Monday, November 23, 2009

Biodynamic Farm and Farmstand in Appenzell Switzerland

If you are in Switzerland, a visit to the Appenzell canton of Northeast Switzerland, a region known for its beautiful farm land, progressive health laws, and rural traditions, is highly recommended. There are countless farms and fabulous “Wanderweg” hiking trails throughout. A favorite farm and farm store is in Gais, but if you don't know it's there, you wouldn't be likely to find it.

From the city of St. Gallen, you take the Appenzeller Bahnen, a small, red train which, as its name implies, travels through the Appenzell canton with trains running about every 30 minutes. Take this train for about half an hour to the town of Gais. (If you are in Teufen, Gais is about half-way to Appenzell on the train.) Once off the train, you will walk about 1 mile. Cross Schulhausstrasse and walk along Zung St., then cross Stossstrasse and slightly to the right of where you have been walking will be Kehr St. Walk on Kehr for about one-quarter to one-third of a mile and take a right onto Bommes Road – looks more like a driveway - within 20 yards or so you will walk into the yard of the Biodynamic Hofladen Farm where there is a little farm store. Biodynamic Hofladen Farm, Bommes 3, Gais, Tel: 71 793 37 85;

The store’s entry-way has fresh organic produce delivered on Fridays. Further inside you will find a mini-health food store with organic and free-trade food and treats, including farm fresh, biodynamic dairy products from the Hofladen Farm. There is nothing quite like farm fresh yogurt in a glass container – seems from a lost world - perfect and delicious (my apologies to non-dairy eaters.) Fresh, organic spelt bread, made from spelt grown a few towns over (a bakery that makes their own spelt pasta, pastries, and bread - directions on their Web site), is delivered Tuesday, Fridays and Saturdays. On those days the Hofladen store is open from 9:00 to 11:30 am and then again from 3:00 to 7:00pm. Every other day it is open from just 6:00 to 7:00pm.

Not much English is spoken, but everything seems to get across just fine. Two tips: In Switzerland (and many other places in Europe), when buying fresh produce you are responsible for weighing and pricing it. There is a number by the name of the item – e.g. Red Cabbage #62 – take your red cabbage over to the scale (somewhere in the produce area) and weigh it – you will need to punch in that number. A sticker will spit out with the weight and price that you apply to the bag or item. In lower-tech establishments, you may have to write it on the bag.

Also, remember to bring your own bags – many stores either do not have bags or charge for them, and often they are flimsy – so just get used to having a stash of canvas bags rolled up in your daypack.

The farm belongs to the Langenegger family. The grandmother, Lilly Langenegger, is a local famous artist who writes children’s books with beautiful illustrations of traditional Swiss rural images and Appenzeller farm life. The books are available in German, English and French. Pictures and purchasing information are available at the publisher Web site (in German, but translatable).

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