Experiencing Biodiversity hands-on: UN Award for the Schwalbennest Kindergarten Farm
The Schwalbennest (Swallow’s Nest) kindergarten farm at Linsenbühlhof on Lake Constance provides agriculture and nature up close and personal. In an active programme, the children experience the change of seasons and the cycle of growth, flourishing and harvest – at their own vegetable patch in the farmer’s garden as well as when playing in the extensive orchards, fields or the surrounding forest. They help look after the animals on the farm, build insect hotels and hedgehog houses or set up flower meadows for bees and insect-friendly herb beds. Coincidentally, the children also develop an awareness of what it means to take responsibility – entirely in keeping with the UN Decade of Biological Diversity, which is presenting an award to the kindergarten model as a successful example of how children can learn about sustainability and biodiversity at first hand.
Marion Häberle is happy about this acknowledgement. The farmer at Linsenbühlhof, herself the mother of three children, runs the certified educational farm, which had the Schwalbennest added to it when it opened in early 2016. “Without the support of the Software AG Foundation (SAGST), the kindergarten farm would not have been able to survive its first year financially”, she recalls. “Thanks to its start-up help, our project is up and running and has received multiple awards.”
In addition to the UN prize, the kindergarten also receives certification from the Baden-Württemberg state initiative BeKi – Bewusste Kinderernährung or Conscious Child Nutrition. “The farm enables experiences for children that many of their contemporaries are denied today”, says SAGST project manager Elke Rahmann. “Day to day involvement in this particular environment has a beneficial effect on the children’s development.”
The Linsenbühlhof farm is located at the western end of Lake Constance on the Höri peninsula and is run as a sideline by the third generation of owners. Every morning, 20 kindergarten children from the age of three get involved in life on the farm. The large number of animals are a special attraction; 12 dairy cows and their calves live on the farm along with rabbits, sheep and lambs, chickens, two pot-bellied pigs, geese, ducks, the farm dog and several cats – and of course swallows. The wide-ranging, natural open country caters to the children’s natural urge to move; there are plenty of natural materials available to play with such as wood, straw or gravel. “At our farm, children can learn, discover and investigate using all their senses; where they can experience awe, feed, plant, harvest, dig, climb and run around”, as it says on the kindergarten’s website. “This not only boosts their own physical wellbeing but also their immune system.”