“Permaculture” is the technical term for the principles according to which Daniela and Alfons Kaufmann run Hipphof in the municipality of Hittisau. These principles are: think long term instead of short term, optimise instead of maximise, cultivate variety instead of unity. “Vermin” do not exist in this world, and the same applies to “weeds”. Everything has its place, every plant and every animal has a role to play.
The chickens and ducks, for example, that roam freely keep the grass trim and breed. The bushes and hedges in front of the house grow in peace, but are not there by chance. Thanks to them, the bees can find everything that they need. “If everyone were to cultivate in this way, we would not need to feed bees any more,” says Kaufmann.
The Kaufmanns believe that a number of erroneous developments could be corrected if nature were allowed to take its course. “The forest has the best utilisation of energy; there is no need to supplement it with synthetic manure. He is speaking about studies whereby enzymes in a forest that is under threat from bark beetles transfer chemical “messages” through the soil to the trees, allowing for them to build up a level of protection. “Nature is far more refi ned than technology,” says the farmer who also works as a self-employed assembly technician for industrial and hay crane systems, as well as being a certifi ed photovoltaic technician. He has installed a photovoltaic system in the shingle roof of Hipphof which creates fi ve times more energy than the family requires. But this form of agriculture will not make you rich. However, the family measures wealth by a different yardstick. “We live well, and have healthy food and plenty of exercise,” says Daniela Kaufmann. “We also lose track of time when working, before coming to rest.”