Case Study

Deckers Biohof


Deckers Biohof

1. Introduction

a. Essence of the Best Practice

The organic farm has existed for about 30 years and has experience in the areas of store, weekly market, nursery, delivery service and administration. The combination of office management, customer service in the farm stores as well as customer service in the online store and directly at the source in the nursery, creates a holistic added value of know-how in their family business.

b. What/ How/ Who/ Where

Biohof Decker is an organic farm located in Bühl (Baden-Würrtemberg) and belongs to the Black Forest National Park Region. The farm is managed by Christoph Decker, 38 years old. The number of employees is almost 100 people, of which four are family members. Today, the farm has about 20 hectares of arable land. On it he grows mainly vegetables and lettuce. He also owns two hectares of orchards, where he grows old varieties of apples. The products are marketed in different ways: through the farm store directly on the farm, which has existed since 2007. Also Deckers Biohof owns and runs its own managed organic markets in the region (Baden-Baden and Sinzheim) with homegrown and manufactured produce and additional products. Likewise, he sells his products through market stalls. Also exists an online shop with delivery service and very large focus on the organic boxes.

2. Given Situation before Startup/ Change

a. Existing farm or new/ side entry

Fruit, lettuce and vegetables have been grown on the land in Bühl since the early 1970s. Deckers Biohof has been managing the farm since 2004.

3. Decisions made at the beginning (AIMS/ GOALS)

a. Selection of Seeds/ Breeds/ Location for Production

The apple trees with the old varieties were already present in the fields of the farm. However, these scattered fruit trees had not been cared for before. More apple trees of old varieties are planted regularly. The farm gets the seeds from a regional apple grower who specializes in this.

b. Decision for the production system (Intensive, extensive, organic, biodynamic)

The land had already been farmed according to Demeter principles and Decker’s Biohof has also been producing its products according to Demeter principles and values since the takeover. The farm wants to contribute to the protection of the environment and nature and to preserve and promote the cultural landscape with its ecological cultivation and the care of orchards.

c. Decision about Processing stage and Market depth

The 20 hectares of arable land is divided as follows: ten hectares of open land, two hectares of orchards, and half a hectare of greenhouse facility. The remaining area is used for shrubs, hedges and habitat for insects, birds, etc. 

The farm grows the following products itself: e.g., potatoes, various types of cabbage, onion plants, beets and cut lettuces. It buys other products from other regional organic partners and farms. 

In addition to its own orchard meadows with old apple varieties, the farm takes care of other meadows and also leases other orchard areas from the city in the area.

d. Decision for the Market to be delivered: B2B and/or B2C

The farm takes advantage of the opportunities and benefits of both approaches.

4. Gallery

5. Measures taken to establish the business (PLANNING/SETTING)

a. Network, Exchange, Training, Counselling

Christoph Decker, 38 years old, is a master gardener and manager of the organic farm. 

The farm is an important part of the organic model region Mittelbaden+, which is a project of the state of Baden-Württemberg. Deckers Biohof is strongly committed to strengthening and expanding organic farming in the region and advises other farmers on several levels.

b. Single Farm/ Cooperation/ Cooperative

Deckers Biohof does not see itself as an independent organism, but as an important marketing partner in the region. Overall, a strong networking with many different actors in the region, but also beyond, is pursued.  They also pursue to enter into dialogue with consumers and customers through the diverse direct marketing.

6. Next steps to move on (MOVE ON/ ADAPT)

a. Steps in production/ processing/ selling

  • Expansion of e-mobility in our fleet for the delivery service because of the rising energy costs for combustion engines
  • The farm is planning a new building with photovoltaic system and water storage function of rainwater –> Independence from external influences in the energy sector and aiming to cover its own energy consumption up to 70 percent.

b. Steps ahead in relevant Markets

In planning are “products from organic sample region Mittelbaden+”, e.g., products which will then be marked with a logo that they come from the region (–> buy local principle).

7. Quote and Recommendation of the Promoter

a. Is it worth it?

Regarding the old apple varieties: the cultivation and processing of old varieties is very worthwhile. The juice is very well received and there is a great demand for it.

b. What is the biggest revenue, what is the biggest challenge?

  • Delivery service/direct marketing: 
    • No changes need to be made in the delivery service; satisfied. E-mobility: 
    • extremely high personnel costs (e.g., finding employees)
  • E-mobility: 
    • higher acquisition costs, shorter delivery range 
    • start focusing on e-mobility earlier, start expanding self-produced electricity earlier.

c. What you recommend to other farmers?

  • Create marketing concept and search/find reliable buyers
  • Adjust annually
  • Seek advice in cultivation and areas that cannot be covered by oneself (e.g., Agricultural offices; organic farming associations; local advisory services)
  • Choose the most sustainable form of cultivation (organic cultivation)
  • Marketing (security of acceptance or sales) must be in place from the beginning before investing. 
  • Calculate prices of products well and communicate composition well, especially for consumers.

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