THE PIRCHHOF FARM IN PLAUS SHOWS THAT DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY CAN BE WORTH IT. THIS IS A STORY OF HOW A COUPLE OF ALPINE MOUNTAIN FARMERS MANAGED TO SUCCESSFULLY REINVENT THEMSELVES.
It was in april 2014 when Helli Weithaler and Steffi Mößinger of the Pirchhof farm in Plaus were awarded yet another prize as the top dairy producer of the year. As on previous occasions, there were handshakes and congratulations all round. Shortly after, the pair decided to give up dairy farming altogether and try something new.
Four years later, we’re now standing in an empty cowshed. “Understandably, our decision at the time was greeted with disbelief in the farming community,” recounts Helli with a smile. A South Tyrolean mountain farm without dairy cows? How’s that supposed to work? “The wellbeing of our animals have always been our top priority and of course this applied to our dairy farm. Which, by the way, is how we managed to produce the best milk! Nevertheless”, adds Steffi, an astute German, “we could simply no longer identify with this type of farming”. Yet giving up the mountain farm was also out of the question, especially for Helmuth. This is where as a boy he looked out across the grassy pastures, listened to the buzzing of the bees and where he grew up.
Both he and Steffi knew that they wouldn’t let the difficulties put them off. After selling the dairy cows they started looking for alternative farming opportunities.