The Hofgemeinschaft Heiningen (“Farm Community”) at Heiningen, Braunschweig, existed from 1982 to 1993. It was situated in farm buildings belonging to a former monastery. At the end, it had a membership of 28 adults and children.
Foundation, aims and businesses:
The community was started in the former “Klostergut” (monastery farm) with the aim of working and living together and also to conserve and use the protected buildings in a sensible way. Various enterprises and jobs were started, including a seminar centre, bio-dynamic farming, natural forestry, gardening and landscape gardening, a carpentry and joinery workshop, a stone workshop, a building firm and cultural activities.
The communards lived in small living groups, pairs and families. Some lived on the farm as singles. They met daily to eat and had a weekly plenary meeting (plenum). The various enterprises had regular meetings, as did discussion groups. Decisions were made in consensus by the adult members at the plenary meetings. All members had equal rights.
The problem of ownership:
During the existence of the commune the land and buildings remained the property of one member. At the start he had the idea of making the estate property of the commune by passing ownership on to a non-profit association. This association was, in turn, to pass the ownership on to all the communards who lived and worked there. The communards saw this process as necessary for the development of the community. At the start of 1993, it became clear that the owner was not going to put his stated intention into practice. He did not want to give up the ownership and the power that it confered on him. The other members of the commune were not willing to work or live in structures which were heirarchical, and felt themselves tricked by the owner. They split from the owner and left the farm. An attempt by the group to develop a new project in another place did not succeed.
Description of the Hofgemeinschaft Heiningen by ex member in “Das Kommunebuch“, Verlag Die Werkstatt, Göttingen 1998.
(Pages 28 / 29)
Some of the activities started by the commune at the Klostergut Heiningen continue under private ownership. They include bio-dynamic farming (Demeter products), cheesemaking, a farmshop and various craft courses.