Biodynamic Farming - From Seed to Skin
“A farm comes closest to its own essence when it can be conceived of as a kind of independent individuality, a self-contained entity.” Rudolf Steiner, philosopher and founder of anthroposophy
Why and What is Biodynamic agriculture?
Biodynamics was the first modern organic agriculture. It’s development began in 1924 with a series of eight lectures on agriculture given by philosopher Rudolf Steiner. These lectures, the first known presentation of organic agriculture, were held in response to a request by farmers who noticed degraded soil conditions and a deterioration in the health and quality of crops and livestock resulting from the use of chemical fertilizers.
The 1920’s saw the dawn of biodynamics; an agricultural practice based on the concept of the farm as a living organism. Farms, or in our case, medicinal plant gardens, are viewed as complete ecosystems, taking into account the microcosmic elements of soil, plants, animals and humans and the macrocosmic elements of the sun, moon and planets.
A biodynamic farm/medicinal plant garden is self-sufficient. It endeavours to function independently of resources outside the farm, striving instead to cultivate nutrient rich soil without chemical fertilisers or, to use its own seeds and produce its own animal feed, all of which maintain a state of balance that benefits the whole farm. An essential part of this self-sufficient process, is composting as well as preparing and using what is known as the ‘biodynamic preparations’; potentised substance/materials derived from plants, minerals and animals, which stimulate living processes native to the soil. The gardeners use these various biodynamic preparations which encourage the composting process and strengthen plant resistance to pests and disease.
The results of such attentive agricultural practices are recognisable in the high quality, high vitality and rich nutritional content of biodynamic plants.
The biodynamic farmer actively studies the relationships between all of these, supporting through agricultural methods the way the elements of the macrocosm reality affect those of the microcosm. Detailed and methodological planting calendars are made by The Biodynamic Association which the gardeners use to guide them for conducive times to sow, plant and harvest by indicating the phases of the sun, the moon and other planets.
There are certification agencies for biodynamic products, most of which are members of the international biodynamics standards group Demeter International. Dr Hauschka’s medicinal gardens are certified by Demeter.
Dr.Hauschka Skin Care believes that the essential element of health and beauty begins in healthy soil. Healthy soil is the living foundation of the foods we eat and the high vitality botanicals in our skin care products. Healthy soil is the focus of biodynamic agriculture which produces plants of exceptional vitality. Dr.Hauschka Skin Care has a preference for ingredients that are biodynamically grown and transforms these biodynamic botanicals into pure, effective therapeutic products.
Dr. Hauschka Skin Care and Biodynamics Garden
In 1955, the local farmers sold a plot of land with heavy clay soil to our company founder Dr. Rudolf Hauschka. When he started to use it to create a medicinal herb garden, the farmers shook their heads in disbelief. Some may even have had a quiet chuckle. This made them all the more astounded when they saw the oasis that had grown from the clay after several years of work.
Inspired by the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner’s teachings, including biodynamics, to develop new approaches to homeopathic medicines and human health. The approximately 2.5 hectares of gardens that provide most of the botanicals used in WALA’s pharmaceutical and personal care products have been biodynamic for some 60 years.
Everything is done by hand …..We harvest in the early hours of the morning so that we can retain their full natural strengths.
From Seed to Skin
The biodynamic garden represents a closed cycle. We collect the seeds and use them to grow the next generation of plants. We regard the soil as a living organism. Plant waste from the garden and the production processes is put on our compost heaps. You could refer to these as the heart of the garden. Not only do they provide fertiliser for the beds but mature compost also helps to regulate and mediate the processes in the garden.
The huge range of species grown in the garden is certainly unique: more than 150 different plant species flourish here, ready to be used in Dr. Hauschka Skin Care and WALA Medicines products. The 2.5 hectare plot is continuously tended by six gardeners using biodynamic methods. Over time, these have made the soil fertile and crumbly. Compost created in the garden itself improves the soil’s structure and promotes the healthy growth of the plants.
Their leaves, petals, fruits and even roots are manually harvested all year round. Even the seeds that develop into seedlings for 25,000 young plants in spring come from the garden. Our medicinal herb garden is as closed a cycle as possible and also provides a habitat for wild plants and animals.In our garden, we allow medicinal plants to express their natural being as they grow. It really is a true oasis.
Fun Fact: Marigold petals for medicines can even only be picked by plant laboratory staff as these have very specific requirements with regard to the condition of the flowers: they must have already opened but not yet be in full bloom. Fortunately, our plant laboratory is located right next to our garden. The freshly harvested medicinal plants can therefore be taken straight there for processing.