time raised much interest from the BBQ enthusiastic German audience. Insect hotels for restablizing beneficial insects in your garden could be built or bought, beekeeping and honeymaking safely explored.
Last but not least, there were live cooking session sponsored by the cooks from the Frankfurt Genuss Akademie, educational fun & games offered by the DLG, beehiving and honey-making lessons, more German, French and Italian wine to taste than you could possibly sample in one day, you could even order your custom-made whirlpool, the height of country living?
Domestic animals including: cows, calves, a horse 3 sheep, 2 goats, 3 large hens and darling little piglets gave the kids and adults an opportunity to take a closer look at and catch a whiff of country air. And even the calves were far different and much larger then the cow milking dummies in the fair’s educational area.
Along with very interesting conversations, I also enjoyed the best and purest white tea from Teekenner and the quirky mixtures and exotic packaging from Spice for Life and I can highly recommend all the creative and resourceful products such as the orange and vanilla vinegar, the raspberry honey or the sesame oils from Vanilleladen.
And I will hold dear my autographed card from Sina the Rose Queen from Steinfurth were I submitted a new rose name to win 2 entry tickets to the special Steinfurther Rosenfest- the Rose Festival – to be held this year on July 13th – 16th – I hope to see you there. When asked what you needed to do to become a Rose queen, Sina told me that aside from being from Steinfurth you had to know all about roses but most children who grow up in Steinfurth start helping in the rose fields at the early age of five. Sina was gracious, pretty and knew all about roses. A worthy Rose Queen and a pretty additional to this potpourri fair.
I would say the fair was a success for all involved and I hope to tell you more about the 2nd Land&Genuss that will hopefully take place in Frankfurt again next year.
P.S. Interesting magazines in German only on Country Living and Recipes can be found here: Landlust and LandGenuss.