Our South-Baltic-Manor-project-photographer, Jan Rusek from Poland, also joined me on my tour. While we ate, Nicole’s daughter and her partner, as well as a kitchen help, were with us. The large community room, which has a few tables and a stunning kitchen island, is mainly used for meals. Each morning, guests of Folwark Jackowo can anticipate a delectable breakfast prepared by Nicole and her help. ”When Nicole was younger, she always made breakfast for us, even when she was still quite young. I liked to sleep in, so that ritual has stuck with her to this day,“ Anna recalls.
“I immediately felt at home, and it was crazy”
Before Anna and I sit down together to talk, she serves me a cup of black tea with milk. We speak German because Anna spent many years living in Germany. Besides, she worked as a translator for a grand farmer, which ironically paved her way to becoming a farmer herself. Since the early 1990s, she and her business partner Marek have been running an ecological farm. Anne laughs as she remembers: ”As a translator, I listened to all this talk about seeds, harvest, schedules, and machines. And so, by chance, I was trained as a farmer.“ However, she admits that she has never dreamt of living in the countryside again. ”My parents owned a farm, and I hated living there. All I could see was hard work, and it totally disgusted me.“ She eventually decided to return to Poland after becoming pregnant with Nicole. At the age of 25, she and her business partner Marek were given the opportunity to purchase 1500 acres of farmland, including an abandoned manor.
Although it still looks a bit like a ruin, a newly made roof adds to its lingering glory. Anna plans to turn it into a boutique hotel in the long run. She smiles in amazement as she recalls the beginnings of their adventure in Jackowo, probably about her own bravery-slash-naivety.
”When I first came to visit the place I had just bought, I looked around, and everything looked too shabby, truly horrible. It kind of scared me. But when I saw the manor house, it emitted a warmth I had never felt before in my life. I immediately felt at home, and it was crazy,“ she recalls, and I know exactly what she means. A crush on an old house can be inexplicable; however, bearing the burden of the high renovation costs with ease is hard to comprehend for an ordinary person: ”I don’t exactly know why I am doing it. But this strong feeling of needing to do it beats all kinds of rational thoughts that would otherwise hold me back and make me live an easy life in Italy. I know I somehow have to do it, and it has nothing much to do with my business.“
Nicole, her daughter who grew up in Folwark Jackowo, feels the same way. Although she is a trained veterinarian, she had no intention of working as one. Instead, she made her home her business. ”I simply desired to return and maintain a relationship with my family here,“ Nicole exclaims. As a result, she developed her idea of the perfect stay for guests, which stems from her own well-being at Jackowo: to simply enjoy yourself. She says, “That is why we have no spa or similar wellness offers. We don’t need to create a good time, and I think our guests appreciate it. You can go for a nice ride, or bike around, go to the beach, or sit on one of the comfy hanging chairs in the park and read a book.“ Nicole admits that, occasionally, it happens that guests cannot connect to the place. ”My offer is special; it is not for everyone. It is for outdoorsy people who like to interact with others. Those who will enjoy themselves the most here do not need to be entertained. They see the advantage rather than what has not yet been achieved. Whenever someone points out something negative about Jackowo, I just think to myself: ‘There is no place as perfect as this one.’“