The Herzapfelhof is an organic fruit farm with an attractive touristic offer. Visitors experience how fruit is cultivated and harvested in harmony with nature.
The "Altes Land" is the largest fruit-growing area in northern Europe. More than 18 million fruit trees are cultivated there. Because of the unsteady earnings from fruit harvest the farmers had to find a second mainstay most of them in tourism. Nearly each fruit farmer sells parts of his harvest in their own farm shop. If you want to stand out of the mass you have to develop a unique product. That's what Hein Lühs did by putting a heart-shaped stencil on an apple during the ripening process. The "Heart-Apple" became a brand. Furthermore, the production changed from integrated cultivation to organic farming. Today master fruit growers Hein and Rolf Lühs explain during a guided tour of the fruit farm or an apple express ride through the courtyard how to work on the "Herzapfelhof". The experience includes a walk through the heart-apple garden, a tour of the modern apple sorting machine and storage rooms. The whole fruit-farm became an experience-farm for visitors who can taste fresh fruits from the tree by purchasing a so-called "Naschkarte", having a picknick under the fruit-trees, getting a one-year-sponsorship for a tree and harvesting their own tree. Even firms can hold their meetings on the Herzapfelhof. You can also buy the fruits online. The main actors are the Lühs family and their employees. The tourist-information in the district is involved too, as they inform about the different tours and book them for their guests. They get a commission fee for the booking.

Resources needed

10 employees plus the owner-family. During harvest additional support is needed. The farm has two businesses, the fruit growing farm and the trade, each supporting the other. I.g. if the fruit harvest is weak due to weather, the direct marketing is essential to help selling.

Evidence of success

This practice is considered to be good because people get in touch with fruits and learn a lot about its cropping. The change of production helps to save the environment and to prepare the "Herzapfelhof" for the future.

Difficulties encountered

Standing out of the mass by creating the heart-apple and establishing it as a brand.
Climate Change and the impact on the farm.
Constant change and adaption due to competition with other farms.

Potential for learning or transfer

We consider this practice as being potentially interesting for other regions to learn from because the "Herzapfelhof" managed it successfully to focus on one main product in marketing. Although they offer different fruits (e.g. cherries, pears and plums) they mainly communicate the "heart-apple" which is their unique selling product. They combine on- and offline marketing for their fruits and put them into stories.
Two generations are working hand in hand for the success and the survival of the fruit farm taking under account the standards of organic fruit-farming. They try to preserve the environment and its necessary biodiversity.
Main institution
Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Senate Chancellery
Hamburg, Germany (Deutschland)
Start Date
January 2021
End Date


Tanja Blaetter Please login to contact the author.