Sabine Engelhardt Chooses Brac Agriculture over Architecture

Lauren Simmonds

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Copyright Romulic and Stojcic
Copyright Romulic and Stojcic

As Morski/Blanka Kufner writes, Sabine Engelhardt is the owner of the eco estate Gea Viva which has been entirely designed according to permaculture principles. Her goal in life is not to use more than the planet can handle and she imagines the future of the world we live in as a multitude of small but strong local communities where people live self-sustainably.

The German national who moved to Croatia thirteen years ago is an architect and carpenter by profession, and while she had some level of contact with agriculture in her childhood, she never went on to have any sort of employment in it as an adult. She considers it illogical that in Germany, for example, they save on food, which is essential for health, and spend an awful lot of money on cars. For years she worked as an architect in Great Britain, but at one point she felt a strong need for change and decided to create her new life near Milna on the island of Brac, Agroklub writes.

The permaculture way of life has been attractive to her for a long time because the planet we live on is important to her, and she was also involved in eco-architecture. Her main idea was to organise a meeting place for people who think in a similar way, and agriculture, she says, somehow developed along the way.

”Permaculture is very close to the traditional approach to agriculture because it encourages a variety of plants, working with your hands, and a circular economy. Some things are more modern, others are very close to the traditional way of life,” Sabine Engelhardt explained, readily admitting that agriculture on Brac is a challenge.

Since there’s no connection to the water supply, you can’t really base much on the production of vegetables, but there are plenty of fig trees and other fruit trees that she planted, as well as 180 olive trees. She realised that it is more profitable for her to produce olive brine than olive oil, and she also creates massage oils, macerates, creams, salves and soaps. On her family farm (OPG), which spans a little more than one hectare, he has various medicinal plants from which she makes things.

”The immortelle one is excellent for injuries and burns, and the mint one it great for neck massages,” she revealed. As an interesting product, she pointed out a mixture of dry herbs that are lit for a pleasant smell in the home. It is particularly important for her that consumers become aware of how much power they do actually have and that it is important what they choose to spend their cash on, and she strongly advocates for supporting local producers.

”It’s important for me to be able to spend time out in nature, not in the office. It’s a great asset to be able to organise your day as you wish, even though there is a lot of work to do,” said Sabine, admitting that it isn’t easy because she has to take care of several animals – a donkey, chickens, a dog and a cat, and all of the plants, so she can’t “just go somewhere”.

Regardless of the many obligations and the great effort invested, Sabine Engelhardt says that the satisfaction she gets from creating her own products is far more valuable than anything else. This year, she had a lot of figs and tomatoes, but the potatoes were a complete failure. She added that this year she grew lentils for the first time, struggled with peeling them, and in the end only got five tablespoons. However, with a smile, her quinces produce well almost every season. She doesn’t earn much from farming, she gets a little more from the campsite she runs and the events it offers. She doesn’t lead a luxurious life and constantly needs to invest more and more.

She likes life in Dalmatia, as well as the fact that people here know how to enjoy the little things. When she first arrived on the island, there were still plenty of people who could pass on knowledge about traditional agriculture to her and she regrets that young people mostly run away from agriculture because there are fewer and fewer old people with experience to gain wisdom from.

Sabine also resents how absolutely everything is aimed at tourism, and the construction of yet another new resort is also planned near her property.

”I feel that big changes are coming and that people will need to focus more on food production and self-sustainability,” concluded Sabine Engelhardt.

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