The harvesting of the open field beans at Gemüsehof Reinheimer in Ginsheim-Gustavsburg, Hesse, is currently in full swing. "We were able to harvest the first French beans four weeks ago, and about a week later our own first hand-picked broad beans arrived on the market," explains owner and greengrocer Kai Reinheimer. Despite Corona, he still sees market potential for the beans and other niches for open field cultivation.
The passionate market gardener sells his outdoor products through a total of four sales channels; retail and wholesale, weekly markets and his own farm shop. "Unfortunately, wholesale bean marketing is currently a bit sluggish due to the slump in the catering trade." In general, however, the broad bean in particular is still a real eye-catcher on the menus of regional restaurateurs, says Reinheimer. He is cultivating the bean species on approx. 0.5 hectares of open land. "We have been cultivating the broad bean in the open field for some six years now and have noticed a growing demand in the regional gastronomy. The bean keeps well and is a unique regional product."
The Saubohne: Classic niche crop from Hessian production.
Covering niches through open field cultivation
In addition to the broad bean, Gemüsehof Reinheimer also cultivates the better known French bean on approx. 1.5 hectares. It is a crop that is produced in this country primarily for the processing industry and less so for the fresh market. "We pick this bean by hand. The harvest is usually three months in spring and two in summer. Many industrial plants have shut down their production due to the loss of the catering sector, so there's less supply available." The current consumer price is fluctuating at around 5.90 a kilo, but by the middle of summer it should settle at 3.90.
Gemüsehof Reinheimer has set itself the goal of serving the regional trade with selected open field products. "We don't need mass-produced goods, but we want to cover the niches in outdoor cultivation. Although the operation is very costly, the great advantage is that we can influence the market. Because of the lack of competitors and the corresponding price pressures, we are really the one who determines the prices in the market," says Reinheimer.
Left: French beans from outdoor cultivation, Right: Outdoor tomatoes are marketed both at the weekly market and in our own farm shop as well as via regional wholesalers and retailers.
Open field tomatoes: 47 varieties under cultivation
The grower has seen that certain products are in great demand in times of Corona. "Crispy Salanova has been very much in demand. Our outdoor tomatoes are also very much in demand at the moment, because everyone stays at home - this certainly boosts sales".
At Gemüsehof Reinheimer, 47 tomato varieties now thrive on approx. 3 hectares. But outdoor cultivation is always good for a surprise, Reinheimer knows. "In 2018, we were able to sell our open field tomatoes into December. In 2019, the season ended quite early due to the wet autumn. This year we have the most modern drip irrigation and the crop looks very good."
Herbs are doing extremely well
The product range of the farm is rounded off by all kinds of open field herbs. The selection of herbs has been constantly expanded in recent years. "We planted mint and sage for the first time this year and they are already being harvested. All in all, we can see that this segment has grown extremely well in just a few years."