Pronstorf is home to scarcely 100 people and is located on the south-western edge of the hilly area of Holsteinische Schweiz (literally: Holstein Switzerland), bordering the beautiful lake Wardersee. The aristocratic fiefdom dating back to the 14th century and the Vicelin late Romanesque stone church (built with local field stones) – first mentioned in documents by Pope Innocent III in 1198 – lend the village its idyllic character.
Gut Pronstorf comprises almost the entire village with its old gatehouse and large farm complex consisting of former barns, stables and accommodation for labourers and their families. The heart and showpiece of the estate is the manor house dating back to 1728.
It is one of Northern Germany’s most beautiful baroque buildings. Until the end of the 19th century, it was owned by the Buchwaldt family. For more than a century now, the zu Rantzau family of counts has been at home here. The estate’s concept is attracting more and more interest. Its Kuhstall (former cowshed) and Kutschstall (former carriage stables) have been redesigned and converted into a venue for social and cultural events. Since May 2010, guests can stay overnight at the gatehouse in 21 exclusively furnished rooms.
Pronstorfer Weihnacht (Christmas market) in the grounds of the estate has now become a tradition and Pronstorf has been one of the event venues of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival since 2004. In addition to agriculture and forestry, the estate also grows Christmas trees and ornamental foliage. The rental of flats in the estate’s buildings and the photovoltaic system on the roof of the barn are further sources of income for our business. ■
The agricultural business
Today, Gut Pronstorf generates income from a number of diverse operations. As has always been the case, agriculture and forestry are its largest undertakings. 650 hectares are used for growing crops such as winter rapeseed, winter barley and winter wheat. The highly efficient processes are handled by the manager of the estate and two apprentices. During the summer months, temporary employees help with gathering in the harvest, ploughing and re-sowing the fields. Agricultural contractors are also employed, bringing in special machinery on a grand scale at times.
The forests comprise 365 hectares and largely consist of beech trees. With a near to nature management the forests are cultivated in self depend by the count as far as possible. Lumbering, however, is carried out with the aid of contractors.
Livestock farming was once part of agriculture – not any more
Livestock breeding was once a matter of course at almost any Schleswig-Holstein estate. Horses, cows, pigs, sheep and poultry were all kept in the region. However, growing specialization – which has also impacted on the agricultural sector – has meant that farms have also had to focus on a specific area. Therefore, Gut Pronstorf ceased livestock farming in 1998. Only a pony called Strubbel, a horse and some free-range chicken now act as a reminder of the many different animals which were kept here once. ■