Who we are

Mathis Engel

Serena Engel

Diane Tatum

Jared Rust

The initiators of AUI

and how AUI came to be

Serena grew up in Australia and Jared in the USA, but the two met and came together in 2014 in Taiwan, where they were both living at the time. Inspired by their desire to learn biodynamic farming, they went to Germany a year later, where in 2017 they established a small farm - the “Helenenhof.”

With the help and support of various people from the local community and far beyond, over the next six years the Helenenhof evolved into a place where, on 2.5 hectares of land, an abundance of heavenly food is grown by hand and given away freely to everyone who comes.

This practice is what Serena and Jared have dubbed “Universal Basic Nourishment,” a practical application of the belief that good food is a human right, a way of removing the often ethics-compromising factor of financial considerations from the realm of food production and distribution.

(You can read a more elaborate description of the Helenenhof here.)

For the first five years, the costs of running the farm were more or less covered by the sale of a small amount of the harvests to a few local restaurants, with supplemented support from Serena and Jared’s performances as the music duo “The String Bean Party”. But by 2022 all farm-produce sales were stopped entirely, so that the income from music was essentially financing this community project.

However, throughout the short life of the Helenenhof, the occasional monetary gift arrived at the farm, from individuals who have been inspired by what they experience there. This helped not only to cover routine costs, but also to finance bigger, transformative projects, such as the excavation of a perpetually-soaked corner of pasture, thereby allowing that biome to return to its ancient state as a body of standing freshwater, which in turn has provided living space to diverse species of insects, birds, and especially reptiles and amphibians who are otherwise becoming endangered in central Europe due to vanishing ecosystems.

In another case, a fundraising campaign in 2020-2021 helped to finance the building of a glasshouse addition to the farmhouse, which has allowed the Helenenhof to independently raise all of its own seedlings, rather than being forced to rely on suppliers, who often have only hybrid varieties on offer.

Such projects are just the dawn of Helenenhof-evolution for Serena and Jared, who have big dreams, ideas and indeed solid plans for the further flowering of the farm (more about that here); and such generosity as the community has already shown them has served to feed these ambitions to the point of reaching out beyond Kisslegg, or Germany, or even Europe.

Enter Diane and Matty, Serena’s parents. Diane came from the USA and Matty from Germany, but they went to live in Australia in 1994, where they’ve both shined in their work as Waldorf educators - Diane even as a teacher trainer and consultant, and Matty also as an arborist and therapist/life-coach. These two have found themselves at the threshold of a new life-chapter, where the possibilities to share their gifts with the world are open and unbound by job commitments.

The four of us thus came together at the end of 2022, working with an Austrian-based organisation called “Verein Faireint Bildungsverband für ein neues WIR” (roughly translated: “Educational Organisation for a new ‘WE’”) to found AUI - Association of Universal Individuals, officially registered in Austria, but with a vision and an impact that knows no borders.

We are inspired to build centres of manifold culture, down-to-earth education and profound transformation, to build communities, like that at the Helenenhof, all over the planet. We imagine expanding the scope of what these communities freely provide beyond agriculture to include all the diverse gifts that each of us has to offer, not only us in AUI leadership, but also AUI members who are inspired to freely share their individual blessings with the world.

We have friends, contacts, and even offers of collaboration and support in many corners of the world, including Taiwan, Australia and USA; and we already have a currently active project in Ecuador, where Diane and Matty spent the first several months of 2023 living in and working with an indigenous community in the Amazon rainforest, assisting them in a rebirthing process of their education system.

They are working together with elders and young leaders from four indigenous tribes to develop curricula that both recognise, value and perpetuate the wealth of their ancient cultural tradition, and satisfy the educational requirements set forth by the government, thus bringing harmony and reconciliation to an environment currently torn between the diverse demands and impulses of both modernism and traditionalism.

(You can learn more about the Amazonas Educational Initiative here.)

If you find what we’re doing and dreaming inspiring, get involved! Become a member. Support us. Come visit the AUI outpost at the Helenenhof. Talk to us about your ideas. We are excited about our collective future!

Our Mission

Below you will find an excerpt (translated from the original German) from the officially registered statutes of AUI, namely section 2, “Zweck des Vereins” (purpose of the association):

The association "AUI - Association of Universal Individuals - We harmonise diversity" whose activity is not aimed at profit, aims to inspire people to recognise and celebrate the diversity in themselves, in other beings, in nature, in the universe and in all that is, and to develop this diversity into the basic key to a harmonious unity.

The association promotes the universal diversity of all beings, on all levels, thus providing spaces that allow all beings who are dedicated to love and light to be active and to radiate. And simultaneously the association seeks to accompany beings in discovering for themselves these spaces in which they can create, celebrate and live diversity and harmony.

These universal and harmonious processes affect and benefit all people, other beings, nature and the entire universe. At the same time, they serve the development of the individual, strengthening the connection and unity of beings with each other and with all that is.

Even if this seems at first to be a paradox, the individual and the universal are interdependent in terms of harmonious unity through universal diversity.

Thus, the association wants to demonstrate to humankind that through the tension of these opposing poles, momentum, movement and warmth are created on many levels. Furthermore, through these processes, the association promotes the following:

- Discovering and developing one’s own truth
- Humans, animals, plants and all other beings receiving everything necessary for creating a way of interacting with one another in appreciation and on equal terms
- Designing active processes in order to grow on all levels, to settle on the earth and to thrive
- Giving space to expand, elevate and entwine individually and universally through diversity into harmonic unison.
- Designing and enhancing universal images

Through this unleashing of the potential of humankind, the association enables that equity and mutual appreciation are not only perceived, but also reciprocally encouraged and lived.

In the light of the evolving processes and the insights acquired, the association investigates possibilities for application and implementation and shares them, as well as the technologies that emerge from them, with others by means of informative and educational activities.