Muff previously developed base maps for geographic systems, which became of interest to a Google company. After the sale of his company, Muff had the opportunity to take over the Haldihof in Weggis (Lucerne) – a small estate on a slope with spectacular views of Lake Lucerne. But the Muffs were not only looking for a new home and fresh air, they also wanted to do something meaningful. “We wanted to realise our visions,” says Muff in concise Lucerne dialect. His mission: the production of sustainable foods that could earn Switzerland’s organic “bud” distinction. No pesticides, fungicides or artificial fertilisers, and “20 percent of our property is left to nature,” Muff explains. This creates a habitat for insects, for example, which in turn take up the task of pest control. The disadvantage of this type of agriculture is “less yield and more work,” says Muff. Haldihof specialises in standard fruit trees, and products include vinegars, spirits, dried fruits, mustard and fruit spreads.
Muff masters and cultivates the art of preservation according to traditional methods. Even though today’s modern refrigerators naturally keep fruit and vegetables fresh, distilling and drying fruit have charms of their own. The passionate distiller sometimes tinkers with recipes for years until, for example, a new gin meets his high quality standards. “Tell’s Gin” is the name of his latest creation, which is based on an apple rather than a grain brandy. In addition, there are apple peels, bits and blossoms, as well as juniper, of course, and because legend has it that the path of Wilhelm Tell led to the Hohle Gasse via the Haldihof, this fine brandy is dedicated to the Swiss national hero. Muff explains that he felt comfortable in the city back then, and he feels comfortable here today. The best part about his new home, he continues, is his connection to his surroundings, his roots in the soil upon which he lives and works. “We are grounded, we live with nature, with the weather and with our animals.” The Haldihof population also includes alpacas, which are looked after by the Muffs’ 14- and 17-year-old daughters, while their 20-year-old son, in addition to his medical studies, maintains the family company’s website. The alpacas are, incidentally, natural lawn mowers, with eating habits that keep the steep slopes of the Haldihof trim without damaging the soil. Nature is the Muffs’ home, and it literally has many faces.