Coming back to the area in Germany where it all started has been and will continue to be an adventure in itself. Hüttenfeld is a small village at the edge of the Rhine valley, not far from Heidelberg and Mannheim. The village itself will not win any prices, but the location is good to access other cities and the motorway, the climate is great and most of all the hills and the forests are close by! This definitely has to be the biggest drawback of our previous home, Cambridge, UK.
With our love for nature and the time currently available to us, we started to get involved in conservation volunteer work here as well. When you see how much can be done with a few people, almost no tools and a very small budget in a very very remote location in Indonesia – you can start to imagine what could be done here!
There aren’t many wild and natural places left in Europe and there certainly aren’t any around Hüttenfeld. But after getting in touch with the good people of the local BUND group, we can start to bring back the feeling of machete swinging for a good cause that we had back on Borneo. We were shown some beautiful areas at thep edge of the forest (near the Bergstrasse), that are being transformed back to a mosaic of meadows, fields of wild flowers (including orchids) and fruit trees and small vineyards. This is beginning to be a refuge for bees, butterflies and other insects as well as birds and small mammals. In times where everyone is worried about the decline of bees – an animal that we truly depend upon for pollination of most fruit and crops – these small projects can have a great impact. Some more information (mostly in German) can be found in the pages of the Blühende Bergstrasse project and of the BUND group.
The main tasks for us here have been to help cutting back the overgrowth on the fields and collect the cuttings (some of them can be used as animal feed). We got so excited that we even spent an afternoon raking up a neighbour’s field to allow the wild flowers to return. If the grass cuttings are left on the ground, the flowers will have a hard time competing with the grasses. We definitely received our share of funny looks from passers by for working on the neighbour’s field for free. But once the flowers and butterflies return, everyone will be pleased, I’m sure.