The museum’s natural spaces
The Écomusée d’Alsace has been built on wasteland from what some 30 years ago used to be potassium mines. The museum contains a wide variety of green and natural spaces, spread over some 100 ha and including gardens, a river, fields and an orchard.
The old farmlands which have been reconstituted at the Écomusée d’Alsace cover a surface of 4.5 ha. They feature a protocol of analysis and evaluation of farming methods of the 1930s. They place our unit at a period when mechanised systems of mixed and stock farming using animal traction and 3-year crop rotation, with local and regional outlets, were at their peak. The aim is to produce data and note the results, both positive and negative, of experiments which can be used to develop the agricultural systems of the future. The fields, vineyard and orchard feature a 3-part, open-air theme-trail called the Theatre of agriculture, which was introduced in 2016.
Plants grown in the farming unit include buckwheat, mustard, sorghum, forage cabbage, turnips, Egyptian clover, rapeseed and hops. The land and crops are tended by Écomusée employees and volunteers throughout the year, depending on weather conditions. They use material and tools from the 1930s, including horsepower and antique tractors.
Museum animal life
Comtois draught horses, donkeys, cows and Vosges oxen, rabbits, goats, lambs, pink and black pigs, poultry (chickens, geese and turkeys) live right in the heart of the village. Our animals are one of the central features of everyday life in the museum. Go up to them and learn more about how they live.
The stork, the emblem of Alsace
The stork is the iconic bird of Alsace and after it almost disappeared from the region in the 1980s, a substantial effort was made to reintroduce it and the Écomusée d'Alsace was in the forefront of the operation.
The museum is now home to one of the largest stork populations of Alsace, with some 40 pairs.
The stork is a migratory bird, which lives in Europe during the spring and summer months, flying to warmer climes during the winter. The birds arrive in Alsace in early March, for the beginning of the nesting period. The chicks hatch in late April and early May and the storks leave Alsace around 15 August.
While you’re at the Ecomusée, you’ll be able to spot a number of nests perched on the roofs of the traditional buildings in the village. Each year, pairs of storks come back here to nest. The nests weigh an average of 500 kg and have a diameter of between 1 m 20 and 1 m 40!
The inventory of the natural heritage
The museum’s volunteer naturalists are often to be seen around the village, drawing up the inventory of the living natural heritage. The inventory has shown what a remarkable biodiversity the museum enjoys, with some 3500 species listed by June 2016, including wild and domestic species in the habitats in and around village (fields, wasteland, forest and marshland).
All findings are sent to ODONAT, the office of nature data of Alsace and the data are used to chart the impressive lists of plants, fungi, birds, mammals, insects, frogs, toads and reptiles that populate our grounds.