Pellworm - a livelihood from diversity

Boot und LeuchtturmAs islanders we make a living from agriculture, fishing and soft tourism - and recently also from renewable energies.  Our guests enjoy the close contact with their hosts and with nature. Living your daily life or enjoying a holiday on Pellworm requires a lot of effort and personal initiative. 

Our island needs new possibilities to earn a living and a clever link between the traditional and new professions to ensure a decent livelihood on the island to the young and the elderly islanders. Flexible thinking and action is also required in view of the challenge of climate change and the changes in agricultural and environmental policies.

Pellworm is one of the five North Frisian islands that lie off the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein in the centre of the national park of Schleswig-Holstein's wadden sea. The marsh island has a population of about 1400 people and is linked with the mainland by ferry.
As ever it is agriculture that leaves its mark on the scenery of our island and the lives of many islanders.  Some young families earn their living as fishermen which last but not least add to the maritime ambience of the old harbour.
The touristic life can mainly be seen during the summer months.  It gives a chance to many island people to secure an additional income.  Trade businesses of different branches and two food stores, an organic farm shop, two branch banks, two bakeries and some other businesses provide locals and guests with everything they need. An elementary school and a secondary school (ages 10 – 16) offer a fundamental education to about 160 local pupils and students.
In spite of this comparatively comfortable general situation the islanders must defend themselves against the reduction of public service. The post office, the school, medical care and many other services can only be maintained if the commercial representatives, the island parish and families work closely together.

In the past twenty years Pellworm has made a name for itself with its concept of renewable energies. On our island wind, sun and biomass are used to generate energy and the renewable energy produced has already surpassed the need of the island by far. At present Pellworm could even provide the surrounding small Halligen and islands with renewable energy. Pellworm would also be able to aim at supply mains for renewable energies on its own.

The effects of climate change are a considerable challenge to our island which lies 1m below high tide level. Like in many regions affected the dangers connected with climate change are often played down or they are not perceived as an imminent threat. More raisings of dykes are being planned, but they don’t guarantee ultimate safety. Our innovative energy concept is aimed at the reduction of greenhouse emission and it is also meant to set an example for sustainable future oriented generation of energy on other islands and in other communities.

Agriculture is the basis of livelihood for many islanders. As long as our association Ökologisch Wirtschaften exists they have looked for ways to answer this question: How can the production of food and energy on Pellworm be brought into accord with our characteristic cultural landscape, the requirements of the national park wadden sea and the interests of the tourist industry?
In cooperation with the farmers who practise organic farming we have started various initiatives to achieve more successful processing and marketing of local quality products on Pellworm and on the mainland. Although there were some setbacks in the processing of milk and meat most farmers practising ecological farming have been able to gain a robust income.

In a small island community like Pellworm it is essential that communal public interests are put before self-interests. We should and will handle the characteristics and the natural landscape of our island with care. Accordingly Ökologisch Wirtschaften endeavours to find a realistic and sensible balance between the economic interests of each family, common goods and the quality of life.

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