A Breath of fresh Air for Village Life: Stiftung Lebensräume Ovelgönner Mühle

Ovelgönner Mühle
Photo: NWZ

The Lebensräume Ovelgönner Mühle foundation offers living and working opportunities for adults with assistance needs. Since its founding in 1989, the facility has continued developing and establishing itself around the old mill tower in the former fortified town Ovelgönne (district of Wesermarsch/Lower Saxony). Its residents now live and work as autonomously as possible within a manageable framework. At the same time, they contribute to a vibrant village life – which is a great advantage in light of the weakening local infrastructure. Since the beginnings of the community at the end of the 1980s, businesses such as the old village shop or the post office, but also the bank branch, hotel and pub in the village have closed one after the other. A trend the foundation has countered: Employees and workers run the pub with function room, hotel and bowling alley, provide caretaking and laundry services, offer a delivery service and run a village shop where parcels can also be posted and cash withdrawn.

For some years now, organic farming has also been practised at Ovelgönner Mühle. The Software AG Foundation supported a three-year development phase on an adjacent plot of land where those in charge could create meeting spaces for young and old and where people with and without disabilities cultivate an esteemed relationship with the earth and shape their cooperation sustainably. In the process, they opt for regionally suitable plant varieties or animal breeds and place value on transparent production conditions as well as short transport routes. Products such as eggs, fruit, vegetables, flowers and honey are all available in the Burgdorf shop. Joint nature conservation projects with the local preschool as well as a primary and special school are enriching for all involved. This also applies to the cooperation with a day care centre for senior citizens, for whom recreation and activity areas will be created on the property. “Social farming convincingly combines ecology, sustainability and inclusion”, says SAGST project manager Konrad Lampart. “Our society can only benefit from this, as the example of the Ovelgönner Mühle shows. In its excellent local network lies a powerful seed that creates experience spaces and opportunities for encounters for a wide variety of people.”