For contract manufacturer Stern-Wywiol Gruppe, sustainable development, entrepreneurial activity and environmental protection go hand in hand. In keeping with this philosophy, the company has created a flowering meadow some 11,500 m² in size on part of its company site. The area behind Plant 2 is now home to numerous indigenous wild flowers, herbs, bushes and trees like hawthorn and pussy willow, providing a habitat for insects, birds and other animal species.
SternMaid was established in 1996 and has since become one of Europe’s leading contract manufacturers. With over 300 employees, the company offers a wide range of services. Besides manufacturing powdered food ingredients, food supplements and pharmaceutical excipients on a contract basis, SternMaid blends and processes special ingredients for baby food, vitamin mixtures, OTC and pharmaceutical products, and also foods for special dietetic purposes.
When SternMaid’s Plant 2 was built in Wittenburg in 2017 the design of the outdoor facilities was included in the planning. Following a suggestion by the company’s owner, Volkmar Wywiol, it was decided to plant a large part of the unused space with insect-friendly flowering perennials instead of just grass. Because of last year’s drought, hardly any of the plants developed as expected. But since this year’s spring brought more moisture, the seeds still in the ground were able to germinate.
In order to counteract the loss of honey bees, two hives with as many as 60,000 bees each were set up on the meadow at the beginning of June and are looked after by a beekeeper. The annual honey production is at present estimated at about 40 to 50 kilos. Both wild and honey bees are essential for agriculture and fruit-growing. They carry out as much as 90 percent of the pollination work and thus increase the yield enormously. But modern agriculture with its large-scale monocultures, and also carefully mown lawns and the increasing popularity of gravel gardens, are severely reducing their habitats and sources of food.
Nico Kobus-Prehn, a beekeeper employed at SternMaid, explains: “As processors of agricultural produce we wish to counteract this trend actively, so we are creating a new habitat for the species displaced by building Plant 2 and ensuring a continuous supply of food. We want to show that any company can make a valuable contribution to maintaining biological diversity.”
And Mark Riemer, SternMaid’s Commercial Manager, adds: “At the same time we are reducing the cost for the upkeep of a lawn and creating an attractive, green working environment. Besides the seating by the pond, we are now offering our employees an additional place where they can spend their breaks away from their workplaces. To ensure smooth operations we have taken the relevant safety regulations into account and also the possibility that some additional space may be needed in future.”