This is the story of how byproducts in growing food can be used to boost regional development. In Oberndorf (Oste) a village development took place from 2010, accompanied by the Institute for Participatory Design (IPG). In the course of this project, structures for citizen participation were created, such as a monthly forum, and numerous people were interested in founding a cooperative whose focus is on renewable energies. At the beginning of 2012 we were asked to introduce ourselves and give further ideas and food for thought for the potentials of the village on the topic of sustainability ,innovation and regional development.

As a management consultancy, it very quickly became clear to us that in the middle of Germany’s dairy region, liquid manure is actually not a problem but an opportunity. So the following model was created: liquid manure is separated on several agricultural farms, the fixed component is transported to a biogas plant, which is completely fed with liquid manure. This in itself already brings several advantages from an economic point of view: water bodies are relieved and the farmer can better spread the remaining liquid manure. In addition, there is no competition with maize, which is otherwise bought up for biogas production. The waste heat is used for two purposes: firstly, to dry the fermentation residues, which are then pelletised into fertiliser and packaged as a product and transported to nutrient-poor regions. The remaining heat is used for fish farming of a particularly ecological fish: the African catfish (clarias gariepinus) is thermophilic, robust and very tasty. It has a very good feed conversion ratio of approx. 1:1 (one kg of feed is turned into one kg of fish) and feels very comfortable in the dense shoal, so that a high stocking density is possible. The waste water is currently still cleaned by a constructed wetland, but in the future greenhouses are planned, in which not only vegetables but also banana trees will thrive.


Yet another food related project of regional development is the story of Oberndorf. We accompanied the process of how Oberndorf became the public limited company ostewert AG. The dynamics in the village led to several other projects: in the building of the closed primary school, the “Kiwitte” offers free afternoon care, including lunch, homework and exciting activities such as sailing on the youth cutter or physical experiments. After the local baker retired, the home port took over the restaurant with café-style pastries and wine. The closed restaurant was first reopened voluntarily by a small group of citizens. Today the Kombüse 53° Nord is a popular restaurant with delicious food – and meanwhile several paid employees. Recently, ostewert AG has now taken over the local butchery, as the owner has also retired. This has created a total of 11 jobs in the small village – and the development goes even further! From 2013 to 2016 we were accompanied by a film team during this village development. The result is the documentary film “Von Bananenbäumen träumen”, which was shown very successfully at several film festivals in autumn 2016 and will be shown in cinemas nationwide from 30.03.2017.