Southern Rhineland Nature Park
Fruit trees as far as the eye can see
A sea of pink blossoms and delicious fruit: Visit NRW’s fruit growing capital near Meckenheim to the south of Bonn!
In springtime, the area around Meckenheim becomes surrounded by pink blossoms. Here, to the south-west of Bonn in the Rhein-Sieg district, lies the Southern Rhineland Nature Park, where the fertile soil and mild, sunny climate have allowed several generations to grow apples, pears, cherries, strawberries and blackberries. Year after year between mid-April and mid-May, the large fruit plantations and orchards cover the landscape in a beautiful sea of pink and white blossoms.
“Cologne’s fruit and vegetable garden”, as the area between the Rhine valley and the Eifel foothills has been called since Roman times, is the largest fruit growing region in North Rhine-Westphalia and the third largest in all of Germany. Many well-known varieties are cultivated here, but the fruit growers are also keen to retain or revive traditional varieties: anyone who visits the numerous farm shops in the region will find many varieties that are not on sale in supermarket chains.
Discovering the meadow orchards of North Rhine-Westphalia
The best way to discover the region is on foot or by bike, around Meckenheim on the 38-kilometre-long “Obstroute” for example, or on the “Alfterer Kunst- und Kulturlandschaftspfad Streuobst”, which has information boards with many interesting cultural details about fruit growing and the meadow orchard habitat along its ten-kilometre route. The meadow orchards are an absolute haven for wildlife – for birds, amphibians and small mammals, but especially for insects: the colourful blossoms produced by hundreds of trees provide an annual feast for nectar-loving bees.
Visitors who wish to learn more about the meadow orchards or explore the region as part of a group can join the “Streuobstwiesentour” (Meadow Orchards Tour) in Wachtenberg, which is organised every spring. Another option is to visit Meckenheim during the traditional “Blütenfest” floral festival and discover the region by bike, on foot or in a covered wagon, stopping at the orchard holdings and other farms along the way. As well as selling regional produce, many farm shops also lay on guided tours explaining how the fruit is grown and processed. At the Edelobstbrennerei Brauweiler distillery, the only fruit farm with distilling rights in the Rhein-Sieg district, visitors can taste a delightful drop for themselves.
There is a small fruit growing museum in Bornheim-Merten. Tractors, sprinklers and sorting machines are displayed in the farm buildings, while a wealth of information and photos relate the history of fruit growing and processing. One unusual exhibit is Germany’s oldest fruit refrigerator, dating from 1908.