Photo: Jan Riephoff
A heart for cheese
Andreas Degener from Klostergut Heiningen near Wolfenbüttel
He saved the family farm and converted it to a Demeter-based operation. Andreas Degener cares for his cattle and makes their milk into exquisite cheese.
The sheer dimensions of the undertaking must have made his head spin at times. Andreas was in his early twenties when he began fighting for the Klostergut Heiningen estate near the German town of Wolfenbüttel. This was where he was raised. The farm and land belonged to his family for two hundred years. But his father had not managed the property well. A bank advisor told him to sell the property "It's too much for you!" But Degener refused to give up his home. That was in 1982.
Fast forward to today. The 56-year-old is sitting at his kitchen table in a wool ski sweater. He laughs as he shakes and pours the milk from one of his cows. He was forced to sell the estate back then, but he kept the farm. Mooing can be heard outside. It's his Harzer Rotvieh, an old cattle breed, whose toughness suits the farmer's personality. Andreas watches the calves through the window, their coats gleaming a reddish brown through the bushes.