Lena Jacobi

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From the organic farm to agricultural policy

Growing up on an organic farm in East Westphalia with dairy cows, seed propagation, a farm cheese dairy and direct marketing, organic farming has been with me all my life. After graduating from high school, however, I had to take refuge in the farmyard. After a cultural voluntary service, various internships in the Bundestag, NGOs and on farms as well as two semesters of political science, I finally decided to go into agriculture. I started studying in Göttingen (agricultural sciences). The curiosity for controversial discussions and a lively bar life attracted me. But even after half a year, I still hadn't really arrived there.

Lena Jacobi - BSc Ecological Agriculture, graduated in 2018. Currently: Master's student, employee in the Witzenhausen regional office of MdL H.-J. Müller.

Witzenhausen - everything was different here

On the recommendation of Onno Poppinga and through contacts with the young Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (AbL), I finally arrived in Witzenhausen. We were welcomed on the first day at the university by students of the older semester with a supposed "study introduction", where we were introduced to abstruse initiatives and university subjects that were supposed to shock us. The message at the end of the production was sung together by the whole lecture hall around us: "Don't be fooled, don't be fooled!". I realized everything was different here. That first day at university still moves me today.

My first semesters were a mixture of study club, lecture hall and "doing things myself," accompanied by constant uncertainty as to whether studying was really the right thing for me. In addition, the farm succession on my parents' farm was coming up soon. The question of whether I really wanted to do that (back to the home village, cowshed, away from friends...) finally became superfluous when my younger brother decided to take up agricultural training and was immediately hooked. He has been the farm manager since July 2020 and I am very happy about that.

After I had overcome the first hurdles of basic studies, I discovered the social science field for myself. Now I had the impression that I had finally really arrived at my studies. Reading texts that actually interested me, discussing topics that really moved me.

Looking beyond the horizon

At that time, the Documenta in Kassel was also coming up and I attended a seminar in Kassel with friends on the topic of "business start-ups". As part of the seminar, we planned a fictitious project: a kiosk during Documenta that would bring together the themes of agriculture and art. Six months later, our wooden kiosk with a raised-bed garden around it was standing in the middle of Kassel on the university grounds. For 100 days we offered cheese sandwiches and discourse on the subject of agriculture. Prof. Dr. Herzig accompanied the project with a series of events organized by students. The interdisciplinarity in Witzenhausen, the thinking outside the box, has always excited me.

During Documenta, I applied to the Kunsthochschule in Kassel for a second degree. Here I spent the following winter in the field of visual communication. After I finished my bachelor thesis, I moved back to Witzenhausen to complete my master's degree in ecological agriculture. I highly recommend taking a look at the other departments at the university in Kassel.

Study and work in Witzenhausen

My parents were involved in agricultural politics, so I had early contacts with the AbL. The need to get involved in agricultural policy was consolidated in Witzenhausen. Here I took part in meetings of the young AbL and helped plan conferences and campaigns. During my master studies I attended many seminars in the field of agricultural policy and took part in numerous excursions to Brussels, Berlin and Bonn. But I also found the courses in the livestock sector enriching for the understanding of conflicting goals that exist between animal welfare and environmental protection. Prof. Dr. Jürgen Heß also conveyed a view of the big picture in his lively seminars with great commitment and passion.

When it became clear that I did not see my future in practical agriculture for the time being, I looked for a plan B. I found it shortly after the state parliamentary elections. Hans-Jürgen Müller, a long-time organic farmer and advocate of organic farming, unexpectedly moved into the Hessian parliament and was looking for staff for his regional office in Witzenhausen. I have been working here since the beginning of 2019 in addition to my studies and am responsible, among other things, for research on agricultural topics, participation in professional events, public relations and the organization of a working group on agriculture. For me, the job was and is a real stroke of luck. I am very grateful for the exciting insights into the political process at state, federal and EU level and the opportunity to work in Witzenhausen. I have never regretted my decision to come to Witzenhausen. In addition to many friends, a great love and a beautiful place to live, I have found a professional direction here that fulfills me very much.

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