The basics 📝
Where is Ponderosa? How do I get there?
Ponderosa is an art-centered place, spread out over a 3-hectare area, in the village of Stolzenhagen, in rural eastern Germany. You might want to check our information about how to get here, or take a look at our contact page, or read more about us.
Ok, what’s the place like?
Ponderosa is a place for community living, and a place for artistic, cultural, and social exchange. This means that it is not a hotel, and we do things together — nobody is going to clean up your mess after you, and we all collaborate on making things happen. It has its own unique atmosphere, particularly in the summer, which is the busy part of the year. Want to know more about us?
Do I need to be an artist or a dancer or something like that to be able to go to Ponderosa?
No! Absolutely not. We welcome all people, from all walks of life, who come here for myriad reasons. All you need is curiosity and openness.
What kind of food is there at Ponderosa?
In the summertime, Ponderosa’s famous kitchen creates three meals each day, for everyone who is here. All the meals are freshly cooked by our kitchen team, and served buffet-style in our common kitchen and bar area. We offer mainly vegetarian cuisine (though there are occasional barbeques with meat). The menus are decided by the chef, which means that they vary a lot (as we have several chefs over the course of the summer). Our cooks come from all over the world, and their cultural and culinary backgrounds inform and inspire what food is served.
As much as possible, we try to make use of the food that we grow ourselves in the Ponderosa garden, and we endeavour to use all-organic ingredients. Where possible, we also use food produced by our neighbours in the village.
Can I have vegan food? Or gluten-free, lactose-free, or nut-free food, or food that accommodates other allergies or dietary restrictions?
Short answer: yes, more or less. All special diets, allergies and choices around food are always taken into consideration by our lovely chefs in order to create a balanced menu for everyone. Generally, we check in around once a week to ensure that we have an up-to-date list of all dietary requirements. If in doubt, ask the chef or one of the Ponderosa team.
What about breakfast?
Ponderosa has a long and noble history of serving millet (or, properly, The Millet) for breakfast. This is served steaming-hot in the middle of the buffet table, surrounded by all the other breakfast options — cereals, bread, fruits, nuts, meats, cheeses, yogurt, spreads, fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden, and freshly-brewed coffee. Vegan options too? Yup.
Where do I stay?
Most visitors to Ponderosa stay in the Ponderosa Guest House (the same building where the kitchen and bar are — also occasionally known as the Speicher).
The guest house offers various accommodation possibilities, dependent on your requirements, budget, and desires. There are dormitory sleeping areas, and also private rooms (single and double). Each private room has its own unique character and style. Aside from this, there is also the possibility to stay in a cabin in the woods, or in a caravan, or to pitch a tent in the garden and sleep there.
All of the details about accommodation are explained in greater detail on the page about accommodation at Ponderosa.
Do you have private rooms?
Yes. The Ponderosa guest house has private rooms. Additionally, if you require a larger private room with further amenities such as en-suite bathrooms, these can be provided by the Taubenblau Seminar House, which is a ten-minute walk from Ponderosa.
Further specifics are available on our page about accommodation at Ponderosa.
Can I camp?
Yes, it is possible to camp in the garden, during summer months. We have a designated area for tents, which is close to the kitchen, showers, and studios. We do not rent or sell tents or any other camping gear — you must bring this with you.
And, as above, further information can be found on our page about accommodation at Ponderosa.
What about showers?
There are various showers — some in the house, some in the garden. Among them is one larger shower (the one out in the garden with two cubicles and a big angled wall) which is solar-powered. It gets really hot on summer days. It’s pretty cool to have a sun-sourced wash after some intense movement or full-on workshop, and then walk straight out of the showers and into the flowers. 🌺
Internet and phones 📱
Is there internet? Will my phone work?
Yes. We have an area for people to use the internet, in our co-working and office space, about five minutes away from the main house. You can come here and use the wi-fi.
We request that, on weekdays, you try to use the internet in the evenings and not during the day, as otherwise it can occasionally interfere with the running of the office, which is in the same space.
If you also want to do regular phone calls from your mobile, please bear in mind that we’re close to the German-Polish border, and so your service provider may switch between German and Polish networks. Check your roaming deal for how this affects you. You can also try to get a German SIM card for the time that you are here. Generally, though, it can be somewhat cut-off out here. It can also be a good idea to inform your family, friends and co-workers about your absence beforehand.
We also have a phone in the office — however, apart from emergencies, this is used for office work by the staff, and not available for private use.
Can we come too? 👶
Are children and families welcome at Ponderosa?
We welcome children and families here! Please get in touch with us in advance if you need special accommodation or care and we’ll see what we can do for you.
Is it possible to have a babysitter at Ponderosa?
Sometimes, yes. In the summer, we are happy to help you try to connect with someone who can babysit for you, but you should contact us in advance with the dates of your stay and your needs. We will try our best to find a good solution, but we can’t promise that it will be possible to arrange babysitting.
Are dogs welcome at Ponderosa?
We don’t have a strict policy on dogs — it depends on your dog, the time of the year, and our schedule. Please bear in mind that Ponderosa is busiest in the summer, with a lot of people sharing the space, along with our neighbors (who have pets of their own). So, if you would like to bring your dog, you should consult with us in advance, and take full responsibility for its behaviour, and ensure the safety of both your dog and everyone else sharing the space.
Countryside living 🌺
What’s the weather like?
It depends on the time of the year! It can get quite snowy and cold in winter, fresh and soft in spring with birdsong in the air, hot and sunny in the summer, and a riot of colour as the leaves fall in the autumn. It can also be unpredictable, with summer thunderstorms or bursts of warmth in November. Check online before you arrive, and pack accordingly!
What things will I need to bring with me?
You should be prepared to deal with the countryside. Some outdoor equipment will probably be helpful — a torch, a raincoat, boots, suncream, warm clothes, things like that. If you are intending to camp during your stay, don’t forget your sleeping bag and sleeping mat — we cannot provide them for you!
(You also might not regret bringing silver-lamé bodysuits, powdered wigs, platform boots, and neon underpants, but it’s your call.)
Is there a pharmacy nearby?
If you require any medication, the nearest pharmacy and the nearest hospital are both 15km (10 miles) away, so please make sure that you pack any medical supplies that you might need.
What about health insurance?
If you are a non-German EU citizen, you should make sure that you bring your European Health Insurance Card along with you while you are staying with us. This makes everything much easier for you (and for us!) if you might need to go to see the doctor while you are here.
If you are a non-EU traveller, you should ideally have some form of travel or health insurance for your stay, or else you may be required to pay upfront for any costs related to health issues.
Are there mosquitoes or other insects?
Ponderosa is located in the countryside, so we are surrounded by nature, with all its creatures, both charming and annoying. So, yes, there are insects. Some years are better or worse for different insects, but we’ve made it through them all. If needs be, you can bring mosquito repellent spray or cream. And, generally, we all sleep in beds with mosquito nets during the summer.
Apart from that, one other kind of insect that we do occasionally deal with are ticks. They are no fun, but they are usually easy to remove if you get bitten by one, and we’ve been dealing with them for years. We give a more detailed explanation of how to deal with tick bites during every arrival of new groups of people and opening circle — during the summer, that means around once a week.
How busy does it get?
In the summer, there can be anywhere from 20 to 100 people here at any one time, depending on what events are taking place. We also share space with our neighbours, as part of the larger Genossenschaft community of Gut Stolzenhagen. We always strive ensure that we respect and co-exist with our neighbours and our surrounding community, and we ask for your understanding and engagement around this during any time that you spend here.
Who are the neighbours? What is this Genossenschaft?
We have many neighbours, of all ages, both in the Genossenschaft community of Gut Stolzenhagen, and in the wider village. It is very important, when living in a community, to respect privacy. We ask that you help us with this.
As mentioned above, Ponderosa is one part of Gut Stolzenhagen, which is a Genossenschaft, a form of landowning co-operative. This means that the collective owns the land, and the members of the Genossenschaft commit to renovating and improving the buildings that are on the land. If you’re interested in knowing more, we can explain the practical workings of the Genossenschaft community in more detail in person.
Can I use a bike?
Yes! There are bikes here that you can use, in exchange for a small rental fee. We work hard to ensure that our bikes are well-maintained, and so in order to cover the costs involved in this ongoing maintenance and repair work, we rent the bikes on a sliding scale, depending on how long you would like to use them. You are also welcome to bring your own bike.
How does the garden work?
The gardens in Ponderosa are the result of many years of ongoing work by many people, and they provide much of the food for our kitchen. Over the growing season, the gardens provide us with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables, along with apples, various herbs, and even edible flowers. If you are interested in working in the Ponderosa garden, take a look at our information about jobs and work exchanges at Ponderosa.
What is it like nearby? What sort of surroundings are there?
Ponderosa is located in the Nationalpark Unteres Odertal (Lower Oder Valley National Park) - Germany's first riverside meadow national park. We are surrounded by fields, lakes and rivers. Many types of birds and wild animals can be seen throughout the year. While out on a walk, you might catch sight of many, many different species of fish, birds, mammals, and more, including the dam-building beaver, the white-tailed eagle, the black stork, the aquatic warbler and many more.
More immediately, Ponderosa is located in the small village of Stolzenhagen, on a small hill just above the town.
Can I go swimming?
Yes! The closest place for swimming is the canal, which is a five-minute walk away, but there are also plenty of beautiful lakes nearby that you can reach on a bike or longer walk.
How close are you to the nearest town?
The nearest town is called Angermünde, and it is approximately 15km (10 miles) away. This is the location of the nearest train station, and is our main connection to Berlin. For more on how to get to Ponderosa, check here.
Are there any bars or restaurants nearby?
Not really. In summer, there is a small Imbiss in the village, where you can get a typical German meal and a beer. Further afield, there is a small family-run restaurant and café in the nearby village of Lunow, which is around a twenty-minute bike ride away along the canal.
Are there shops nearby?
The closest shop is also in Lunow. For larger shops, supermarkets, bakeries, banks, and a post office, you will have to go to the town of Angermünde, approximately 15km away.
What studios are available?
Ponderosa has four available studios, along with myriad outdoor and small-scale spaces for exploration and transformation. The studios are:
Is it possible to rent the facilities?