NRW: There is another way!
These names alone make you feel a little nostalgic: Weißer Winterglockenapfel, Gascoynes Scharlachroter, Goldrenette aus Bienheim, Grüner Stettiner. The Biological Station in the Rhein-Sieg district has set up 235 baskets in six stages. There are fragrant, deep red apples, others are pale red, yellow or with almost brownish skin. Each basket contains a different variety - and most of them are hardly known to anyone.
"We only find a fraction of the varieties that are still available in the supermarket," says Barbara Boillon, the station's deputy manager, leading the way to two varieties of Golden Delicious, one of the best-selling apples in Germany. The fruits in one basket are large, plump and crunchy. In the other, they are small and speckled with black-brown spots. "This is what Golden Delicious look like when they are not sprayed," explains Barbara Bouillon.
Old apple varieties against current problems
From the producers' point of view, the Golden Delicious is actually the perfect apple. The trees bear regularly and do not grow too tall, the apple itself has a very good flavour and a long stem - short-stemmed varieties are more likely to fall off the tree. However, it is susceptible to the fungal disease apple scab, which makes the fruit blotchy and the skin brittle. The fruit is still edible, but cannot be sold. So they are sprayed.
Plant diseases and climate change - in fruit growing, too, producers and growers must constantly adapt to new challenges. For example, new varieties that were thought to be immune to fruit scab now turn out after 15 or 20 years that the fungi have adapted and can still attack the trees. This is why Barbara Bouillon and her colleagues are trying to preserve old fruit varieties, because their different characteristics are needed for cross-breeding.
New paths in agriculture
North Rhine-Westphalia is represented by numerous initiatives that go beyond the mainstream in agriculture. The Mutterkuh NRW association, for example, brings together livestock farmers who leave their calves with the mother cow for eight months instead of separating them from her immediately after birth. The cooperative project Die faire Milch guarantees family farms fair producer prices, while laying hen farms have joined forces in the mein-ei.nrw association for joint regional marketing.
Excellent wines and beer from private breweries
In general, NRW tends to provide a stage for small, family-run businesses: the Sprenker farm, for example, which grows edamame (soya beans), then dries them or processes them into snack cream. Or the award-winning Pieper winery and the Barre private brewery, which is now in its sixth generation of family ownership in the East Westphalian town of Lübbecke. A rarity in the beer industry, which is heavily dominated by large breweries.
NRW Minister President Hendrik Wüst was greeted at the Barre stand not by the company boss but by two young women - a sight that everyone can get used to, because: "The seventh generation will definitely be female," says Marketing Manager Mareike Materia. The company's daughter Clara Barre is currently studying in Berlin and will be helping out at the bar during the Green Week.
Maintaining tradition and embracing innovation - this has enabled the private brewery to hold its own in the market since 1842. It sells 30 per cent of its beer in kegs to the catering trade in the region. Every Friday, the brewery horses Alfred and Gustav are harnessed and the barrels are delivered by beer coach. Barre also offers training in bartending, and was one of the first to test non-alcoholic variants, draught sodas and Alster drinks. Mareike Materia says that one thing is always the most important aspect of all innovations: "high drinkability".