The House of Light
As some of you may know, the Menig nursery in Bad Wurzach has shut down after many years. The entire site is to be cleared by March 2024, including of course the four glass houses and a tunnel greenhouse. Everything that remains there after March will go to the junkyard. And that would be a shame! Because the houses are made of high quality materials, including safety glass roofs and insulated glass walls, and are also well-equipped with computer controlled heating and ventilation systems, and have been very well maintained.
When all this became known to the Helenenhof team, we decided to "rescue" one of the glass houses (21m x 11m x 5m) by replanting it in Rempertshofen to give it a new life. We are really looking forward to the new possibilities to expand our now 7-year-old cultivation into a new climate zone. Our project at Helenenhof places great emphasis on helping this region to develop a diverse, self-sufficient farming and food culture.
What's happening at Helenenhof?
It is not unknown that far too much of our regional fruit and vegetable needs are transported from far away. And every year more and more scandals are exposed from all over the world, including Europe, and even in the organic sector, revealing that the desire to lower production costs and expand profits in a competitive agricultural world-market often leads to forced labour and slave-type conditions for agricultural workers that violates basic human rights.
We are firmly convinced that regional food does not have to come at the expense of either the well-being of people, plants, animals, soils and environment. At the same time, neither must we sacrifice the wonderful and colorful diversity of our food-culture - on the contrary, we can actually even step it up a notch! All it takes is a little innovative creativity and dedication.
And to do our part in making a step in that direction, all we need is a little help from our friends! The dismantling has already been going on for weeks, and is nearly finished, thanks to the sweaty, clever and hard-working support of an amazing and motivated team of AUI members and friends:
Big thanks to Markus, Andreas, Bernhardt, Lauch, Uli, Jörg and Florian!
The house itself is being generously donated by the Menig family. Without that first move of generosity, none of this would be happening!
Sven Lippert and his team at SL Bauelemente from Bad Wurzach has also generously donated time, work hours, equipment and professional consultation in regards to removing, transporting and later re-installing the hundreds of sheets of glass.
We are also grateful to be receiving professional advice and services from experienced builder Walter Katranitz from Wolfegg, surveying technician Andreas Drews from Isny, structural engineer Daniel Puttkammer from Kisslegg, and Engineer Erich Molitor from Lindau.
An aerial photograph showing the approximate location of the future tropical paradise of Rempertshofen.
We’ve come a long way already, but the process of building it back up again at Helenenhof is going to be an even bigger task than the dismantling has been, and is going to require not only human power, but also financial power.
The heat for the glass house will be provided by a compost heating system, also known as "Biomailer", in which the warmth created by composting woodchips heats the water that circulates through the heating pipes. But we need water tanks, pipes, pumps, and more to get this system built up and running.
And although the ventilation system is in excellent working condition, many of the electrical components, like the climate computer, fusebox and cables, are either too old, no longer permitted or both.
And, of course, the water and electricity will have to be hooked up to the greenhouse in order for any of this to work.
So we are looking for sponsors and donors to help cover the following costs, in chronological/procedural order:
The warmth in combination with the size of the house offers us the opportunity to cultivate plants (including adult trees!) that normally come from subtropical and tropical regions. Including:
Fruiting vines and other perennial plants such as dragon fruit, passion fruit, melons and pineapple;
Bushes and trees like banana, papaya, pomegranate, litchi, mango, avocado, citrus, cacao, coffee and tea;
Roots like yams, turmeric, ginger and taro;
Healing plants like aloe, galangal and ylang ylang,
Spices like cinnamon, cardamom and peppercorn
Additionally, in order to produce seeds from certain plants that are commonly cultivated in this region require either a longer frost-free time in order to have the opportunity to ripen their seeds (for example carrots and beets), or they require a certain amount of isolation to avoid cross-pollination (like the cabbage and pumpkin families). The glass house will provide these conditions required, allowing us to expand the scope of our seed reproduction and breeding activities at Helenenhof.
We are honored to have the opportunity to transform the Menig family's hard case of fate into something juicier and fruitier. You are also cordially invited to come and harvest when the time comes!
We are ecstatic to report that our goal has been not only reached, but exceeded!
Our recent activities in Taiwan included introducing the Helenenhof project and, subsequently, this Glasshouse fundraiser to many different groups and individuals throughout our nearly 4-week travels all around the island. We were consistently met with overwhelming hospitality and generosity, and the donations that came from the people of Taiwan, combined with those that had already flowed in from our German friends, along with some from America and Australia, gave this fundraising campaign a boost that sent us to the moon!
You can still visit the GoFundMe campaign page to read more about our time in Taiwan and to keep up on updates:
We've still got other projects and campaigns in the works (for example, we are still looking for "god-parents" for our new garden-colleague, Luisa), so we're always happy and grateful for your support.
You might also consider becoming a supporting AUI member to give us sustained support.
Last updated: 8 February, 2024