“Locally Sourced” in the US Has Nothing on Austria

This week we’re going to do a very minor deep dive on a very special tradition over here in Austria that my colleagues and I had the special privilege of both witnessing and simply touring; a farm (Bauernhof). But farming is not so similar to the way we do it back home, where on average one of our typical farms encompasses roughly 444 acres, Austrian farms average maybe 55. The size and function of the farming caters to the luscious mountain sides we romanticize, the Bergbauernhof. This style of farming is placed on steep slopes that run into the mountains. But more fascinating is that of the Alm.

The alm is an area further up in the mountains that is mostly for hosting the livestock between May and September. As fall begins to set in; the families and others helping on the Bergbauernhof herd the animals back to the farm at the base. This is an incredible sight to see. Folks wearing traditional Trachten running alongside a herd of sheep or, if you’re lucky, cows. When they get all animals home, they hold festivities to celebrate both the survival of the animals and a good year. The ‘lucky’ reason I mentioned above, in light of the cows, is that they in particular wear a celebratory collar with a large bell at the end. This is where the Sound of Music actually (kind of) got Austria right: the hills are in fact alive with music. 

Cow with Traditional Collar and Bell
One of the cows that had just returned from the alm post-Almabtrieb (literally means: Alm down herd)
Farmers Herding Sheep Down from the Alm and back to the farm
A herd of sheep on their Almabtrieb that actually blocked off the road we were trying to drive up.

Festivities aside, another differing factor here is that of the care which goes into the production of everything that comes out of these farms. Austria’s regulations on food are actually quite strict but ensure the greatest quality. They produce meats, cheeses, eggs, schnapps, you name it; and with the official “AMA” stamp on the produce, you can literally trace an egg back to the coup it came from! The Bergbauernhof is also a strong attraction for tourism. Keep that in mind if you ever find yourself out here. After eating some of this food, you WILL NOT regret it.

Nicole and Chris with a hen on a Bauernhof
One of the many hens at Schmaranz posing for a quick photo shoot.
Eggs with the codes one can use to trace where they came from.
Hermann with some eggs
AAIE Director, Hermann Weissgärber holding up a carton of eggs from Schmaranz, a Bauernhof we visited in the Gastein Valley.