Agriculture and Rural Life – Structure and Culture in Rural Areas
Scholars of KAAD often experience their host country only in its urban setup. The rural areas of Germany are however a cultural space that is very important for society and landscape and they are is therefore worth exploring. To get an insight into this ‘other Germany’ was possible at the seminar “Agriculture and Rural Life – Structure and Culture in Rural Areas” which was led by the Head of the Africa Department, Dr. Marko Kuhn, and spiritual accompanied by Father Prof. Dr. Thomas Eggensperger OP from 01st to 04th October 2017. 26 scholars from 15 countries did this by first participating in a short exposure preceding the seminar. They were able to get a hands-on-experience the structural changes in agriculture and rural life in Germany. On three days they worked in groups of 2 or 3 people on farms, conversing with farmers’ families, asked questions about income, marketing and further processing. At the beginning of the seminar they reported about their exposures and it became clear: The participants had gained very impressive, often unforgettable insights. Perceptions were turned round, ideas of agriculture in Germany were deepened or corrected. The diversity of the participating farms was also impressive: everything from completely organic fruit orchards to large-scale vegetable growing. One group worked in a farm which did nothing else than cultivation of berries, another only with organic vegetables. The contrast to that was that one group was helping on a very diversified farm that combines viticulture with agriculture, livestock farming, butchery and bakery, and even serves as a place to live and work for people with to mental or physical weaknesses.
The conference part of the seminar took place in the “Bildungshaus Kloster Sankt Ulrich”, in the middle of the impressive landscape of the Southern Black Forest. St. Ulrich is an institution of the Archdiocese of Freiburg with a special mandate for the rural areas. This educational institution, especially in the form of its leader, Bernhard Nägele, was a cooperation partner of KAAD at this seminar and played a decisive role in the realization of the programme and the exposures. A presentation about structural change in German agriculture (Michael Krumm, Regierungspräsidium Freiburg) provided a lot of food for discussion as well as an input on “Global agricultural markets – Impacts on agriculture and structures in developing and industrialized countries” (Karl Wirtz, farmer and agricultural engineer). The specific task of the seminar was to shed light on the many cross-links between agricultural structures in Europe and in the countries of origin of the participants (in Asia, Latin America, Africa).
The seminar was rounded off by an excursion to the open-air museum Vogtsbauernhof (Gutach), which was concluded in Sölden, where the President of KAAD, Prof. Dr. Eberhard Schockenhoff, lives. He celebrated Holy Mass with the group in the parish church of Sölden with a subsequent evening of food, drink and merrymaking at his house.