Sustainable carrots instead of cannons
In Hall in Tirol, five organic farmers have joined forces and bought the abandoned Straub barracks at auction. Since 2017, the largest vegetable logistics in Western Austria has been established on the site.
Nothing special? Well, of course it is! The 9-hectare ‘Gemüseland’ functions like a smart city: with its own photovoltaics, cooling by groundwater, heating by residual heat, state-of-the-art IT technology and a rapeseed oil filling station. The best thing about it? Sustainability works in the environment and in the farmers’ coffers.
A tour of the Gemüseland in Hall allows the visitor to be amazed at every turn. The former barracks have been transformed into a business world of their own. Tons of Tyrolean vegetables are sorted, cleaned and packed here. There are five farmers behind Gemüseland who made a choice a few years ago: each build their own farm with its own infrastructure or all together develop a sustainable project that can become a showcase. In 2017, the Gemüseland went into full operation. Today, everyone agrees: the courage has paid off.
Choosing regionality and resource protection
Together with Managing Director Christian Braito, we are standing in front of the impressive photovoltaic system that makes the Gemüseland an energy self-sufficient world. 2000 megawatt-hours come together here. For comparison: that corresponds to the energy needs of 550 single-family homes per year. And this energy is used as efficiently as possible at many other points. One example: the cold stores are operated with groundwater cooling. ‘That saves 30 per cent electricity,’ explains Christian Braito proudly, ‘and we also avoid any noise.‘ After cooling, the residual heat from the groundwater is used to generate hot water in the 350 employee accommodation units. ‘Working regionally and conserving resources was important to us from the very beginning,’ says Christian Braito. That’s why the groundwater is infiltrated over a large area and almost all of it is returned to the ground at a temperature-neutral 12 to 14 degrees.
Managing naturally in all areas
But the ‘Smart City Concept’ of the Gemüseland goes even further. More than 100 vehicles are filled at the company’s own rapeseed oil filling station. In this way, CO2 pollution can be reduced by half. Traffic avoidance is a big issue: ‘The five farmers trade intensively with each other, and on the common area this can be done with short forklift journeys instead of with a lorry from farm to farm,‘ explains Christian Braito. Shared facilities such as a huge carrot sorting line, packaging units and sophisticated IT – all this saves resources and contributes to the sustainable success of the project.
Of course, it took a lot of coordination to organise the cooperation of the five large organic farmers. ‘But we were all aware that here in Tirol we want to work close to nature and preserve resources. This is obvious because we produce natural products and therefore every single producer has a special relationship to nature and the Tyrolean habitat‘, Braito continues. When one wanders over the grounds of Gemüseland, one involuntarily thinks of how much the photovoltaics, the groundwater wells, etc. cost. But managing director Braito dispels such thoughts: ‘Our experience shows that we have long been on the road to economic success thanks to this sustainable approach. We avoid so much traffic and energy consumption through logistics in one place that the investments are worthwhile for each individual business. By the way, we can also maintain the highest hygiene standards – a huge issue especially in the last few weeks.‘ Despite the joint management, each of the five farmers produces according to his own ideas and also markets himself – this ensures independence and shows that individuality and meaningful cooperation do not have to be mutually exclusive.
A model to follow
Such a large association of five resource-intensive companies is ideal to serve as a model for others. The logistical, energy and financial advantages are convincing. ‘However,’ Christian Braito knows from experience, ‘you need a certain size to be able to use such advantages economically. Creating something together is not always easy. But the perseverance and willingness to compromise of the individual companies pays off in the end‘.
Gemüseland Tirol is a member of the Green Filming Tirol database Marketplace Tirol. There you will find products and services from regional and sustainable Tyrolean companies that can be useful for your film production.
Moreover, Gemüseland Tirol is a Tyrolean success story. Lebensraum Tirol Holding, in cooperation with its subsidiaries (Tirol Tourist Board, Standortagentur Tirol and Agrarmarketing Tirol), brings special companies, projects, initiatives and people before the curtain. What they all have in common is that they play a pioneering role and act as role models for sustainability and responsible business. They contribute to the sustainability of the Tyrolean economy, society and environment and encourage the dissemination of sustainable change concepts. You can find more success stories here (in German only).