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The "GmüesEsel" (vegetable mule) from Bern

Bern is surrounded by nature, the "Green Belt". The "GmüesEsel" brings 200 kilograms of vegetables and fruit into the city every week on cycle route 888, which connects the communities around Bern over 59 kilometers and is part of the city’s local recreation area.

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Nature chauffeured into the city

The "GmüesEsel" is actually called Thomas Wieland. He lives and works on the "Biohof Gumme" organic farm in Thörishaus, just 15 kilometers outside the Swiss capital. He and other nature enthusiasts grow fruit and vegetables in an extremely natural and sustainable way on 8 hectares of land. Every week, Wieland rides his ebike briskly and greenly into the city to sell his food at the market in Bern or to deliver it to his customers. It is not only how the "GmüesEsel" – as Wieland calls himself, by the way – gets around that is sustainable, but also what he transports on his trailer.

Driven by muscle power and passion

From seed to finished product, Wieland deliberately keeps the nature of its production small scale. Everything is processed using the simplest possible tools, solar-powered machines and, above all, with their own muscle power. The former engineer also created the "productive fitness center" in the well-known Länggasse district, where workout fans can ride two bikes, a cross-trainer or a rowing machine to power Wieland’s machines: a mill for the production of polenta and durum wheat semolina or an oil press for the production of various cooking oils. Admission is free, and you can take away about a quarter of the amount produced in your own containers.

Bern’s Green Belt

The "GmüesEsel" sells his produce, among other things, at the weekly market in the old town, which is incidentally a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you can feel what Bern is all about: close to nature, sustainable, charming. The slower pace of life is in the air everywhere: "There is a pleasant atmosphere in Bern. The city is never hectic," says Wieland. People treat each other with respect, take time for each other and show consideration for nature. Few visitors are aware of the closeness to nature and the sustainable lifestyle that many Bernese locals lead. Cycle route 888, the "GmüesEsel’s" commute to work, is also rarely on the lips of the typical Swiss person. Yet it would definitely be worth a trip on foot or by bike with the leisurely route leading over gentle hills and along the Aare river. It offers cool shade on wooded sections and spectacular views of the Bernese Oberland’s summits and Lake Wohlensee.

With the “vegetable mule” on the Bern Green Belt – Cycle Route 888

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None of it is packaged

From the organic farm to the market or to the packaging-free shop.

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The old town shop buys Wieland's goods

Thomas Wieland delivers his produce to Palette, a shop selling unpackaged goods.

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Back to a simpler life

From the organic farm via the “Bern Green Belt” into the city and back again.

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