Organic Farming and Sawmilling in the Swiss Alps

Reader Contribution by Wood Mizer

“My name is Heini Hutter. I live on Mount Rigi in Switzerland and run an organic mountain farm with goats, cows and sheep. I have been here for 10 years now. The farm is unique, because you can only get to it by taking the mountain railway or by hiking up the trail.”

“On the mountain, I have 3 hectares (7 ½ acres) of my own forest, but without any road access, I was limited to only producing firewood from it – until now.” 

In order to interview Mr. Hutter, we packed all our gear onto the train and began the ascent of Mount Rigi. Known as a “cogwheel” train, the train rests on tracks like any other, but has an additional gear that is attached to a cogged track between the two smooth ones. The gear locks into this cogged track, pulling the train up the steep mountainside railway to the summit of Mount Rigi.

Mr. Hutter’s only option for supplies and timber to use on his farm was to arrange for it to be brought up by the train. The train, full of tourists from all over Switzerland, Europe, and beyond, would accompany his timber to his farm, the timber would be unloaded, and then the train would continue to the top of Mount Rigi.

“I always need lumber here. The stables and the old house always need repairs and improvements. I looked around at a few different sawmills, got a good price for this LT15 and bought it.”

Now Mr. Hutter no longer has to obtain timber from the town below and arrange for transport. He can sustainably harvest his own trees according to his needs.

“Sawing was something completely new for me. I have always found it fascinating. Whenever I saw a sawmill running, I enjoyed watching. Just the smell of fresh sawn timber is amazing.”

“When I first bought the sawmill, I had no real knowledge about sawmilling. It has been an excellent investment for me.”

“I live alone here on the mountain, and town is a ways away. I need that distance. I have a beautiful panorama and I can see the whole world, and the same time I have some distance away from it. I really enjoy that. I don’t feel like there are many disadvantages to living here – otherwise I wouldn’t be here, right?”

The Wood-Mizer Team includes a diverse group of woodworkers, farmers, homesteaders, arborists, entrepreneurs, and more who are excited to share their knowledge and experiences of working with wood from forest to final form. Since 1982, the team has brought portable, personal sawmills to people all over the world who want the freedom of sawing their own lumber. Find Wood-Mizer on their websiteFacebookInstagramYouTubePinterest and TwitterRead all of the team’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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