Organic farmer Renzo Blumenthal has troubles because of a pile of stones that he moved.
“I’ve removed a lot of piles of stones and nobody said anything,” says Renzo Blumenthal (45) to Blick. The organic farmer and ex-Mister Switzerland is more than annoyed by the village trouble over a few stones. Since the story became public on Wednesday, his phone hasn’t stopped ringing. “Many farmers call me, who are just as annoyed about it, apparently there are no other problems here.”
That’s what it’s about: In September, the once most beautiful Swiss man moved a pile of stones on a property his family has leased for generations in order to be able to farm the land better. The pile of rocks covered with around 15 cm of humus, called “muschna” in Romansh, measures five by seven metres. “We’re talking about around 20 cubic meters of material here, which I moved around ten meters and integrated into an existing slope.”
“I didn’t destroy an ant colony”
The problem: he did not obtain a building permit from the responsible municipality of Lumnezia GR. “I had no idea it needed one, we’re talking about a small bunch that was moved, not eliminated.”
He also didn’t destroy an ant colony, as he says. “Rumours of this kind are total nonsense. It was a heap with a closed sod that was simply moved without damage, as all farmers have done, removed or moved for generations, it’s that simple. The fuss about a heap of stones is absurd. »
In the past, you didn’t have the machines, so there are still many on his land. He explains that he only did it now: “Now I had the courage. I already thought that this would become a regular topic, but I was surprised that it ended up in the press right away.” He doesn’t know who reported him to the community. “Maybe a neighbor, it has to be someone from here,” says Blumenthal.
Not the first village Zoff around Blumenthal
He has lived in Vella GR, the village of around 500 inhabitants in Val Lumnezia (in English: Valley of Light) since he was born. The Mister Switzerland of the year 2005 is known throughout Switzerland, he was long considered the most beautiful farmer in the country and markets his own organic products. Everything just envious? “Probably a few,” he says with a laugh and adds: “Most of them are very nice.” He runs a mountain landscape and has to comply with many requirements anyway.
The locals don’t want to use their names to comment on the subject. You don’t want to expose yourself. But everyone knew the cairn. “After all, he was within sight of the church,” says a walker with a dog. A construction worker says: «I can’t understand Renzo. Every farmer has some pile of rocks that he must keep. Renzo should also stick to it.”
It’s not the first time that Renzo Blumenthal has caused a stir at 1,200 meters above sea level. His pig fattening stank the whole village in 2007, there were 17 objections. It was said that one could hardly breathe properly. In 2011, Blumenthal won the dispute against his neighbors and was allowed to convert the cattle barn into a pigsty. Now he only keeps cows.
Mayor questions ignorance
What’s next? According to mayor Daniel Solèr (44), this is being clarified. “Since it is a pile of stones that is worth preserving, this is a case that will be decided at the cantonal level by the Office for Agriculture,” he says to Blick and adds: “It may be that Renzo has to transport the pile back to the site where he originally stood.”
Solèr questions the fact that Blumenthal did not know that he needed a building permit. “He was the construction manager at the time. Knowing this is part of the job.” The ex-mister only recently resigned for personal reasons, as reported by the Romansh television RTR, which was the first to publicize the case.
Both he and the mayor hope that there will be a peaceful solution that is right for all sides.