What moves you? That’s the question we take with us when we visit people who get things moving, doing their little bit to improve the world. Who promote ideas, dare to do new things and follow different paths.
The sun laughs over the Gut Peetzig farm as if teasing the autumn. An ancient lime tree guards the old building that is home to Heike, Ulf and their family. Here at Gut Peetzig, a Demeter farm in the Uckermark region, they grow grain for Uckermark bread. A small herd of Galloway cows grazes in the surrounding meadows. Ulf has worked the land since German reunification, trying to get the best out of the ground in a sustainable manner.
At some point Heike and Ulf decided to add hemp to the crop rotation plan. A summer plant, it helps to improve the soil, bridging the gap between two cultivation periods. As hemp is also a wonderful agricultural crop, they wondered how they might put it to use after harvesting. But nothing they tried turned out to be really profitable. Processing costs usually exceeded the value of the resulting products. Until actor Maria Simon came to film at a neighbouring farm and discovered a hemp plant there. It came from Gut Peetzig. Maria visited Heike and Ulf and it was the start of a wonderful connection. Maria Simon had an idea for how to make something from the hemp in a way that was both sustainable and profitable.
Together, Maria and Wildling founder Anna stroll through the bright yellow-green hemp fields.
From acting to hemp oil
“I earn my living by acting. I've been playing Commissioner Olga in the German detective drama series “Polizeiruf 110” for several years. I also perform as a singer. What I love about acting is that I can think about people with all their different facets. And that of course helps me keep growing.
At some point I was filming at a community farm nearby. The atmosphere was really warm; several generations lived there together, and as I crossed the farm I saw this hemp plant. It was beautiful, and hemp had already become a part of my life many years before: Hemp seeds for salads, muesli or snacks, hemp oil for cosmetic use or as a dressing. The plant contains so much goodness, and you can use pretty much all of it - from root to tip. So I asked around at the farm to find out where that hemp plant came from. And they told me about Heike and Ulf and Gut Peetzig.
And right away I had the idea of producing our own hemp oil. I visited the two of them and we got on well immediately. We were kindred spirits.
But they’d just stopped planting hemp because of the difficulty of processing it. Here at Gut Peetzig, hemp was planted in order to improve the soil for the crop rotation. They then tried to sell the fibres, for example as insulating material. But none of it was profitable.
Regional hemp oil in Demeter quality
Together, we thought about other things you could do with hemp. Hemp did so much for people before it got a bad reputation. It was used as fabric for clothing, in medicine and in the kitchen. This knowledge has disappeared, and with our hemp oil I wanted to contribute to a hemp revival.
Hemp oil is an unbelievably nutritious food. But in our society it often needs an explanation. As I said, hemp has a strange reputation: it's immediately associated with cannabis. Many people still need to be convinced that it’s also valuable, with many uses.
Of course hemp oil is already available from various suppliers. But since I started thinking about sustainability, a regional focus has become more and more important. Hemp oil is often imported from China. That’s why I had the idea of making a regional hemp oil, produced here at Gut Peetzig with Demeter certification.
It was six years from getting the idea to holding the first bottle of hemp oil in my hand. That was one-and-a-half years ago. Our hemp oil is Demeter-certified, fair and regional. I'm fully behind the product. It's full of love and craftsmanship, and that's what attracts the right people. It’s so important that what you do always serves the people around you. We’ve still got lots to do. And then miracles happen.
Maria, thanks for the interview!