I was invited to have breakfast and a look around Domäne Mechtildshausen by local non-profit the Wiesbadener Jugendwerkstatt GmbH and Bioland e.V., Germany’s largest organic food association (scroll down for more information about both of those). All words and opinions are my own.
My bus was a few minutes late, so by the time I arrived for breakfast at Domäne Mechtildshausen (slightly dishevelled, having arriving home late the night before) there was only one seat left at the breakfast table. I sat down next to Christoph Zentgraf, the farm’s Restaurants and Service Coach, greeted the handful of local bloggers and the representatives from Bioland and the Wiesbadener Jugendwerkstatt GmbH (WJW), and admired the delightful spread of food before me.
I’d visited Domäne Mechtildshausen, an organic farm in a suburb of Wiesbaden, on several previous occasions, and often buy fresh veg from their stall at the Wiesbaden market. I’m very much a fan of the place, so was thrilled to be asked to come and have breakfast there and learn a bit more about the place.
First up was a conversation about the work of the farm, Bioland and the WJW over breakfast at Café Bohne, which is situated in the same building as the market hall. (More on that below.) Everything on offer at the breakfast buffet is made right there on the farm – breads, jams, butter, milk, yoghurts, cheeses and sliced meats – and most of the ingredients involved are grown there, too. The food at Domäne Mechtildshausen is all 100% organic. My breakfast was 100% delicious.
The shops and restaurants at Domäne Mechtildshausen take the form of a large, neat complex of buildings around a beautifully-groomed courtyard. It’s a wonderful place to visit for food shopping, a relaxed bite to eat or just to stroll around to look at the animals (note: it’s not a petting zoo!). There’s even a guest house with 12 rooms (doubles from 140€ a night; further details below), should you be visiting from further afield.
Eating at Domäne Mectildshausen
All the food served at Domäne Mechtildshausen is certified organic, and though much of is grown on or made at the farm itself, various ingredients need to be sourced from further afield. In addition to the café, which serves an excellent breakfast buffet and popular array of seasonal cakes, there’s a wine tavern – Die Gans – which is located in the old stables. It has a lovely leafy terrace and offers homely, seasonal German and Mediterranean dishes, including a good selection of vegetarian dishes as well as freshly-baked cakes from the farm’s pâtisserie. There’s also a smart restaurant, at which I’ve eaten on two special occasions and been impressed by both the quality of the ingredients and the excellent list of French and German wines.
Shopping at Domäne Mectildshausen
There are four on-site shops in the buildings around the courtyard at Domäne Mechtildshausen: a butcher, a baker, a cheesemonger and the market hall.
Cattle, pigs and poultry from the farm are all slaughtered and butchered on-site. On the day of our visit, turkey was the only meat that had not come from the farm; the rest of it had come from animals that had been raised at Domäne Mechtildshausen and slaughtered and butchered in the same building as the shop – the cows are all born and raised less than 1000 metres away. The butchers here avoid using using flavour enhancers and preservatives, relying solely on good meat and their own butchering and meat processing skills.
At the cheesemongers, there’s a fab selection of soft and hard cow, goat and sheep cheeses (from the farm and elsewhere), plus all manner of other dairy products including yoghurt, milk and cream. The milk from the farm’s own animals comes from the Montbéliard cows that you can see in the fields here, and Thuringian and Poitou goats that are housed 23km away in Idstein. All the milk is processed on site at Domäne Mechtildshausen.
The bakery smells wonderful, the shelves and glass counter stacked with 20-plus varieties of freshly-baked loaves and an assortment of bread rolls. There’s also a huge selection of seasonal pastries, cakes and rolls that have been made at the on-site pâtisserie. Any of the ingredients used in the bakery that don’t come from the farm itself – goods such as flour, sugar and yeast – all come from certified organic producers.
For fresh fruit and veg, preserved goods, eggs and wine as well as organic household and beauty products (and ice cream!), the market hall is a one-stop shop. It’s an enormous old barn that’s very spacious and well-organised; as with the other shops, not all of the fresh produce here is grown on the farm, but everything here is organic.
Visiting the animals and greenhouses at Domäne Mechtildshausen
After our visits to the various shops, we were taken on a tour of the farm – which anyone can do, as it’s all accessible to amble around at leisure. (I’ve taken my two small children and it was a massive hit.) We explored the greenhouses, where Horticultural Manager Horst Freund carefully explained the processes and complications of organic agriculture, before moving on to visit the animals.
There were chickens – at this time with tens of tiny, squeaky chicks – goats, horses, donkeys and even a Bronze turkey to visit; signs also suggested the existence of geese, ducks and fish. We also went to see the cows: beef cattle in their stalls and brown and white Montbéliard dairy cows out grazing in the fields. The bulls, who weigh up to one and a half tonnes, were for me quite the highlight.
Bioland: one of Germany’s leading organic farming associations
For over 45 years now, registered organic farming association and “grassroots democratic” Bioland has been focused on developing an ecologically, economically and socially acceptable alternative to intensive agriculture dependent on industry and outside investors. Over 7,700 farmers, gardeners, winegrowers and beekeepers in Germany follow Bioland’s guidelines for organic farming. Their core goals and principles include sustainable production of high-quality, healthy food, the promotion of biodiversity, protection of the environment and preservation of a diverse cultural landscape; fair partnerships and trade, sustainable jobs and preserving a vibrant rural culture.
Website: bioland.de (in German)
Wiesbadener Jugendwerkstatt GmbH
The WJW is a nonprofit organisation whose goal is to support the reintegration of unemployed youths and adults into the workplace. At the head office location, there are apprenticeships offered in skilled trades such as carpentry, bricklaying and electronics. Domäne Mechtildshausen offers apprenticeships in all areas of agriculture and gastronomy, from fruit and vegetable-growing and animal farming to restaurant and kitchen service, cheesemaking and pâtisserie.
Website: wjwgmbh.de (in German)
How to get to Domäne Mechtildshausen…
From Wiesbaden Hauptbahnhof (main train station) bus stop A, take the number 28 bus to Wiesbaden-Delkenheim Domäne Mechtildshausen in the direction of Mainz Mombacher Tor. The journey time is approximately 20 minutes.
From Mainz, take the number 28 bus from Mainz Hbf West/Mzr Taubertsbergbad to Wiesbaden-Delkenheim Domäne Mechtildshausen in the direction of Wiesbaden-Erbenheim Egerstraße. The journey time is around 35 minutes.
Both buses stop directly outside the farm. Please note for your return journey that they are on the same line (28), which runs between Wiesbaden and Mainz. You therefore need to make sure you are taking your return bus in the right direction: for Wiesbaden, in the direction of Wiesbaden-Erbenheim Egerstraße and for Mainz, in the direction of Mainz Mombacher Tor.
A single adult ticket costs 2,80€; see the RMV website (in several different languages, link to English site) for bus times.
…or by bike
It is also possible to reach Domäne Mechtildshausen from Wiesbaden across the fields on two wheels. You can plan your cycle route with the Hessen Radroutenplanner (in German).