On March 28, the first local strawberries of the 'Sonsation' variety could already be harvested in the new 1.5-acre strawberry greenhouse of the Mann fruit farm in the Alte Land. Only a few months ago, just in time for the first planting date, a sustainable greenhouse could be put into operation. Owner Tobias Mann gave us a tour of the facilities on-site and told us about the new building, the sustainable horticultural technology, and the marketing of regional strawberries.
In recent years, he said, open-air strawberry cultivation had tended to lose importance because the growing method was too much of a 'gamble,' partly in the wake of climate change. "However, we have built up a very strong strawberry market over the years, especially in the early sector, which we were far from being able to supply with German produce at the trade level. Every year, we had to buy in produce from all over Germany, which also did not work smoothly due to the high in-house demand of the respective greenhouse operations. This is how the idea of producing our own greenhouse strawberries for the early market finally came about," says Mann, who looks back on a successful first wave of harvests.
Tobias Mann shows fresh strawberries from regional greenhouse cultivation. The soft fruit is marketed predominantly in 500-gram wood-cut trays under the also new private label GlüXBeere.
In Buxtehude, just outside Hamburg, crisp fresh greenhouse strawberries of the Sonsation (spring) and Malling Centenary (fall) varieties are growing and thriving this year. In addition to strawberry production in field and protected cultivation, the company is involved in the production of pome fruit (35 ha) and rooftop cherries (10 ha).
The Altländer Obsthof has a broad customer structure consisting of selected food retail stores, wholesale customers, and a direct marketing branch. "The demand for our first glasshouse strawberries was amazingly high, so we could hardly satisfy it. What also helps us marketing-wise is that glasshouse strawberries are hardly grown here in the north, so the demand from market participants for such a product is correspondingly high. The prices we have now been able to realize in the early area have also been predominantly satisfactory."
Sustainability was always a top priority in the realization of the flagship project, Mann continues. "When you put so much money into it, the Glass House must still be a showcase project in ten years' time, and it must be state of the art. Accordingly, it was particularly important to me that the technology was also thought through to the end in every respect." Thus, the greenhouse was designed as a closed system with a recycling system for the drain. "In the early area, we don't even need 1 liter of well water. The amount of water we store in the water basin over the winter months is completely sufficient for early growing." In addition, some of the excess drain water is recirculated and recycled after extensive disinfection (using UV).
View into the storage layers. In addition to antagonists, bumblebees from Koppert Biological Systems are also used here.
The glasshouse is heated by means of an advanced wood chip power plant. Around half of the wood required is covered by sawn timber from cleared apple orchards, with the remainder sourced from the neighborhood wherever possible. Mann: "Although wood chip prices have also risen in recent years, they have not risen in line with gas and oil prices. Although the system involves more effort comparatively, it is still a cheaper and, above all, more sustainable solution."
After the completion of the early harvest (early-mid May) in the glasshouse, the process continues seamlessly with tunnel strawberries of the Clery variety. The autumn harvest in the glasshouse is expected to last from mid-September to early November.
For more information:
Apenser Str. 200
Tel.: +49 4161 558542