A thing of possibility - an alternative living and working concept
Julia greets us with a warm hug upon arrival at the farm and we immediately feel welcome. Here in the team she is mainly responsible for looking after the guests and gives us a detailed and exciting tour of the entire site with the main building, barns and meadows. We can't stop being amazed at what has been created here in such a short time or is just about to be created. "A thing of possibility“ is the programmatic name for this special place, which is an alternative living and working project and sustainable guest accommodation at the same time. In the almost two years since eight adults and five children have moved here, this place has become something of a small institution in Wendland.
After a long search, the courageous pioneers from Hamburg and Berlin found the perfect site for their ideas, founded a cooperative, managed the financing, and despite the pandemic and inflation, steadily expanded their dream together. Of course, this is a little different for each of the comrades-in-arms - but everyone wants to live together in a more sustainable, self-determined and creative way. They have given up well-paid jobs in agencies or as consultants and project managers in order to live and work together for a uniform basic salary. There is always enough to do here and lots of great ideas to realize as well. A half-timbered house with beautiful rooms for overnight stays, a large kitchen for cooking events, a sauna with a view of the countryside, a theater stage and rooms for yoga retreats and workshops already exist or are just being completed.
Happy coincidence and let off steam
The farm has not been used for agriculture for over forty years, but has been used as accommodation, seminar hotel and wedding location for the last twenty years. Fortunately, when the previous owner wanted to retire, he remembered the likeable couple who got married here and, together with some of the guests, were interested in this beautiful spot. The dream of creating such a place together had existed in the circle of friends for a long time, but unfortunately the right terrain was never found. But here everything was right immediately. And so they have been working as a cooperative on their “prototype for a better life” for two years and are learning new things every day. For example, how to organize large events, how a sewage treatment plant works, how many liters of coffee a seminar group of seventy people drink every day, or how to successfully promote cooking events.
And of course how to solve conflicts and problems as a community. In regular meetings, where everyone can really let off steam, common solutions are always sought and usually found. These processes and the challenges of living and working together are discussed with impressive openness. Of course, everyone contributes their experiences, ideas and the desire to do things differently than in previous jobs. This willingness to really tackle a project like this together is what drives the rapid transformation processes on the site.
The free Wendland
The "newcomers" got involved with the Wendland community right from the start and like to get advice from other pioneers, some of whom have lived here since the Gorleben protests against the planned nuclear waste repository in the XNUMXs and the demos against the Castor transports . The Wendland has had a special reputation nationwide since the protests and has attracted activists, artists and non-conformists for decades. But the experience of the original Wendlanders and the employees of the former owners also flow into the project. The “Republic Free Wendland” of the anti-nuclear initiative that was once founded no longer exists, but many alternative ways of life still exist today and continue to develop. As a result, there is a large market for sustainable food that is locally produced and distributed, benefiting not only the locals but also the visitors who continue to be drawn to this special region.
Historical monument and gilded holes
After the purchase of the property was decided and the financing was successful, the expansion began. In addition to the fast internet connection for working, the clear priority was to renovate the guest accommodation and to proceed as resource-efficiently as possible. The monument protection was a real challenge with the buildings, some of which were more than a hundred years old. The result is beautiful accommodation in various sizes, the style of which lies between the charm of a modern old building and a turn-of-the-century summer house. Old tiles, antique lamps, modern bathrooms and appealing colors are very tastefully and individually put together. The old key box and many pieces of furniture have been preserved and have been quickly restored with new paint or upholstery. In cooperation with designer friends, new pieces of furniture have been created that guests can also reorder.
Under the plaster in the entrance, wall paintings from the times before there were wallpapers were found during the renovation. Since holes were created when the old structures were knocked off, some gold paint was improvised and a kind of kintsugi work of art was made of it (traditional Japanese repair technique, which translates as "repair with gold"). The old paintings, the fresh gold paint and the newly created structures became something very unique. Almost a symbol for the entire courtyard - here old things are renovated, preserved, renewed and supplemented, so that a contemporary use and a special aesthetic come together. And it's also okay if something isn't perfect - the main thing is that it was created sustainably and organically. In addition to the guest house, there are two other, also renovated, construction trailers and, in summer, nicely furnished tipis with mattresses, carpets and fairy lights.
Innovation and warm feet
During our stay in the building on the left, people work until late at night. The so-called “InnovationsLAB” is to be opened here soon, with further seminar rooms, one coworking space and various other uses. Of course, for cost reasons, we try to do as much as possible ourselves. Filling clay and sanding wood is just as much a part of the day-to-day work as looking after guests, construction management and marketing. Since not everyone is equally good at everything, the team is divided into different working groups and each group is responsible for a specific area. Bigger decisions are of course made together, such as the installation of a modern and sustainable wood chip heating system, which was worthwhile in times of the energy crisis and provides the whole farm with pleasant warmth. The underfloor heating in the yoga room is particularly nice.
Korean snacks in Rundlingsdorf
In a so-called circular village – typical for the region – the plots of land are arranged in the shape of a piece of cake around a small central roundabout. Twenty-three people live in Salderatzen, where the farm is located. There is a well-stocked farm shop with regional vegetables and cheese, fair-trade coffee and organic wine. Cooking events also take place regularly in the recently completely renovated, professional canteen kitchen. Then there are Korean, Italian or other nice menus - mostly vegetarian and vegan, always organically grown and seasonally cooked.
The cultural outing
Every year in Wendland, between the Ascension Day and Pentecost, the very popular "Cultural Outing" takes place. Then you can discover art, culture and culinary delights in open studios, workshops and businesses as you please. At "Ein Ding der Hoffnung" there is above all good music, delicious food and exciting workshops on topics such as sustainable living and new ways of working. Interest was already huge in 2022 and there will be a great program again in 2023. But also space to recharge your batteries and let your soul dangle. There are swings, a trampoline, the sauna, a small bar in the former grain silo and plenty of seating in the middle of nature. Due to its central location between the major cities of Hamburg, Berlin and Hanover and the very good public transport and bicycle connections, the place can also be easily reached without a car.
Exit on trial
The latest project is called "Experiment Country Life" and will take place for the first time at the beginning of March - a kind of exit on trial or workation. For fourteen days you can try getting out without any risk and for a fair price or live the dream of working in the countryside. In addition, there will be some information events about living, excursions and work opportunities in Wendland. At lunchtime there is a meal for everyone who wants to network or just chat. And if new joint ideas then arise, this is the best place to realize them. Because it is incredibly contagious and inspiring to feel the positive energy of everyone involved and to see what you can achieve if you act cooperatively and leave your own comfort zone (Here you go directly to the experiment country life).
© Photos: A thing of possibility
I find it very interesting as a woodworker turner
Exciting, such a lively corner in the middle of Germany; how fruitful when historical heritage, non-conformism and a modern change mindset meet in space and breadth.
Written really well, I felt like I was there when I read it - great! And now I feel like visiting the farm 🙂
I used to be in Wendland quite often, also at the cultural days, and I am soooo curious and happy about the obviously successful way of life in salderatzen. Unfortunately I'm too old and disabled, otherwise I would visit you IMMEDIATELY. All the best to you!!!!!!
Mites van Oepen
Sounds like a wonderful place. I have to go there soon. Thanks for the informative text.
Simply always very informative and written with a lot of love for the respective project.
I'm always excited.