In his spare time, laboratory specialist Carsten Jablonski runs a farm with a friend. The Veenhof in Kalkar-Appeldorn specializes in animal-assisted therapies.
When Carsten Jablonski gets home from his job in the Mersol laboratory (Rhein Chemie Additives BU) in Krefeld-Uerdingen, his work is far from over. Instead, he still has work to do on “Veenhof,” a 2-hectare farm in Kalkar-Appeldorn, near the Dutch border. This farm previously belonged to the van Laak family – known for their high-quality shirt business. Built in around 1600 and purchased by Jablonski and his good friend Melanie Schmitz at the beginning of the year, parts of the property are still in dire need of renovation. “Sometimes I really ask myself why I am taking this on alongside my day job,” says the laboratory specialist with a smile. “But it is all for a good cause.”
Veenhof focuses on riding lessons for children and adults and animal-assisted therapy for people with disabilities. Schmitz, who is a trained equine manager and also chairperson of the “Gemeinsam anders in Vielfalt begegnen” e.V. (encountering diversity together differently), acquired the additional qualifications necessary for these latter activities several years ago. All in all, the farm is home to 30 chickens, 22 geese, 11 ponies and horses, four cats, two dogs, two goats and a pig. “It is wonderful to watch the people on our courses come to life when they are with the animals,” remarks Schmitz. By the way, the participants do not have to pay for the courses, as their health insurers cover the costs. The association is helped by about 20 volunteers. Jablonski himself has been one of them for many years.
Farm work is teamwork
When the property in Kalkar-Appeldorn came on the market, the pair quickly agreed that they wanted to buy and run it together. Schmitz, who is also on the farm during the day, takes care of the work with the animals and everyday tasks. Jablonski, on the other hand, is primarily responsible for maintenance and renovation work. “My boss, Uwe Gehrmann, is very good about letting me leave early, if necessary. However, I do make sure that these situations are the exception rather than the rule.”
Veenhof celebrated its official opening on April 18 and 19, with barbecued sausages, home-made waffles and lots of different activities for children. The pony riding and carriage rides were naturally particularly popular, but there was also great excitement about the face-painting and duck fishing. As Jablonski says, “I hope this has raised our profile and that we will soon be able to welcome lots of guests.”