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    • Blün / Vegetable and fish producer from Vienna
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    Experts for sustainable aquaculture and fresh vegetables from Vienna

    blün – this the combination of blue and green (“blau” & “grün”), of fish and vegetables. These are also the colours of sustainability for the founders of the Viennese start-up blün. Behind this business, which is devoted to aquaponics, an innovative recirculation system, are four young farmers with a vision.

     

    These are the four visionaries from blün

    “We are completely convinced that quality, in conjunction with the protection of our oceans and the climate, as well as with consideration for our grandchildren, is the key for the future.”

    This is the creed that the four founders of blün, Gregor Hoffmann with his friends Michael Berlin, Bernhard Zehetbauer, and Stefan Bauer, have committed themselves to.

    Since 2016, they have been farming fish and vegetables at the edge of Vienna. And because they love good food just as much as innovation, they work with a state-of-the-art farming method, aquaponics. “‘Aqua... what?’ – I get this question a lot when I talk about our business,” laughs Gregor Hoffmann. “It is actually an ancient system of recirculation that farmers have been using for centuries, when they utilise the manure from their animals to make their fields more fertile. We do the same when we use the water from our fish as fertiliser for our vegetables.”

    Blün / Vegetable and fish producer from Vienna
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    The “side effects” of aquaponics techonology and philosophy are appreciated by the restaurateurs in the Austrian capital as well. blün’s fish as well as vegetables can be found on Thomas Hahn’s menu, owner of one of the city’s top restaurants, Labstelle in Vienna’s first district: “The tomatoes, the wels catfish, and the perch absolutely won me over with their quality and remarkable taste.”

     

    A conversation with Gregor Hoffmann

    We are four fathers who want to use our abilities to make a contribution to making the world better for our children and grandchildren.

    Gregor Hoffmann mit Snackpepper
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    Gregor Hoffmann
    austria.info: Where did you four get the idea for your start-up and aquaponics? Was there a kind of epiphany?
    Gregor Hoffmann: Before blün I worked as a “tomato whisperer’” – a consultant – for international high-tech companies involved in vegetable production for 15 years. That’s also where I met Stefan, Michael and Bernhard [the other founders of Blün]. In working together, we discovered we had many things in common and became friends. We are four fathers who want to use our abilities to make a contribution to making the world better for our children and grandchildren. When we asked ourselves how we could implement these ideas in our sector we had the brilliant idea of taking the traditional technique of recirculation and transferring it to the modern age in order to raise fish and cultivate vegetables in a sustainable and resource-efficient way for the city of Vienna.
    austria.info: Do the tomatoes – or, as the Viennese say, “Paradeiser” – from blün taste different than tomatoes from Italy?
    Gregor Hoffmann: No, but we place importance on growing tasty varieties like beefsteak and oxheart tomatoes. We have a lot of customers who say: “These tomatoes taste like the ones I remember from Grandma or from holidays.”
    austria.info: What is that humming sound in the greenhouse by the tomato plants?
    Gregor Hoffmann: Those are our bumblebees. Unlike normal bees, they stay in one place. They are responsible for pollinating the tomato, capsicum, and aubergine plants in the greenhouse.
    austria.info: At blün, nothing goes to waste. This is why you use leftover tomatoes to make ketchup, which is available at shops like Wein & Co in Vienna. Tastes great, by the way. You also focus on small markets. Why?
    Gregor Hoffmann: In recent years there has been a noticeable trend of people becoming interested in health and nutrition. And they want to know where their food comes from. They prefer shopping at small markets and corner stores. Even butchers add our fish to their product range. By the way, vegetables and fish from blün can now be found on the menu of 50 restaurants in Vienna.
    austria.info: blün produces their goods in a sustainable manner. Sustainability is also connected to thoughts about future generations. Why are you so concerned with sustainability?
    Gregor Hoffmann: I’m obsessed with quality. I find it fascinating how the vintners refine the grapes from the vineyards and then talk about notes of lemon or cinnamon. I am completely convinced that quality, in conjunction with the protection of our oceans and the climate, as well as with consideration for our grandchildren, is the key for the future. We are a small manufacturer with precisely this ambition. For me, this is blün.
    austria.info: You live in a city that is among the most liveable in the world. What do you like about Vienna?
    Gregor Hoffmann: What I like about Vienna is that you live in a big city with lots of green space. My family and I live in the 18th district – in Vienna’s “green belt” – and spend a lot of time in the Türkenschanzpark and in the Pötzleinsdorf palace park. From here, it is also only a stone’s throw to the Schafberg or to the Vienna Woods. Since my wife is an architect, we like looking at buildings, like the “Zacherlfabrik”, a former rug factory. They used to use a substance made from chrysanthemums as a moth repellent. This is fascinating for a plant expert like me. My job never really lets go of me. I find inspiration for my work everywhere.

    Sustainable business practice

    Aquaponics: a promising model for the future

    When fish farming and vegetable cultivation are joined together in a closed circulation loop, this is called aquaponics. It is a sustainable, innovative technology in which no water is lost. Vienna’s piped-in mountain spring water, in which the fish swim, is turned into liquid nutrients for the plants in the greenhouse: tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, and aubergines.

    The water is permeated with natural fish waste that supports the vegetables in their growth and contains neither heavy metals nor environmental toxins, as the fish – wels catfish and perch – are raised indoors and are thus also free of these harmful substances. In this closed-circuit system, nothing is lost, and everything is utilised.

    Fische von Produzent Blün
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    Labstelle Vienna. “Food with no frills” is how this restaurant in Vienna’s city centre describes its cuisine. Essential for its culinary creations are high-quality regional and seasonal ingredients. Labstelle is one of many high-end restaurants in which fish and vegetables from blün are popular selections.

    Where you can find blün products in Vienna

    •                     Blün / Vegetable and fish producer from Vienna
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      The blün farm shop

      Right at the farm shop in Vienna’s 22nd district, you can get everything from the blün product range – from Viennese fish and fresh vegetables to a few unusual items such as blün ketchup.
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    •                     Naschmarkt Wien
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      blün at small markets

      Fish and vegetables from blün are also available at small markets and a number of shops in Vienna.
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    Parks, woods, and vineyards

    Vienna: One of the world’s greenest cities

    Vienna has been voted the world’s most liveable city multiple times. There are countless reasons for this – one of them is that over half the city is covered with green spaces. Wherever you happen to be in Vienna, the nearest park is never far away. Expansive parks and nature conservation areas, the Vienna Woodsvineyards, and the Danube area are a pure delight for nature lovers.

    It is no wonder that 456 species of bees make their home in Vienna as well – more than in any other European city. Another thing that’s good to know: the Viennese drinking water right from the tap and from drinking fountains in the city is pure spring water from the Alps – and one can taste it.

    Green Prater
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    10 tips for discovering green Vienna

    •                     Lainz Animal Park
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      Hiking in the Lainzer Tiergarten

      Wild boars, deer, salamanders: experience the wonders of nature in this conservation area on the western edge of Vienna, extending over nearly 2,500 hectares. Loveliest vantage point: the “Wiener Blick”.
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    •                     Das Strandbad an der Alten Donau mit 1 km langem Strand.
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      Excursion to the Alte Donau

      Whether you’re into cycling, rowing, or paddle-boating: the Alte Donau is a recreational oasis for water lovers – with a view of the skyline of Vienna.
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    •                     Botanical Garden at Universtity of Vienna
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      Marvelling in the Botanical Gardens

      Located in the middle of Vienna, the gardens contain the rarest and most curious species of plants. They are also home to over 130 wild bees.
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    •                     New Danube with Kahlenberg and Leopoldsberg
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      Pleasure biking in the Lobau

      If you enjoy biking, you can do this for hundreds of kilometres along the River Danube, including in Vienna’s Lobau area, part of the Donau-Auen National Park, where you might even spy some kingfishers.
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    •                     Vineyard of the Cobenzl Winery with a view of Vienna
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      Vineyard hiking on the Cobenzl

      A number of hiking paths lead past several wine estates and Viennese city vineyards and offer beautiful views.
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    •                     The Giant Ferris Wheel at the Prater
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      Having a picnic in Vienna’s Prater

      Lying in the shady grass with a view of the giant Ferris wheel and snacking on sausages or nuggets of cheese: all this is possible in the picnic field at Vienna’s amusement park.
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    •                     The palace gardens of Schloss Schönbrunn in Vienna
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      Schönbrunn Palace Grounds

      Enter the palace grounds through the Hietzinger Tor and then wander up to the right past the zoo to the Gloriette, where you are rewarded with tremendous views over Vienna.
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    •                     View to Vienna
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      Danube view from the Leopoldsberg

      The “Nasenweg” (“nose path”) meanders slowly up the Leopoldsberg. When you pause to catch your breath, enjoy the extraordinary views of the Danube below.
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    •                     Steinhof Church (Kirche am Steinhof)
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      Steinhof grounds

      The recreational area on the west side of Vienna is great for kicking back on the grass or taking a stroll. The Otto Wagner Church is an architectural masterpiece.
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    •                     Monument of Johann Strauss / Stadtpark Vienna
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      Strolling through the Stadtpark

      The city’s oldest park lies on the Vienna River, right next to the city centre. It boasts numerous monuments and sculptures – as well as a pond with ducks.
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    Dining in green Vienna

    • To the “Heurigen” on the Nussberg

      The Nussberg is known as the “sea terrace” above Vienna. In addition to the great view, the Wieninger wine tavern offers Viennese wine and delicious “Heurigen” fare.

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    • Schutzhaus am Schafberg

      Hearty Viennese cuisine that changes with the seasons: this and the rustic atmosphere make for pleasant hours up on the Schafberg.

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    • Landtmann’s Bootshaus

      This family restaurant lies directly on the Alte Donau and serves up delicious fish, snacks, and drinks. The best time to come is sundown.

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    The harvest of art

    The famous paining 'Summer' by Arcimboldos from his 'Four-Elements' series can be admired in the Kunsthistorischen Museum.

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