The past weeks were basically filled with waiting. Waiting for the documents to be proved, appointments to be made and contracts to be signed. To prevent the bureaucratic back and forth spoil our anticipation for our settlers house we made a lot of plans, pored over books about gardening, looked for suiting furniture and at least once dreamed of how it will be, until a few days ago we finally had the keys in hands. Now, exciting weeks and months lay ahead. To realize all the ideas and dreams we had will be pretty tough and sometimes even impossible. We noticed pretty fast this house has its own character. However, we want to embark on it, discover the house’s character and work with it and thus, changing as little as possible but enough to transform it into a cosy home. More soon!

A big project will be to lay out a garden on our property. Since the garden year 2018 is ready to start we already have itchy fingers. Still, we are afraid we may have too high expectations of ourselves. Even if we learned a lot the past years on growing vegetables, we are still rookies. So we may hope for some beginner’s luck.

We won’t approach this project without a plan, of course. We set the goal to cultivate our land as permaculture (permanent agriculture) and to establish a sustainable circular economy, which regulates itself with its own rhythm and to enable diverse living beings to live together. This way, a food cycle can be established in which every animal meets its natural predators, thus contributing to a healthy garden. We want to create spaces for all the little helpers. Hedgehogs, bees, earthworms, birds, butterflies, and even spiders will be welcome in our garden.

Permaculture basically means for us to observe and find into nature. To understand nature to the fullest probably lays outside the boundaries of human intellect, but this should not prohibit us to live in harmony with her. Humans love to change the processes of nature to optimize them and to produce even more. But nature is perfect already. Graham Bell wrote in his book The Permaculture Garden: “Ecological damages are usually the result of human interference.

Thus, to interfere as less as possible with nature is the best method if you want to do something for the environment.”

Of course, we inherently interfere with nature as soon as we plan directed growing of fruits and vegetables – it is called permanent agriculture, not permanent agrinature. Still, we can do this in a way in which we contribute to a nutritious soil by using intercropping.

So far, so good. The big task now is to analyse our property, to observe, to decide where the best place is for which plant, and which plant benefit from each other so we can draw on a lush garden in summer. Out of curiosity we took some samples from the soil to measure the ph value on different spots of our property. We also already found some plants and wild herbs which let us guess the values. All this we want to include in our planning. The light and shadow conditions especially have an impact, but also the structures which are already there and which we can use to our advantage. The southern house front reflects the sun, thus projecting more warmth. Here, we want to have sun loving plants. Also, we can use the bricks of the rather useless stonewall as a heat accumulator somewhere else. An already planted hedge can be used as windbreak and to give shade. All this slowly forms a picture and we get a feeling for our property.

Now, we ponder which fruits and vegetables we just have to grow. Since we could not collect as much seeds from our balcony as we need we use old breed seeds from Manufactum and especially the seeds from Dreschflegel. Grete is one of the producers. By the way, her farm, which we visited last year several times, is only 5km from our house. Her seeds are perfectly adapted to the local conditions. After everything is examined, sorted and assigned, we can start growing the first plants.

And if everything goes awry, moles and snails eat all our harvest, or something else we can’t imagine yet just goes wrong, we already know that Grete’s delicious vegetables are growing just around the corner. We definitively won’t starve…

Today, we do not only start a new category on our blog, but open a whole new chapter of our life.

As much we enjoy the advantages of living in a great city, our wish to live a primal and conscious life in close touch with nature grew stronger the last years. We leave Berlin again and again, with increased regularity. Even if we tried to fulfil this wish partly in the city, for example with a opulently planted balcony, it can of course never be the same as nature itself.

The consequence is a safe haven, far away from all the fuzz: a settler house in Mecklenburg. Built 1948, surrounded by fields, it stands with a barn on a larger than 3000m² piece of land, on which cherry, apple, plum and peach trees grow, and which waits to be cultivated by us. Since country life is not always as romantic as one might imagine now and then, but has a work-intensive daily routine, we are curious how this will change us.

All we know is that every time we’ve been into nature before for a few weeks, we found ourselves a bit more. How grounding ordinary things as chopping wood and making fire can be.

Man always strives for something higher, for new challenges, wants to achieve something to give meaning to his live and forgets to cherish the simplicity.

Is the meaning of life not to just live? Here and now. Do we really have to leave our mark on the world? Don’t we chase an idée fixe which blinds us for the important things in life?

Masanobu Fukuoka writes in his book The road back to nature: “In the same extent man detaches himself from nature, he detaches from his centre.” We want to find back to this centre. We want to appreciate the music of nature, the swish of leaves, the rushing of the wind. Feel earth beneath our fingers out of which fruits and vegetables grow.

How often did we rack our brains what a seasonal and regional diet actually means to us. Most important has always been to be close to nature again by cooking along the seasons. To support this from our own garden has been a big dream of ours. The planting of our balcony alone changed our appreciation for food. The grasp of the effort, work and especially the necessary knowledge to grow a nutritious fruit out of a seed. All of this was on our minds for a long time and will have its own place on our blog from now on. We want to tell you from our daily life in our garden and share our thoughts and experiences about our settler house with you. We hope you like to join us on our adventure.

We’ve been to Mecklenburg quite often this year. It’s not the tranquility or relaxing which constitutes the beauty of it, but the companionship we experience there. In Rensow, you are not alone in nowhere. All around gather people who enrich this freckle of earth between the Mecklenburg Lakeland and Baltic Sea coast with their ideas.

Everybody helps everybody, often you sit together with a glass of wine and ponder new projects. We are incredibly inspired everytime again. That’s why we hit the road immediately after Knut suggested that we could cook a Christmas Dinner at the Manor in Rensow.

It is routine for Knut and Christina since they cook for 20 to 30 guest every Wednesday, and we were there, too, to swing the cooking spoon. Suitable for the manor, there is always a roast meat along a large variety of vegetables and salads, which is the core of the table and which is cut by the host or a special guest. As vegetarians, this was not quite our tradition and so we welcomed Knut’s idea to transform it into a vegetarian dish. His idea was a filled savoy cabbage. Together we thought about how to fill and prepare it. Grated vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts…there were so many possibilities! With what the cabbage was filled in the end we show you in our recipe here. However, we did not only want to create this centerpiece, but also a delicious side dish.

Just the traditional three components menu with a main dish, supplement and sauce. Suiting not only the manor but also Christmas we wanted to serve a potato roll filled with mushrooms and a strong port gravy.

The ideas were ready; so far, so good. If the gas tank had not been drained to the last drop and thus not only the heating cold, but the gas stove. So we cooked on single hot plates spread in three rooms in the spacious manor. In one of the holiday apartments on the first floor the swam in boiling water, in another small kitchen the cabbages sweat in the oven, and to put every heat source to perfect use we also had pots on the wood fired ovens. In other ways as well there were odds and ends to take care of. To get everything on the table warm was quite a challenge, and this is what we love so much about our trips to the countryside. There is always something to learn, you are challenged and grow with your tasks.  When finally all sit around the table, warmly illuminated by candles, and every digs into their food we are happy.

At home we cooked this dish again, this time under normal conditions and wrote the recipes down. It is a perfect main course for Christmas, yet the single components can also be arranged with other dishes as well to prepare a varied buffet for a festive table.

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