The 58th Autumn Conference of German Vegetable Growers ended with a closing event at Gärtnerei Böck & Co. in Neufarn. Managing Director Wilhelm Böck and Managing Director Johanna Wolff invited guests to enjoy food and drink as well as a tour of the company. The Böck family business, now managed by a fifth generation, was founded in 1896 by Wilhelm Böck's great-grandfather.
"My father was far-sighted early on and gave up the previous location and acquired this plot of land in 1968, on which 1.7 hectares of greenhouses were still being cultivated at the time. We now have 10 hectares under glass. In addition, we have between 70 and 80 hectares of open land at our disposal. We produce 40 to 45 vegetable crops throughout the year," Böck explains.
Three generations of the Böck family.
Diverse lines of business
"The business is divided into three main areas: One is vegetable growing as such, secondly we are dedicated to young vegetable plants for hobby and allotment gardeners. Thirdly, we also grow organic potted herbs, although this part of the business has been reduced due to costs."
Böck runs the family and training business together with his daughter Johanna and his son Florian, as well as other family members. During the young plant season, the company employs 120 to 130 people. "60 percent of our production is sold via the Munich wholesale market. We generate the other 40 percent through food retailers, weekly markets, and other customers. We have also been operating an online store for four to five years, with increasing success. This line of business has developed successfully due to Covid. We now have five to six employees working in this area."
Johanna Wolff (pictured above) guides the attendees through the wash hall, among other things. "This is the area where everything comes together. The produce from the field and the produce from the greenhouse is washed here, processed, and packed according to customer requirements. Our truck drivers, who will supply the wholesale market, arrive here at night, load the goods themselves, and then drive them to the wholesale market. Our customers can order goods until midday, receiving them the same day," says Wolff.
"It has become clear that the truck drivers want to start as early as possible because nobody wants to drive around Munich in a truck at 8 o'clock. The problem is not the traffic in general, but the cyclists in particular. Big cities really are an adventure."
A delivery van from the online store "Gemüse-bestellen.de," which is managed by Florian Böck.
The young plants are specifically intended for end customers, such as garden centers, and are marketed throughout Germany and parts of Austria. "We also have a lot of customers who collect the goods themselves. What has become established with us is that we offer the goods in trays of 6. The trend has also shifted towards offering 13 to 14 different lettuce mixes, including mixes of lollo rosso, lollo bionda, oak leaf green and red, rocket, and kohlrabi. Unfortunately, the typical hobby gardener clientele is dying off. It is often younger mothers who will buy just 3 tomatoes instead of 20. Although they buy fewer overall, they are already filling up their balcony boxes and are perfectly happy with three kohlrabi and some rocket or similar."
When it comes to work, Folien relies on manual labor. "In general, we have a large rotation of crops. We are a very versatile farm. But the problem is that it's also very labor-intensive. We still harvest the lamb's lettuce by hand, with each box containing around 1 kg of produce. For me personally, lamb's lettuce is a difficult crop, especially in the fall when there is still a lot of open field produce, and the product then sells for between €2.00 and 3.00 per kg on the market. This year, the price level is within a good range." Demand for ginger has also developed nicely in recent years. "We also grow turnips and a variety of pak choi. These are not crops that we can sell in large quantities, but the demand is constant."
Closing event with food and drinks.
The company offers lettuces such as Lollo Bionda and oak leaf green under glass all year round. "At the start of the fall season, we also sell Lollo Rosso, red "Burgundy" lettuce, and red oak leaf. At the start of September, the crops are still quite large and full-bodied. In the dark winter months, however, the latter varieties do not do too well. However, lettuce, Lollo Bionda and oak leaf green show consistent quality."
A selection of the goods produced by Böck.