The acceptance points are no longer worthwhile

The atmosphere at the annual general meeting of the Rhön apple initiative is good. But there is one challenge that gnaws at all actors. How do the highly acclaimed Rhön apples get to the wineries?

In contrast to other initiatives, the Rhön is a large, sparsely populated country. And the wineries of the Rhön Apple Initiative – with the exception of the winery of apple winemaker Jürgen H. Krenzer – are more on the outskirts of the catchment area. They pay good prices, but with the current fuel prices, it is not worthwhile to drive there directly over 50 kilometers or more.

It’s not worth it, as many have discovered.

The solution so far has been collection points. But there are only two left in the Rhön. One in Elfershausen near Hammelburg and run by board member Christian Reusch, the other in Nordheim run by the Riedel family.

Recently there were also acceptance points in Empfertshausen, Dermbach and Buttlar in the Rhön region of Thuringia. And there it was only thanks to the enthusiasm and idealism of the protagonists that they still existed, as Jürgen H. Krenzer, founding and board member, writes in a press release. But that’s over now. “Because you can’t make any money with a collection point.”

Jürgen H. Krenzer speaks of a “world heritage with a needle eye”. After all, what use is it if new apple trees are promoted and planted, tree wardens are trained and in the end the apples no longer reach the wine presses. “We need help if we want to preserve and further develop the undisputed cultural asset ‘Rhöner Streuobst’.”

Jürgen H. Krenzer asks: “Even worse – what if the wineries have to close? This is due to rising operating costs, but also the lack of awareness on the part of the end consumer – it just costs more to drink a regional apple juice with added value. Advertising for regionality – raising awareness among the population – exemplary in self-consumption, according to Jürgen H. Krenzer, these are all the tasks that the state institutions now have to do.

The Rhön apple initiative is the only German orchard initiative that has been running without public funding since 1995. The financing comes exclusively from the membership fees and the apple cent, which is linked to the harvest of the apples delivered to the wineries. It is logical that it is getting smaller and smaller, since hardly any apples reach the apple press. The end of the Rhön apple initiative and with it the end of a unique cultural asset is getting closer if help doesn’t come soon.

However, Jürgen H. Krenzer also has a solution: The biosphere reserves of Thuringia, Hesse and Bavaria operate so-called pop-up collection points directly or indirectly with partners at suitable locations. “This means we have three acceptance points that accept apples on certain days in September and October in the central Rhön. Here one could perhaps include the field of environmental education. In addition, the ‘biosphere’ becomes even more tangible for people.” red

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