CISTERSCAPES and SKIVRE – Monastic landscapes and their influence on monastic products

Today a joint conference of the European projects CISTERSCAPES and SKIVRE starts in the monastery Schulpforte / Germany. “Cisterscapes – Cistercian landscapes connecting Europe” is a transnational cooperation project on three levels: academic, municipal, and civic. “SKIVRE –  Skills Development for the Valorisation of European Religious Heritage is a contribution to the preservation of the European religious heritage and is developing a training program for monasteries that wish to successfully (further) develop and market monastic products. The interface of both projects is the monastic use of landscapes, and so the conference reflects the theme of the monastic landscape from different perspectives. More than 60 representatives from European monasteries as well as landscape development are registered for the event – online and on-site in Schulpforte.

Monastic landscapes are a special case of the historical-cultural landscape. As such they are a special expression of European identity. According to the landscape understanding of UNESCO and the European Landscape Convention, the cultural landscape is a joint work of man and nature throughout history. Cistercian monastery landscapes reflect, for example, the forms and techniques of land use and settlement policy of the Cistercians, their adaptation to natural conditions, and spiritual guidelines. Without landscape conservation and use, monastic products would be inconceivable because wine and beer production characterize landscapes and without the cultivation of herbs and medicinal plants, many monastic products such as medical products, spices, and personal hygiene products would not be possible.

SKIVRE partner Lilian Grootswagers from Future for Religious Heritage will present the keynote with many references to the ambitions of SKIVRE.

SKIVRE coordinator Dr. Karin Drda-Kühn (media k GmbH) and SKIVRE partner Dr. Matthias Wagner (Bronnbach Monastery) offer a joint workshop on the following topics:

Karin Drda-Kühn: “Development + Schools: Qualification for marketable monastery products”.

Matthias Wagner: “Marketing + selling: Quinces, Honey and Herbs: Monastery Shops as a Reflection Surface of Historical Monastery Landscapes”.

The workshop is based on the findings and results of the SKIVRE project, which has been developing a qualification programme for monasteries since 2018 to support them in the development and marketing of monastic products. The aim is to generate income from the sale of high-quality monastic products, which will benefit the preservation of monasteries as an important European religious heritage.

The interactive workshop starts with the most important characteristics of monastic products and will show numerous examples to illustrate how these needs are met by many people – and how they are abused by the market without fulfilling basic promises of authentic monastic products.

Using the example of the monastery shop of Bronnbach Monastery, it will be shown which considerations were taken into account when creating an authentic product range and how these considerations ultimately led to the establishment of a so-called “quince trail”. The quince and its products are part of monastic life and are currently receiving new attention after having led a shadowy existence in orchards and on shop shelves for many years.  Matthias Wagner, managing director of Bronnbach Monastery, will discuss the path he had to take in order not only to develop a product but also to anchor it in the context of the monastery.

Karin Drda-Kühn presents the SKIVRE learning platform with training units, good practices, videos, a guide, and a background publication on historical crafts from monasteries. In her contribution, she also draws a bow to the economic potential that monasteries and their products can develop in regional development and in the preservation and creation of jobs. Participants will be invited to log in on the platform and experience the many features interactively.

Please have a look at the overall program here.

(Our title picture shows the Cistercian monastery Birnau at Lake Constance in Germany.  Picture credits: Pixabay CC)

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