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Naturland mourns Hans Hohenester

Organic agriculture was his job and his calling. For 26 years Hans Hohenester has been an organic farmer and member of Naturland, and he helped shape Naturland in numerous functions; as President of the Board amongst others. He also contributed significantly to the development of organic farming, especially in Bavaria. After a serious illness, Hans Hohenester died at the age of 59 on Sunday 8 January 2017.

Photo: Naturland

Dr. Felix Prinz zu Löwenstein, paid tribute to Hans Hohenester as an outstanding leader in organic farming. Dr. Felix Prinz zu Löwenstein is the Chairman of the Federation of Ecological Food Industries (BÖLW) and member of the Board for Naturland and worked for 16 years together with Hans Hohenester.“

“As a farmer, he has embodied authenticity and credibility to the highest degree, stated Löwenstein. "Hans Hohenester was a futurist who thought ahead and inspired people for organic farming. With his enthusiasm and his long-term vision, he shaped Naturland and repeatedly confronted us with the need for change,” stated Steffen Reese, Naturland Managing Director. “With the death of Hans we lose a lot, but a part of him will always stay with us,” he added.

From Catholic Farmers Youth to organic agriculture
The politics and practice of the organic agriculture were always closely connected for Hans Hohenester. In the seventies, during his education, he became involved in the Catholic Farmers Youth (KLJB), and he was the president of the Bavarian Catholic Farmers Youth from 1986 until 1990. These were turbulent times and the KLJB passionately advocated changes in the conventional agriculture. The motivation for organic agriculture partly tied in with their vision of stewardship of God’s creation. It shows the character of Hans Hohenester that the political commitment to this cause naturally resulted in changes on his own farm. In 1991 he transitioned, together with his wife, the farm he inherited from his parents to organic agriculture according to the Naturland standards. And with that success, today the farm consists of 120 hectares and grows not only potatoes and cereals but also feed for their own pigs.  

Chairman of the LVÖ for 10 years with clear influence on organic agriculture in Bavaria
Simultaneously with his political engagement he developed a commitment to organic farming associations. In 1993 Hohenester became chairman of Naturland Bavaria and in 1994 he also became chairman of the newly formed National Association for Organic Agriculture (LVÖ). He contributed greatly in this role to the development of organic farming in Bavaria until 2004. For instance, he played a role in the development of advice possibilities in Bavaria by founding organic producer groups. He successfully worked to establish an endowed chair of organic agriculture at the TU Munich in Weihenstephan. He furthermore advocated the expansion of organic research and specialist centers in Schönbrunn und Kringell. And the institution of the Organic Open Days in Bavaria, until this day the most important event for the promotion of organic farming in Bavaria – occurred during his time as chairman of the LVÖ as well. In 2004 Hans Hohenester was awarded the silver Bavarian Medal of State for his efforts. 

After his period as chairman for the LVÖ Hohenester was voted President of the Board of Naturland in 2005. He was re-elected three times, and every time with a clear majority.

During his presidency it was his goal to create a firm political base for Naturland in order to achieve the best results for organic farmers, while at the same time increase the Naturland presence in specialized organic food stores as well as regular supermarkets to ensure the market share of organic farmers. Projects such as “The face of organic”, a system for consumers to trace their food back to the farmers, support this goal. Naturland launched this project was together with the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in 2005. 

International responsibility and Naturland Fair
Although Hohenester was firmly rooted in his Bavarian native soil, he never forgot the importance of the international perspective and global responsibility associated with the production of food. He was convinced that organic agriculture can only function if farmers, all over the world, receive a fair price for their products. The introduction of the Naturland Fair certification in 2010 was a step in the right direction.

Remembrance service 
Hans Hohenester leaves his Maria and two adult children behind. His children Maria Lena and Johannes took care of the farm during his illness and they will continue to manage the farm. Peter Warlich will temporarily fulfill the role as president of the association until the elections in May.

An official memorial service will take place at the end of January or the beginning of February. The exact place and time will be published at the website of Naturland. On the website www.hans-hohenester.de there is a possibility to convey your condolences.

Source: Naturland

Publication date: 1/20/2017


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