Blossoming trees, meadows splashed with color, and juicy fruit – traditional mixed orchards are a little paradise right on the outskirts of our cities and villages. Here, plants, animals, and man live in a mutually dependent symbiosis. It is a world of its own, that turns with the rhythm of the seasons. A carousel of life – with no beginning and no end.
Hundreds of years ago, man created this unique cultivated landscape to enable him to grow fruit in large quantities while using the fields to raise livestock. Over time, these orchards have become a widely varied habitat, home to a countless animal, insect, and plant species. The old fruit trees offer nesting places for almost every species of bird, the many types of grass, flowers, and herbs attract insects while underground there are multitudes of field mice – welcome sustenance for foxes and birds of prey. Migratory birds return to the traditional mixed orchards every year as the conditions here are ideal for breeding.
Only with the help of man can traditional mixed orchards be preserved. From pruning the trees at the end of winter and mowing the grass throughout summer to the fruit harvest in autumn - man creates change all year round in the orchards, shaping the lives of its animal inhabitants as he does so. It takes a lot of work to care for and cultivate these orchards, and the return is uneconomical compared to ordinary, commercially-run orchards. Today, traditional mixed orchards are among the endangered biotopes in central Europe.
The film is a ride on the carousel of life that is never-ending in the orchard. As the seasons change, we experience the interplay of nature, man and animals. Each depends on the other – and observing this miniature world, we gain an impressive perspective on the principles of life. We accompany typical orchard dwellers like the nuthatch, field mouse, the squirrel or the deer throughout the year, experience carefree, astonishing, and poignant moments, and watch the eternally fascinating dance of life and death. These encounters create an awareness that traditional mixed orchards are much more than an obsolete agricultural anomaly. As an essential part of European heritage, they are above all a valuable habitat for our indigenous and fascinating animals, insects, and plants. The last remnant of the Garden of Eden.