© Zeller Land Tourismus GmbH

You're lucky!

Organic pig farm Althaus-Zell

The saviours of the colourful Bentheimer

It is a typical autumn morning in November. Fog hangs in the valley of the Mosel. But the higher we drive up, the fog lifts and the sunshine. We are lucky - a bright blue sky. Best weather to visit the organic farm in the Zell district of Althaus above Zell (Mosel) and their famous Colourful Bentheimer Land pigs. "It really smells like pigs here," my daughter says as we get out. It is a pleasant country air, just like you know it when you have grown up in the country. It is feeding time. The pigs crowd around the feed trough, but everyone gets their fill. Some look at us curiously, directly into the camera.

Volker Luckenbach, who comes from the Westerwald, and his wife Waltraud Fazio have fulfilled their dream here on the Hunsrück heights. Through friends, they discovered the old disused dairy farm.  After all the requirements for keeping pigs outdoors were met, they got the green light from the authorities to move in together in May 2018. The trained chef and the hotel and restaurant manageress have over 30 years of experience in the catering industry. Since they both had high meat standards, they kept a few pigs for the small restaurant in the Westerwald. "By chance, I came across the Colourful Bentheimer Land pigs breed," he says. The animal breed is threatened with extinction and was put on the red list of farm animal breeds threatened with extinction. Nowadays, this breed is gaining importance because it is characterised by a better meat quality than the highly bred pigs.

By chance, I came across the Colourful Bentheimer Land pigs breed

© Zeller Land Tourismus GmbH

Since May 2018, they have focused on breeding and fattening this breed and are on the road at many markets as a direct marketer with their own sales truck. Three hundred animals live on the farm - piglets, fattening pigs, sows and boars.  The couple attaches great importance to species-appropriate husbandry, natural reproduction, lots of straw and less concrete floor, green fodder and sauerkraut, and a large meadow for rooting. The organic farm is also certified with the "Bioland" seal. The pigs stay on the farm for nine to ten months, and then they are slaughtered in a Hunsrück butcher's shop nearby. Due to the many movements on the farm and the good feed, the meat has an extraordinary taste. The chef also produces much of the meat himself. It is also delivered to some restaurants in the Eifel and on the Mosel. He would like to see more restaurants move away from factory farming and work more with regional products. "Of course, this only works if the tourists and the locals also honour this. The population's awareness is slowly growing; more value is being placed on sustainable animal welfare," says Luckenbach.

Since this year, the farm has also belonged to "Land pleasure", the somewhat different guide to pitches for motorhomes, camping buses and caravans. The guide's purchase includes an annual vignette that allows guests to stay on a farm for one day free of charge in a quiet and natural atmosphere. In the future, Mr Luckenbach plans to expand this with services such as a barbecue evening and farm tours. And many hiking trails such as the Moselsteig or the Dream loops of the Saar-Hunsrück-Steig are also very close by...

Two questions for Volker Luckenbach

1. If you had a whole day free, what would you do without fail?
"When we have free time, we go hiking a lot. We like the Moselsteig very much. We have already walked a few stages there."

2. Do you have a favourite place in the Zell region?
"We like to be down by the Mosel, then walk along the vineyards and just enjoy the landscape."

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