Collaboration on the farm is very much encouraged, and thus for a brief or extended time, people can embark on an individual journey with Serena and Jared, in the field or on the farm, to bring nature and themselves into harmony in such a way that a genuine stewardship of both results. At the farm, nature wants and needs to be brought together with the essence of the people working there, their bodies, souls and spirits. This is made possible on this farm in a unique way. At Helenenhof, man becomes an explorer of that which is alive - insofar as he wishes to do so.
Freedom and Independence
Serena and Jared cultivate and nurture this desire, and freedom and independence play a very important role in this. Money-driven economic views should not interfere with the work in the fields and obscure an uncompromising regard for nature, nor should they influence it in any way. The vegetables and fruits should grow in the field, together with the animals, which nature and man have jointly recognized through a profound relationship as being right for this place. Therefore, the usual money-bound economic objectives of vegetable cultivation must not come into play, because that would hinder this collaborative process through non-natural economic modes of operation.
Finding a term for their economic model is difficult. It could be approximately described by the term "Radical Economy of the Common Good". By abandoning ordinary economic valuations in vegetable cultivation, pure, tangible valuables can be created. Money has no relationship to plants or vegetables. Vegetables grow without money, but it takes human dedication and a good environment. Therefore, Helenenhof is a place where value is directly created without the influence of conventional economic, monetary thoughts. Everyone should be able to enjoy the garden without having to think about money. Serena and Jared agree that this is the true, genuine, value-generating economy: "Nature provides us with valuable fruits; these are given to us - therefore we give them to others".
Gifts from Nature
The field is worked by hand (and foot) and every detail is taken care of. Fruiting plants are planted next to flowers that match them and rare wild plants that are present in large numbers (such as Klappertopf). Loving attention is paid to the existing insects, butterflies, birds, small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians (in the specially excavated pond). After seven years of cultivation in this way, the population of these animals has increased significantly. Among them are also very rare species, for example among butterflies, which attracts considerable attention beyond the region.
Each and every plant and animal is taken into consideration. The nurturing of the natural world and its interrelationships can be seen and experienced in a unique way at Helenenhof. One can experience how nature distributes gifts when one works with and in it.
Giving to the Helenenhof is allowed
Giving is allowed. However, not giving out of the thought that one has received (taken away) something from Helenenhof and wants to compensate for this. Giving is allowed only without such thoughts. Those who would like to contribute something to Helenenhof are welcome, but not out of their own "value" ideas but because they have recognized the sense of such an initiative and would like to support it. This offers room for creativity in giving! And beauty! The beauty of pure giving can be experienced when it is done from the whole heart of the giver.
Money has a function at Helenenhof und therefore it must be produced
Serena and Jared's income is essentially generated by their musical performances under the name "The String Bean Party". The music of these two has a quality that the author of this text can only describe as "pure", in the sense of extremely wholesome soul food. Those who are interested can buy a CD or listen for free online. The String Bean Party is a musical endeavor, and the "production of Euros" is permitted to have its place there - of course, tickets are sold for performances, which provides a financial basis for the musicians and thus for the work at Helenenhof. But as much as possible everyone should be allowed to enjoy the music of The String Bean Party, independent of their wallet - many performances can also be attended on a donation basis. No concert ends without the invitation that one may visit the Helenenhof and harvest vegetables, with guidance, if necessary. Most new visitors became aware of the Helenenhof by attending a concert of The String Bean Party.
Organic, Dynamic, Healthy: Helenenhof is a self-education and self-development space
The Helenenhof is a constantly-evolving, in-depth, biodynamic educational project. People can come to this educational space to learn, for example, how to use methods of hand-cultivation that make a vegetable garden what it can and wants to be, and then how to apply what they have learned for themselves at home. Or how to deal well with bees, other field animals and flowers in cultivation, and how to design a garden-organism that makes it all possible - how humans can work in the midst of it.
Since nature is in a constant process of growth and decay, it is humans who have to think about the shelf life of produce if they want to enjoy the harvest for an extended time: vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, beans, pumpkins - everything that can be preserved. Therefore, at Helenenhof, one can learn natural, people-friendly processing and preservation techniques through various methods such as canning or drying. Interest in this is considerable and is constantly increasing.
A few thousand preserving jars are filled each year with produce from the garden - because none of the harvest should be lost. Helenenhof processes, eats or gives away everything that the farm produces. Therefore, methods of preservation play a major role, especially during harvest time. The preserving jars are filled with many of the products of the field, e.g. pumpkin, zucchini or cucumbers, and these are also given away as gifts. Various mixes of herbs, spices and fruits also play a role. Thereby creativity is also allowed to express itself. All this leads to space and organisation problems in the confines of the existing farm kitchen and needs a solution for the near future.
A space that unites heaven and earth, or: Goethe would have liked to be a guest at the Helenenhof
If Goethe was alive today he would have enjoyed the Helenenhof in Rempertshofen-Kisslegg in Allgäu and its two initiators Serena and Jared! The Privy Councillor from Weimar would probably have enjoyed the first-class vegetables and other products of the farm very much! But beyond that, like Serena and Jared, he would have understood it not only as a place for the cultivation of vegetables, but moreover as a place for people to research and be educated about nature - and a place where nature is really understood as an active, weaving organism. An education in nature that learns to recognize the ideas of nature herself, to consider the needs of every single plant and to give every animal its place: this can take place when heaven and earth come together, through humankind as mediator, to work the land in this spirit - just like at Helenenhof. And there is enough work: agriculture is done with hands and feet, but without machines. According to Serena and Jared, there is enough human power. It would thus be possible to apply the knowledge gained at Helenenhof to farming elsewhere - for example also, on a smaller scale, at home in one's own garden - without machines. The tools needed for this, such as hoe or knife, shovel, fork or sickle, are widely known. Since the Bronze Age, these have been used almost unchanged in form and purpose, are simple in design and easy to handle.
The closer an individual gets to the agricultural happenings at Helenenhof - or even better, the better one understands oneself as a part of the natural happenings there, and the more one works right in the middle of them - the more love comes into play. Love for the earth, for the beings working both above and below the garden, and for oneself. At Helenenhof one can join in on the work - long term or short. Whoever gets involved - helpers, guests and “consumers” who simply drop by - can receive a lot themselves: for their own individuality, for their skills in their own garden and for their own wholesome enjoyment, all of which does not exploit nature, but rather supports it to bloom.
The peculiarity of Helenenhof is that the usual economic models associated with agriculture, which are deeply ingrained in the minds of most people, are rendered irrelevant on the farm. The vegetables and other harvested goods are given away without any strings attached. Even the thousands of canning jars full of preserved vegetables and fruits are given away just like that. How alien this eco-model is to "ordinary people" can be seen in the fact that the recipients, according to Serena and Jared, often have a hard time dealing with this gift-giving.
The culinary arts at Helenenhof maintain high standards and are constantly being developed. Stove and kitchen thus become sites of refinement and tastefulness - and of nutritional culture and also nutritional research. Many an individual at this place becomes utterly convinced that it is worth paying attention to the quality and preparation of food. At this level, food is nourishment for body, soul and spirit. Or in other words: a place of health cultivation.
Nothing happens without individual contribution. Everyone can decide how deeply they want to get involved with such an initiative and with Serena and Jared. And that is how it is meant to be. Helenenhof is not a teaching project but a self-education project, where each individual is responsible for his or her own education.
The Helenenhof offers an educational and self-development space for people who are interested in organic vegetable cultivation, the preparation and preservation of food, and a cultivation method that honors both nature and human beings. Thereby the possibility is provided to practice the interaction of nature and human beings. Each collaborator can take part in his or her own project, thereby honing the senses through a profound perceptual practice in the garden.
Serena and Jared are not only "there" on the farm, but they have a special (intentional!) effect through their warm, pleasant and competent way of interacting with nature and people: they stand, as human beings, right in the middle of the action! They affect those who participate at Helenenhof as "whole" human beings, in the truest sense of the word. Whoever works with them will (in the opinion of the author of this text) develop a pleasantly clear and warm longing for this state of "whole-human-being". Those who embark on this path can continue to develop various skills and abilities: for example, decision-making, and the development of an initiative that connects concepts and practices, for example, in creating a herb garden. One's knowledge of the interrelationships between humans and nature (and their underlying concepts) increases significantly as one engages in the activity. Self-efficacy can be experienced and self-empowerment can be lived. One could also say: higher-self-development has its place at Helenenhof.
Here, philosophically speaking, the archetype "All is One" can be experienced in the sense of "diversity in harmony": to bring one's own body, soul and spirit into a "musically vibrating" resonance with the spirit of the earth.
The next step in development
At Helenenhof the art of cultivation / processing / preservation can be learned and one's individual character can be developed, but adequate facilities to make this possible on a larger scale are lacking. More and more visitors and helpers would like to contribute but unfortunately there is not enough space available for the accommodation of individuals and groups, for the processing of the harvest and for temporary storage.
A separate building must be constructed for this purpose. The plans for this lay ready and waiting in the Helenenhof drawer. (Read more about that here.)
The Helenenhof in Allgäu
Written by Jürgen
In 2018, Serena completed a two-year basic education course in biodynamic gardening at the Freie Landbauschule Bodensee. Below is her final project, titled "Maximising and Supporting Biodiversity in Agriculture", which describes in more detail how the excavation of the pond, the planting of hedges and other projects and practices at the Helenenhof are nurturing the healthy life of the surrounding soils, plants, and animals.