Farmer/artisan, Reinhard Holzknecht, farms berries and mountain artichokes on his roughly one-hectare plot outside the village of Gand/Ganda in the Martelltal/Val Martello Valley. During the course of his 20 years in farming, his activities follow the seasons. Between April and November, he concentrates on the production of his blackcurrant and Ariona berries – and from end-July to November it’s the turn of the rare mountain artichoke. In winter, he turns his attention to handicrafts and decorative wooden objects made of local stone pine wood. Whatever the season, Holzknecht is entirely reliant on Nature for his creative experiments. As far as he’s concerned, even organic farming is excessively intrusive and he has come up with some innovative cultivation methods, such as growing nettles between the artichoke beds, to help ward off parasites.
Craftsmanship in solid wood
Reinhard Holzknecht’s handcrafted wooden artefacts are usually on sale at the annual Christmas Market in the Martelltal Valley. At an elevation of over 2,000 m, this makes it the highest altitude Christmas market anywhere in Europe. All Holzknecht’s works are one-off items and his raw materials are gathered on his lengthy hikes through the pristine coniferous forests of the Stelvio National Park. These include stone pine branches and tree trunks, as well as tree roots that he skilfully handcrafts into fine works of art and decorative Advent wreaths.
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