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Outstanding leader in the realm of organic agriculture

hans hohenester sw 350

Organic agriculture was both his career and his calling. Hans Hohenester started out as an organic farming 26 years ago, when he became a member of Naturland,  culminating in his work as chairman of the board, a role in which he made an indelible impression on the association and in countless further offices. However, he also was key to promoting the development of organic agriculture in general, especially in Bavaria. After a serious illness, Hans Hohenester passed away on Sunday at the age of 59, surrounded by his family.

Dr. Felix Prinz zu Löwenstein, Chairman of BÖLW (German Federation of the Organic Food Industry), who was also a member of Naturland’s board of directors for 16 years concurrently with Hans Hohenester, commended the deceased as an outstanding leader in the realm of organic agriculture. “As a practising farmer, he was a perfect representative of the authenticity and credibility of our movement,“ said Löwenstein.

“Hans Hohenester was an innovator and visionary, and he had the gift of inspiring others to champion organic agriculture too. His enthusiasm and farsightedness have left a lasting impression on Naturland, and he never failed to confront us with the need to implement changes,“ said Steffen Reese, the general manager of Naturland, adding, “With Hans’ demise, we are losing a part of ourselves – but part of him will always remain with us.”

From the Catholic Young Farmers to organic agriculture

For Hans Hohenester, the policies and practice of organic agriculture were always closely linked from the very beginning., his involvement with the KLJB (Catholic Young Farmers) dates from the late 1970s, at the time he was pursuing his studies for his vocational degree in agriculture. It was here that he campaigned for the necessary greening of agriculture, in keeping with the Christian concept of the integrity of creation.
As is characteristic of a genuine personality such as Hans Hohenester’s, this political involvement inevitably had consequences for his own agricultural practice. In 1991 he and his wife, Maria, converted the farm he had taken over from his parents to organic in compliance with the Naturland standards. His efforts were crowned with success: the Hohenester farm today comprises some 120 hectares, producing potatoes and food grain, besides fodder for their pigs.

Naturland moulded into a powerful organic association

A parallel initiative was the start of his commitment to organic agriculture within the Naturland association. Starting 1993 Hohenester, in various offices, worked with great commitment and ambition towards transforming Naturland, at that time in the early years an amalgamation of small regional groups, into a powerful organic association of national and international standing. In 2005 Hohenester was elected chairman of Naturland’s board of directors for the first time, a post he held for a further three terms, each time elected by an overwhelming majority.
In this capacity his goal was always to procure the political leverage necessary for Naturland as an association to enable it to produce the best results for organic agriculture whilst at the same time enhancing the presence of the Naturland label within the trade.

International responsibility and Naturland Fair

Whilst deeply rooted in his Bavarian soil, Hohenester never lost sight of the international perspective and global responsibility inherent in our food production. It was his firm conviction that organic agriculture can only work if farmers are paid a fair price for their products, wherever in the world they may be. The introduction of certification to the Naturland Fair standards in 2010 was, for him, the logical expression of the direction in which organic agriculture and our food industry as a whole need to develop.

Memorial service late January/early February

Hans Hohenester leaves behind his wife, Maria, and two grown-up children, their daughter Maria Lena and their son Johannes, who has been managing the farm since his father fell ill and who will continue to do so. Peter Warlich, a member of the board of Naturland, will become the provisional chairman of the association until the board of directors comes up for re-election in May.
In late January/early February an official memorial service will be held. The location and time will be announced on this homepage. An online book of condolence is placed on the internet under