Grovni Foundation: History






Deutsche Version


Name of the Foundation:

The name of the Foundation is based in the pedigree of its founder and is a nickname in the family. The first documented male ancestor was called Ruodolf de Grovnivelt. He testified on parchment sealed on 19 November 1282 a dispute over land in the County of Sargans (today the "Sarganserland" is part of the Swiss Canton of St.Gallen). The family probably came during the Alemannic land acquisition in the wake of the Counts of Montfort in the still by Rhaetians populated Sarganserland and received Grovnivelt as a fief. Grovnivelt still exists: today it is the hamlet Gruenenfeld above Wangs on the slope of Pizol. The place name probably comes from the Old German word "grunen/grovnen" for "to clear". This is an indication that this place was cleared to build a reinforced settlement. The settlement was important as a relay station for alerting crews of friendly castles. The strategically well located castle Sargans had for topographical reasons no direct visual connections to its sister castles of the Montfort family in the Rhine Valley. In addition, the Counts of Sargans needed followers on the trade route from Zurich-Walensee to the Grison passes, which proceeded to the castle on the opposite side of the valley, slightly elevated above the marshy plain.


Brief presentation of the founder:

Hans-Peter Grunenfelder, from all acquaintances by his first name initials "Hape" called, born 1946, ethnozoographer and graduated engineer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology with a Master in rural development. Former honorable functionary of WWF-Switzerland (chairing the regional WWF in Eastern Switzerland), he has been concerned with the issue of agrobiodiversity since the end of the 1970s. In 1982, he founded the Swiss Foundation ProSpecieRara and managed it until 1995. For that he got 1987 the Binding Acknowledgment Prize of the Principality of Liechtenstein. After the fall of the iron curtain he established, together with his friend Pavel Beco, 1991 an office in Prague to co-ordinate rescue actions for endangered breeds and seeds in Central and Eastern Europe. This was one of the leading events to the establishment 1993 of the European umbrella organisation SAVE Foundation (Safeguard for Agricultural Varieties in Europe), where Grunenfelder was a main actor. In 1994 he directed the SAVE Co-ordination Office in St.Gallen, which was transformed into the SAVE Project Office in 1996. In 1995 he received the Chorafas-Prize from the Swiss Academy of Natural Sciences (100'000 CHF = Euro 80'000, together with Prof. Jakobsson of Iceland) for his outstanding work for the in-situ-conservation of rare breeds and seeds. With the formidable amount of this prize he started the "Monitoring Institute for Rare Breeds and Seeds in Europe", which was consciously cross-border working in Europe. This was one of his main occupations until the end of 2010 when the Institute - in the frame of his partial retirement - was incorporated into the SAVE Project Office. From 2000 (until 2014) Grunenfelder was also in the Board of DAGENE (Danubian Alliance for Gen-Conservation). At the end of 2014 he withdrew from the operative lead as executive vice chairman with SAVE Foundation (full management for 21 years on a honorable base) but is still in the Steering Committee of the Board. With ProSpecieRara he is also still an advisory capacity in the Board. In his retirement, he is not only active in the aforementioned Boards, but advises and supports inter alia the Alpine-wide network Pro Patrimonio Montano, and smaller and larger nature conservation projects.

On his 65th Birthday on 29 December 2011 Hape Grunenfelder etablished the family foundation Grovni. It should continue his life's work to conserve species diversity and the cultural-historical heritage in an appropriate way and support his concerns also in future.




Grovni Foundation
Schneebergstr. 17

CH-9000 St.Gallen