Susan looks back on her trip to Germany
and live on Freeview channel 276
Here is her report: “My name is Susan Gilmour, I am a member of Finvoy YFC. I recently embarked on an exciting agricultural exchange program that took me across the seas to Germany.
“Thanks to YFCU and the German equivalent, Landjugend, I had the incredible opportunity to spend two enriching weeks in the picturesque Schleswig-Holstein region of Germany in June and July 2023.
“My adventure began as I touched down at Hamburg Airport, greeted by my first host, Jessica Bruhn. We made our way to her home in Husum, a charming town in the heart of the Schleswig-Holstein region. After a delightful lunch, we embarked on a journey to Nordstrand, a unique half island connected to the mainland by a narrow road.
“Nordstrand’s landscape is nothing short of breathtaking. The land stretches out flat and wide, offering unobstructed views that seem to go on forever. Locals have a saying that goes, ‘you can see your guests coming two days before they arrive’, highlighting the vast openness of the area.
“Traditional architecture graces the few houses scattered throughout the countryside, surrounded by endless fields of wheat – the most common crop in the region. As I explored, I couldn't miss the famous mudflats and the protective dikes encircling the island. The sense of community on Nordstrand is palpable, and I was warmly welcomed to numerous local events during my first week, from volleyball games to ring riding and spirited competitions with teams donning imaginative costumes, followed by lively water games and an unforgettable sunrise party.
“One of the region’s weekly highlights is the Husum farmers market, held every Thursday. There, local producers offer their delicious bread, cheese, flowers, and fruits. My host and I couldn't resist the offerings, indulging in a picnic breakfast overlooking the picturesque harbour. We also ventured to Kiel for the annual funfair and sailing event, where we braved roller coasters, explored diverse food stalls, and savoured Danish ice cream. The evening treated us to a unique experience as we boarded a sailing boat, learning to raise the sails as we glided along the River Kiel, witnessing the captivating sunset on the longest day of the year.
“The following day, we set sail for the island of Amrum, renting bicycles to explore its quaint towns, historic church, and old mill. Along the way, we discovered homemade jams for sale, crafted from island-grown or foraged ingredients. We also met up with local Landjugend members, Vanessa and Oke, who shared the joys and challenges of island farming. Visiting Oke’s farm, the last one on the island, gave us valuable insights into island life. Our journey continued to Tade and Lena’s farm, where they embraced modern farming techniques, including a Lely Kitchen and robot milking machines, aiming for more leisure time. A neighbouring farm, famous for its ice cream, even had a vending machine to make it accessible to all. Our final farm visit was to Janik Jacobsen's pig farm, where he explained the ins and outs of his operations and his ambitious plans for the future.
“In the second week, I joined Jörn Bock and his family on their dairy farm in Nübbel, outside Rendsburg. This week immersed me in the daily life of a German dairy farm, where I helped with machinery, milked cows, cared for calves, and guided local nursery school children on farm tours. We also enjoyed a bike tour around Rensburg, exploring local attractions and taking a refreshing dip at the nearby beach. My last day was spent exploring the vibrant sights, shops, cafes, and restaurants in the bustling city of Hamburg.”
Susan concluded: “Reflecting on this extraordinary exchange, I was struck by two key takeaways. Firstly, the significant presence of women in agriculture, whether they come from farming backgrounds or not, left a lasting impression on me. Secondly, the dedication to renewable energy resources was evident in the region, with many farms adopting solar panels, wind turbines, or participating in anaerobic digester cooperatives.
“Moreover, I observed common challenges faced by farmers in the UK and Germany, including the impact of climate change, wildlife conservation efforts, uncertainty about government policies, and the pursuit of diversified income streams.
“I extend my heartfelt gratitude to both Jessi and Jörn, along with their welcoming families, for hosting me over these two remarkable weeks.
“This exchange has enriched my life with enduring memories and friendships, reminding me of the global bonds that agriculture can forge.”