We, Samuel (student of environmental education) and Serena, have come together with our questions, wishes and dreams and decided to give birth to a new project at Helenenhof. This project is born out of our shared love for the forest being and our desire that we, as individuals and as humanity as a whole, practice an empathetic way of actively developing the relationship between ourselves and this forest being.
Forests that are not used for commercial purposes, such as logging, are rare in Central Europe. This is an important reflection of the nature and state of our general relationship crisis with the world around us. The prevailing attitude is that humans roam through their surroundings and look at everything and approach everything with the attitude "What can you do for me and my purposes?". Our narcissistic behavior towards the forest gives us the impression that we have gained something, but viewed holistically, it leads us collectively into true poverty, which arises from a determined short-sightedness.
Do we want to unintentionally promote this poverty? Or are we striving together to rebuild the relationship and consciously initiate healing? We want to be actively involved in transforming this into a situation that serves everyone. We long for a forest that can simply be a forest in its own right. This means that it stands on its own and can develop in the way that the organisms of the forest strive for together, including ourselves as essential members of it.
Nature gives us infinite treasures; it is a universal, constant and unconditional offer. We, on the other hand, have the free choice of how we want to behave towards nature and can make a conscious decision to accommodate, promote and protect natural processes. We want to do this by participating coherently, where and how it makes sense. The rest of nature must be well, if we are also to be well, naturally. We are connected, in relationship with each other and must actively strengthen this relationship, especially through self-reflection.
With this in mind, we will transform an almost one-hectare piece of meadow on the Helenenhof grounds into a natural area in the form of a nature-oriented forest with a deep-water pond. As "pupils", we aim to consciously perceive the forest-nature processes and interrelationships and thereby initiate a change in ourselves. From this we want to take note of what we can contribute to the fulfillment of the natural area.
The area should become a piece of wilderness. Wilderness in the traditional sense, which is not complete without people. In such an ecosystem, our existence is just as important as the oak tree and the squirrel. Not only as observers, but also as individuals and collectives, by ensuring that we support the growth of living beings in their units and contexts in a meaningful way. Spaces that do not yet exist are created to offer the animal kingdom a welcoming home. When the spaces are there, the inhabitants will come all by themselves. The more we collectively strive for harmonious, meaningful diversity, the more our overall potential and presence exponentially expands and serves as an independent, joyful forest neighborhood.
We want to create the most ideal space possible for living, which will also be an enrichment for us humans and offer us the opportunity to perceive the rest of the natural world in its being in "real time". We are embarking on a major learning process that will courageously promote our shared future viability.
A living example of this: We at Helenenhof have already created a pond on the grounds in a muddy corner of the meadow where something like this has been wanted for some time. A few hours after the excavator was finished, water from the surrounding meadows and pits flowed in and the pond quickly filled up. The water remained in the pond due to the natural substrate of blue-grey clay. Shortly afterwards, the first frogspawn and the first self-seeded aquatic plants appeared. In the meantime, such a lively biotope has developed - with a variety of plants and animals such as frogs, toads, newts, salamanders, snakes, dragonflies and many other species that feel at home and do their thing. The living space in the first pond is very popular and it seems as if we need to expand the habitat.
To this end, we have now created a second, even larger and deeper pond, the layout of the second pond derived from another wet spot on the meadow. The first pond provides privacy for breeding waterfowl and other creatures in need of rest. It is not visible from the second pond due to an excavated earth wall, although they are next to each other and connected by a small channel. We will then plant trees around the new deep-water pond, which will grow into a forest.
Almost all the forests we have are used for forestry and are also planted for specific purposes. We are trying to find out how a forest would grow naturally, which trees occur here historically and can live together on such an area, while at the same time looking to the future. Our aim is to accompany the area to the best of our ability so that a balanced forest ecosystem emerges from the meadow. We want to achieve a natural harmony and support this in the development process. The new pond was the first step and has already been professionally dredged (27.10.2023). The young trees will then be planted around the pond in the coming weeks. We already have many small trees that grow naturally on the Helenenhof, e.g. maples, alders and ash trees, which only need to be replanted in the forest area. However, the forest will also consist of oaks, beeches and other deciduous and coniferous trees as well as shrubs and a variety of different wild perennials. An important part of the forest will also be open areas where we will place Benjes hedges. Various plants can spread there naturally and their seeds will be dispersed by the birds. It will not be a forestry forest, instead we are trying to grow a forest as close to nature as possible and give space for a balanced ecosystem full of symbioses to develop.
The forest will be a long-term project and we are trying to create the best possible foundation for it. For the continued care and maintenance of the natural area, we are looking for forest sponsors who will work with us to "raise" and care for the forest. The sponsors take on responsibility, their own tasks and any projects and ideas that they can contribute themselves. Sponsorship is a special and intensive relationship with the forest and the natural area and requires a great deal of interest, attention, involvement and time. If you feel addressed and are really interested in getting involved, you are very welcome to contact us. In the project we will take the opportunity together to approach the living, through our relationship with the forest being as a whole. It is a learning process, a learning project with the intention and aspiration to meet our natural environment, internally and externally. We look forward to realizing the project and to people who want to experience this (learning) process with us.