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Introducing our growers: Hessenpark Open-Air Museum

Hessenpark is a long-standing partner of the ‘A Year On The Field’ project and has participated in every growing year (wheat, flax and now the potato year) so far. We are therefore pleased to introduce it in more detail here.

Potato field at Hessenpark in 2023.

Not only will you find more than one hundred re-erected historic buildings in Hessenpark Open Air Museum, but also fields, pastures and meadows, fruit trees, gardens, a vineyard and many animals that were once typical for the farms in the region. Throughout the year, they offer interested visitors insights into the historical life and work of the rural population by presenting demonstrations on the various steps of grain and fibre plant processing or on the everyday chores of animal husbandry. At the Hessenpark Open Air Museum visitors get the chance to experience historical agricultural practices first-hand.

Potato harvest at Hessenpark (2023).

The fields in the museum are tilled according to the principle of “three-field rotation”. This type of cultivation is the predecessor of modern rotation farming of arable land. In the three-field rotation system, the winter crops (rye or wheat) are sown in autumn, persevered through the winter as shoots and reach harvest maturity in summer. This cultivation technique was possible with grains which managed to get through the winter months well. The winter crop is followed by a summer crop like oats, which is sown in spring and harvested only 5 to 6 months later in August. These two crops are followed by a fallow year, so that the soil can recover before the next winter crop is sown. The fallow land is used as pasture to reduce weeds. The manure of the grazing animals will also improve the fertility of the soil.

About this year's potato cultivation

At Hessenpark, they're cultivating Simonetta potatoes sourced from a commercial producer for the second consecutive year. Chosen for its drought tolerance, firm texture when boiled, excellent health attributes, and delicious taste, Simonetta is their top pick. Their 500 m² plot in Asterrode features heavy clay/loam soil and is quite wet, having previously been cultivated with clover-grass, sunflower, phacelia, and buckwheat. With an average temperature of 9.2 °C and 680 mm of annual precipitation at 380 meters above sea level, their region offers favorable climatic conditions. To prepare the plot for planting, three consecutive steps followed each other:

  1. Ploughing

  2. Levelling the soil with turned (upside-down) harrow or pasture equipment

  3. Use of harrow or a combined cultivator or previous tillage with a heavy cultivator to provide deep soil

In this context they use a 3 share plough and a modern tractor with 95 horsepower for plowing, and for leveling a 6-meter pasture device on a modern tractor or a turned harrow with a smaller tractor (1963 Hanomag tractor with 30 horsepower). For further tillage, a combined cultivator with a modern tractor or a 3-part harrow on a smaller tractor (as above) are used.

Potato harvesting as a group activity

We are already looking forward to seeing how this year's potato cultivation at Hessenpark will develop and will keep you up to date here with text and pictures!


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