It’s the end of May already and finally, everything in our garden comes together. Since our last report a lot happened. The patches are all encircled and ready for planting. While preparing we encountered a few surprises which cost us hours, ah, days of work. Not to mention our nerves. But we want to spare you from the horrific details and us from the memories. It is way nicer to talk about the most plants being planted and growing great. Diverse herbs, fennel, radishes and spinach were already harvested galore. Peas are twining up the climbing support, and bit by bit the late vegetable kinds are planted. This year, we have over 150 different varieties. 12 different kinds tomatoes alone, and 8 varieties of potatoes. We especially stressed on rare heirloom vegetables. Ideally, the seeds are regional. This way, the plants are adapted perfectly for the climate in Mecklenburg. 

Beside the many kinds of vegetables, we also planted a lot of edible perennials on over 40m² around our green house. The count 360 plants, including varieties like adder’s wort, daylilly, echinacea, lavender, anis hyssop, mallow, bluebell, lady’s mantle, sweet cicely, common violet, horned pansy, just to name a few. The perennials are well-matched so we have edible flowers, petals and seeds all year round. With their different leaves and heights the plants not only add to a beautiful scenery, they also go well with their neighbours. They will be a great addition to our cuisine, but also have an effect on our garden. The perennials won’t be planned and planted new every year, unlike our vegetable patches, but are planned for years, thus showing their splendour every year again. The shifted and thus long blooming time will not only bring us joy, but also to the many wild bees we see here again and again. In Germany, there are over 500 different types of wild bees. Crazy, right? However, as you might know, a lot of them are endangered or even at the brink of extinction already. This is mainly due to the specific plants the bees specialised on to feed. Most bees are also specialised on their nesting place and need special building material and other details, which disappear more and more. 

Instead of biodiversity the bees only find monocultures. We can see the beauty in the rich yellow rape fields. However, this is barely nature, actually, they even add to the environmental destruction. Don’t even get us started on gen technology, chemical fertilizers and pesticides. In our little cosmos, we want to do things differently. We want to see ourselves what it means to enrich nature with our possibilities instead of just exploiting it. Sometimes, that’s not easy. Especially, since we need to gather experience and knowledge to act and live sustainable. 

Maybe you remember our first thoughts, over a year ago, concerning our kitchen garden. We had the idea, inspired by books on permaculture, to give every plant the perfect spot on our 3.000m² and create little habitats in which flora and fauna could grow in accordance with and enrich each other. However, already last year we decided on a more classic cottage garden. Clear geometrical structures not only help us with the cultivation but also with the care for and harvest of our vegetables. Of course, we did not tally the idea of permaculture completely. We actually see it more as a philosophy rather than a concrete way of gardening. We want to follow the core idea of this philosophy: with nature, not against it. In a close-to-nature cottage garden a lot of permacultural aspects are important, anyway. Natural cycles can also have structured forms. For us, a deliberate crop rotation and intercropping are part of it as well as a thick layer of mulch made of grass on the patches, the preparing of natural resources as muck, broths, and teas. This just as a quick note, since we wrote about that somewhen else already. 

Working with nature also means to provide space for useful creatures. Before we finally find the time to rest in a hammock in our garden, we probably build another house for wild bees, pile stones and wood for hedgehogs, insects, small reptiles and amphibians. Maybe it’s just a drop in the bucket. We can’t stop the drastic changes of our world. But maybe we can inspire one or another to act like us and to discover the fascination for nature’s routines.

Photography is our language, we have written about that quite often. To share thoughts, emotions and memories through photos is way easier for us than finding the perfect words. Even allegedly mundane things like writing postcards can drive us into desperation. Already as a child I (Susann) never had an idea how to write about my experiences in a short way to the loved ones at home. I sat there for minutes, pen in the air, just to only write “it is nice, I am fine”. The perfect scenery on the postcards, which rarely fit to what I saw, added to the impersonal note. Somewhen I just gave up and did not write postcards for years. A shame, actually, since postcards are just a way to let the loved ones know you even think about them from far away. 

With the instax instant photos I finally found the joy of sending postal holiday greetings. They provide the opportunity to send very personal experiences without big words. Plus, it is way faster than looking for the cheesiest card in the tourist shop.

With the FUJIFILM instax SHARE SP-3 printer* we can print our favourite vacation photos anytime, be they taken with the smartphone or with our FUJIFILM X-T3 camera. The printer has a rechargeable battery, thus being able to print anywhere. Just connect your smartphone or camera with the printer via WiFi, select your favourite photos with the instax SHARE app, and just a few seconds later you have the finished product. 

During a short trip to the sea we immediately tried the idea. We prepared the postcards at home. We cut thick kraft or water colour paper to A6 format, drew the template of a postcard on one side and put four pieces of double sided tape on the other, of the size of the instax instant photos. This way, we only needed the printer, a pen and stamps. You can even fill in the addresses beforehand. Just print the instant picture, put a stamp on it and off you go!

It’s been about one year and a half since our last Rustic & Raw workshop, until in the middle of April six new participants hot the road to Mecklenburg. For us, it is an incredible feeling every time again to see how people from Germany, Switzerland and Austria want to be part of this adventure. Our Rustic & Raw workshop is exactly this every time: a little adventure. It is so much more than just a photography and food styling workshop. The four days are intensive, inspiring, personal, and they live off the fact that everyone moves a bit outside their comfort zone.

For us, to host a workshop again after such a long time was special for another reason as well. It was the first one in our own house. The participants were accommodated in Christina’s and Knut’s “Alte Schule” again, but they spent most of the time at our house. How beautiful to share the magic we experience everyday with other people! Within our own four walls, which we also call our living studio, the participants could get a good feeling for how we work. Under which conditions, with which techniques, how our fund of undergrounds and utensils looks like. This way, we could show under real conditions that with day light and few accessories you can shoot beautiful food photos in every room of the house. 

Apart from a few theoretic lessons about documentary photography, photo technics, working with daylight, and food styling, we love to give lots of time and room for creativity: cooking together, having a fling on photo shooting or just getting lost in deep conversations. The participants always create an own dynamic, making every workshop unique.

To host the workshop in a week at the beginning of spring was a bit unpleasant concerning the weather, which invited us all to our ovens. Yannic, of course, insisted on cooking over open fire outside. He cooked black bean burger with coleslaw, spicy ketchup and smoked onions. To make sure we did not freeze our asses off, we emptied our green house, decorated it with candles and blooming twigs, and marveled at the sunset. What a special evening!

It is always a wonderful feeling to connect people with our two favourite topics, photography and cooking. Even if it is only for four days we spend together, saying goodbye is always hard. It might sound cheesy, but we do not only farewell participants, but people we have closed in our hearts. Thank you, Lisa, Caro, Deniz, Juliane, Angela and Barbara, for joining us. And  a huge thank you to you, Lisa, not only for your help and support, but also for enriching our group!

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