It starts with a shock. Turmoil, hectic, slight panic. The organizer quickly pulls out the phone – but on the other hand, nobody takes off. A group of 22 men maul. What happened? The reason for the shock: The growling men between 25 and 35 years are participants in a dome festival of the online dating market farmer flirt for German and Austrian peasants * – and only one woman has appeared on Flirtwochenende.
"Most people are drawn to the city" The day actually starts off in an idyllic way. Late autumn is so golden that the dense spruce forest in Upper Austria near the Czech border glitters in the sunlight. Red-yellow-orange leaves fall on meadows and paths. The air is fresh and still warm for October. Perfect circumstances to conquer hearts. Actually. Photo: David Needy "There are mainly dairy farmers here," says the taxi driver, who grew up in the region while driving the car over the streets winding up to the hotel. "But there are fewer and fewer, most of them are drawn to the city." The Flirtfest takes place in a single hotel with pool and spa area, which the residents of the villages like to use – but only alone, because in the hotel applies : Couples forbidden, fall in love desirable. The book contains the book The Art of Traveling Alone instead of a Bible. Why is agriculture so daunting? The first impression suggests that it is not good for the love life of the farmer. Why does it need its own and similar flirtation for farmers? What about agriculture scares women and men so much that even those who are originally interested do not appear? And what does that mean for all the single farmers?
Answers and disillusionment can be found on the Alm. Eleven registered participants are as if swallowed from the ground. The plan to find the better half on this October weekend now seems hopeless for the farmers. The sting is deep. Because the shock at the beginning of the Flirtfest is emblematic for the situation of the peasants in Germany and Austria. They know the partner's lack too well and experience again and again how rural exodus, misconceptions of agriculture and a poor appreciation of their profession make the search for life companions to torment. "In the past, a farmer enjoyed a much higher reputation." The growling of the participants is only ebbing slowly. "Punch and Judy" is here and there to hear, or a "tomorrow I leave, has no sense". The resignation of the farmers is noticeable. Nevertheless, everyone stays.
Photo: David NeedyFranz, 31, loves swimming and loves nature. A cozy guy with a three-day beard. He speaks shyly, but friendly. Franz runs a pig farm in Austria. At the Flirtfest, the young farmer was happy, because there are "several potential partners to choose from and a personal contact and exchange". Of course, Franz had expected more women, but "unfortunately they are a bit shy". He sighs. It was due to the lack of appreciation for his job that the search for a partner was so difficult: "In the past, a farmer enjoyed a much higher reputation."
, Farmer is looking for a wife, scares off many.
Photo: David Needy Robert de Herzog, also a nice fellow farmer next door, straightens his sunglasses and strokes his washed-out blue jeans. The 35-year-old towered over the other participants with just under two meters and agrees with Franz: "I think that agriculture has lost some of its value in certain areas." But some young customers from the cities would come to him today in part, who have an awareness of quality products, like to shop regionally and be prepared to pay slightly higher prices.
The partner search does not make that easier. Robert, who studied environmental and bioresource management and then returned to the parental Rinderhof, has been looking for a partner for three years on various dating sites. Unsuccessful. Before that he had some relationships, but they were short-lived. The reason for separation was often agriculture. "The interest of women has always disappeared quickly." Also on ze.tt
This farmer is growing her vegetables in shipping containers
Just why? Robert puts the lack of appreciation on a false and extreme image conveyed by agriculture. "TV broadcasts like Bauer seeks to scare off many women," he says. Women mistakenly believed that men had to work nonstop and had no time. Or that they could not lead an independent life and could not work for themselves. Farmer is an exhausting job, says Robert, but like all other jobs have advantages and disadvantages. "At the weekend, of course, you also get up in the morning and feed the animals. For that you have the peace and the nature in which others spend their holidays. "
Alcohol helps to calm things down. Farmers feel that they do not have the most attractive or up-to-date job. The unsuccessful search for a partner depressed – and shows that an analog Flirtfest especially for peasants makes sense. If more women had come.
A hike with Hunter Otto, also called Schnapsbrenner, brings grateful variety. The mood loosens, because the hunter has a couple of home-made schnapps. Breathe. In the subsequent beer tasting the first glasses are emptied quickly and at the latest after the third whistle beer is laughed again resounding. Relief. What was intended as a flirtation, matures for a men's evening including archery and sauna. Even women in rural areas still have problems finding partners in the middle of it all: the hen in the basket, the only flirtatious female participant. Sarah *, 34 years – medium-sized, black hair, denim shorts – grew up on a farm in East Germany, lives in Bavaria and prefers to read her real name nowhere. "When I first saw guys, I almost disappeared into the bathroom and never came back," she laughs at the initial shock. "But then my name was already called and it was too late." Although the others are all "very nice", but for them was not "the right one". Also on ze.tt
Car sharing in the country is not possible? This village shows: Goes!
Also for a woman in the agricultural sector the search for a partner is complicated. Nine of the eleven Flirtfest-deniers came from the agricultural sector, three had their own farm. Sarah grew up on a farm in East Germany, but she simply found no partner. For men from other areas, life in an agricultural business was often unimaginable and other farmers expected her to move to their farms. Therefore, Sarah left her parents' house, moved to Bavaria and became a pastry chef to be less local. Agriculture still likes them and still hopes for a partner from the field. Photo: David BedrftigAluchtflucht: Three-quarters of Germans live in cities As a major problem for dating in the country Sarah identified the rural exodus. "Young people are moving to the city because they are fed up with rural life," she says. "There is no bus or suburban train in the country, no disco, few sources of supply and fewer potential partners." indeed more and more farms. From 2013 to 2016, the number of livestock holdings fell by eight percent and those of pigmeat producers by as much as 18 percent. Some potential partners may not want to have anything to do with agriculture, even out of fear for the future. In Bavaria, for example, the urban population is growing. If the ratio at the turn of the millennium was roughly balanced, 6.9 million people already lived in the Bavarian cities in 2017 and 6.1 million in the countryside. In East Germany, the rural exodus is even greater and in total, more than three quarters of people in cities are at home in Germany. Photo: David Needy Later in the evening we will go to the hotel's own alpine pasture. Rustic wooden counter, beer tables with flower covers, cowhide covered stools, stag antlers on the wall. In addition to getting used to Schlager-Pop and even more beer, female hotel guests now also join. The farmers smell their chance. But years of denials have not just boosted farmers' self-confidence. And so it takes a few courageous people to make their first attempts. Deeply rooted in the countryside Franz and Robert have not lost hope yet. "I'm convinced that I can find the right partner, also in the agricultural sector," says pig farmer Franz. The women should just dare more. Robert also laughs when it comes to dating: "I do not even sit in front of the computer every night and look at 1,000 women." In his opinion, a fairer and more correct picture of agriculture in the media and more understanding of farmers would be very helpful. Also on ze.tt
"Bye-bye, I'm moving to the countryside!" Young people flee the city
At any rate, Franz and Robert do not want to give up their professions and move to the city. Too much depends on them and their businesses, they have invested too much, too many roots have beaten them. And the job in nature and with animals is just fun. But it is also a value decision: Generations have already led their farms in front of them, their parents have put their heart and soul into the companies. They expect Franz and Robert to take over, as is customary in the country.
Sometimes I feel alone.
The quiet country life may seem romantic for city people. On the ground, it causes serious problems for young people. The dating difficulties of the farmer symbolize a traditional industry that is undergoing major changes, fewer and fewer people offering a job and thus becoming increasingly unattractive. Farms close, large agricultural companies dominate. Thanks to modern technology, the proportion of people working in German agriculture has been steadily declining since the beginning of the twentieth century, with increasing productivity. If it was 38 per cent 100 years ago, it now accounts for just under two per cent. No happy ending for Franz and Robert. They return home empty-handed to their farms. Again. Back to the animals, back to nature, the supposed idyll. "I'm always looking for a partner for life," says Sarah, pausing. "Sometimes I feel alone." The search continues. * Name changed by editor