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    Reap the Benefits of the Alpine Pasture: When the Dairy Becomes Sensory

    Something very special has evolved where man and beast have been spending the summers amidst lush nature for centuries: an environment bursting with energy. Valuable and healthy – for the soul and the senses.

    What’s so special up there for our physical and mental well-being? It’s the return to the original, the simple, the reduced. We are surrounded by clean air, clear light, and carefree ease. The fragrances of the meadows, trees, and herbs fill every breath. The tranquillity is accompanied by cowbells, the burbling of a stream or a gust of wind. The splendour of colours from grass green to sky blue delights the eye every second that we are away from the hectic pace of everyday life.

    Tales From the Pasture

    If you speak to people who have spent a certain amount of time on the alpine pasture, you quickly realise it’s this special high, triggered by the pure, the authentic, the reduced, that characterises alpine life. A dairymaid, alpine hoteliers, and a hiker reveal which lessons can be learned for life on the pasture.

    Malerische Alm

    I Don’t Need Anything on the Pasture and Have Everything

    Daniela Nuber: Dairymaid for a Summer

    "Every time I’ve been to the mountains I’ve felt the desire to just stay up there and not go back down into the valley. That was the reason why I quit my job one day to spend the summer working on the alpine pasture. What was the best thing about it? It was the little moments and the big picture. I don’t need anything up here and have everything. On the pasture, we are close to the animals, nature, the weather, and the mountains with all our senses. I love sitting on the wooden bench in the morning sun with a coffee, watching the animals graze and listening to the cowbells. The pasture teaches us that we need far fewer material possessions than we think to be happy."

    Daniela Nuber has documented her experiences in her book "Mein Almsommer" (My Summer on the Alpine Pasture) and on her blog (German only).

    Familie Pierer

    Learning What Life Is About

    The Pierer Family: Alpine Hoteliers With All Their Heart

    "The space, fresh air, nature with all its incredible facets: we want to show our guests how beautiful it is on the alpine pasture and how healing, relaxing, and comforting time out in nature can be. From hiking along Moor Nature Trail to watching the sun rise from the Hochlantsch, it’s the encounters that make the experience so special. When you come across a wild animal, you realise just how close you are to nature. We are very luck to live in a place that is surrounded by green meadows, wild herbs, and pristine forests. We humans often forget that the good is so close by and looking out across the seemingly endless mountain world makes challenges seem ever further away."

    The Pierer Family runs the Almwellness Hotel Pierer on the Teichalm in Styria.

    Hütte Lungau Pia Matkovits

    Time on the Mountain Is Balm to the Soul

    Pia Matkovits: A Passion for Hiking

    "The mountains are my retreat. They put everyday problems into perspective. When I hike from hut to hut, I can enjoy the moment – without my phone, without stress. There is a wooden bench in front of the door on almost every alpine pasture – and that’s my favourite spot. From here you can absorb it all: the view of the alpine meadow and the animals, the sound of the bubbling spring, the delicious smells from the kitchen, the people who come and go. The Austrian Alps are not just an impressive natural landscape, they are also a true cultural landscape, which we must preserve. That is why I like to do my bit and regularly help with the maintenance of the alpine pastures."

    Pia Matkovits is a student in Salzburg and Vienna. In her free time, hiking is her greatest passion.

    Did You Know …

    The Alpine Pasture: An Interplay Between Man, Beast, and Nature

    •                 Venetalm
    •                 Frauenalpe near Murau
    •                 Mountain pasture experience day / Millstättersee
    •                 Alpine dairy Stutzalpe

    10 Good Reasons for Spending Time on the Alpine Pasture: Does Altitude Make You Healthy, Happy, and Young?

    Meadow with Almrausch in the region Nockberge

    Medicine From Nature

    Univ.-Doz. Dr. Arnulf Hartl, Head of the Institute for Ecomedicine at the Paracelsus Medical Private University in Salzburg, and his team are researching the health benefits of a stay on the alpine pasture. "There is an incredibly high level of biodiversity and a diverse microbiome on the alpine pasture. We know that children who live on a farm are less prone to asthma and allergies", says Dr. Hartl. 

    But how come children who grow up on farms and alpine pastures develop better immune defences? The answer is simple, Dr. Hartl explains: "Our immune system needs to be exposed to a variety of bacteria – particularly in childhood – to develop and work properly against harmful invaders. If this doesn’t happen then it can turn on false enemies, which can result in allergies and autoimmune diseases."

    • Mountain Air: What Makes the Pasture Unique

      In the city, our immune system lacks microbiome biodiversity, the many chemical messengers and microorganisms that keep us healthy. A stay on the alpine pasture has even more to offer than this. Studies already showed years ago that the body is positively influenced at altitudes between 1,500 and 2,000 m, which can be seen, for example, in a lowered pulse, blood pressure or blood sugar and an activation of metabolism.

      A holiday on the farm or a hike to the pasture has a wonderful effect. The mountain air provides us with vitamin D. The volume of oxygen in the blood decreases with increasing altitude. The production of red blood cells increases, and fresh blood cells improve oxygen supply to the tissue. The alpine pasture literally becomes a health retreat – without even mentioning the uplifting effect that fresh air has on our mood.

    • Open Day and Night

      With around 8,400 agriculturally operated alpine pastures, Austria offers great variety: from herb pastures and elderberry pastures to cheese pastures and cattle, sheep, and horse pastures. We can partake in life in the mountain air from spring to autumn: the pastures are cultivated from May to September.

      When night falls across the pasture, when the air cools down and blows into the valley as a fresh breeze, the pasture reveals what it doesn’t have: light pollution and noise. The view of the stars is clearer and more radiant than anywhere below. The silence becomes as apparent as the dark of the night, tucking us in and promising a deep sleep.

      The alpine pasture – a discovery for body, mind, and soul; by day and night.

    There’s a Herb for Everything

    The special herbs on the alpine pasture have equally special names: alpine sorrel, motherwort, Speik, yarrow, arnica, gentian or houseleek. Beautiful to look at nowadays and put to good use in earlier times.

    •                 Arnica on an alpine meadow in the Lake Millstättersee region
    •                 Eyebright and peppermint in the Gastein Valley / Gasteinertal

    Authors: Corinna Meyer, Laura Elsayed, Monika Plank

    with help from Kurt Stelzer

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