One woman, two dogs, a 1.2 hectare farm

Porträt Carolin Heinrich
altes Bauernhaus mit zwei Hunden

A year and a half ago, Carolin Heinrich, who works as a Digital Transformation Communications Manager in the Digital Accelerator team, fulfilled a lifelong dream by purchasing and expanding a farm.

ROUND. UM: You embarked on the biggest adventure of your life in 2022. Can you put it that way?

Carolin Heinrich: Probably [laughs]! I had been searching for a residual farm near Hanover for three years. The search became quite tangible in February 2022: I discovered an appropriate offer, signed the contract, and have since been the proud owner of a farm over 100 years old, in a condition befitting its age. The property encompasses 1.2 hectares of land, complete with a barn, stables, and an abundance of woodland.


Why did you buy the farm?

I aspire to create something enduring, a sanctuary for both people and animals. My dream is to ensure a fulfilling life for horses through an engaging stable concept. Additionally, I aim to provide a haven for other creatures, such as alpacas. Moreover, the concept of self-sufficiency captivates me —the ability to cultivate what one needs for living. Yet, the journey ahead is still extensive.


How did you come up with the idea of the active stable for horses?

My passion for horses is inherited from my mother, who managed a therapeutic riding center near Langenhagen, close to Hanover, for 45 years. My ambition is to establish a boarding stable that embraces an active concept. This concept involves a pathway connecting the stable and grazing areas, ensuring the horses get substantial exercise—potentially up to 12 kilometers daily—resulting in calm and well-adjusted animals.


Did the farm already have the prerequisites for such a concept?

[Laughs] No, not at all. Reviving the farm was a necessity: It had lain dormant for two years, and prior to that, it was solely operated by the former owner, an octogenarian overwhelmed by the workload in his later years. The brick house was in dire disrepair. Thus, restoring the 1,000 square meters of roofing became the most pressing task – a thirteen-month endeavor fraught with delays and halts in construction. Concurrently, I stripped the house to its bones – it's now time to methodically refurbish the interior, as I plan to construct seven guest apartments on the farm, which I am progressively developing.

Trecker auf der Baustelle

A mammoth task ... What were – or are – the biggest challenges in such a project?

To find good craftsmen (laughs)! The sheer size and complexity of the project are daunting, yet they have never intimidated me. Proper planning and a substantial acquisition of knowledge are essential to oversee such construction and evaluate the services rendered. It's crucial to handle setbacks without discouragement. Prioritizing effectively is vital, both on the construction site and in professional interactions, ensuring full concentration in all tasks. The greatest challenge lies in managing one's energy and avoiding overexertion. Thankfully, I am adept at recognizing my limits and adapting my actions accordingly.


You are part of the Digital Accelerator team at Melitta in Minden and drive the digital transformation of the group with your work. How does a 100-year-old farm fit into the future topic of digitalization?

There are plenty of parallels: just like my construction project, driving digital transformation is a marathon, not a sprint – it takes patience and persistence to make a difference. Our E-Commerce Convention, to which we as the DAT team invited in May to the BVB Arena in Dortmund, is such a milestone that hopefully gave the participants a lot of impulses. Apart from that, I personally find it incredibly exciting to see what is possible in the context of digitalization – and so I plan to digitally network as many tasks as possible later on. This starts with digitally controlled feeders and irrigation systems and does not end with video surveillance and smart homes. So it's going to be a traditional farm that's digitized through and through!


What would you like to see in your project?

In five years, I aim to have completed all my projects. My clear vision and thorough project planning drive me. Yet, finding skilled and dependable craftsmen is also crucial. Should you know of any reputable craftsmen between Hanover and Minden, I would appreciate your recommendation at your convenience.