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3/11/2009
Healthy skin care begins with a love for healthy soil
Healthy skin care begins   
   with a love for healthy soil

Calendula glows a radiant orange. The flowering plant vibrantly grows in Weleda’s biodynamic® Medicinal Plant Garden for reasons beyond the bright splash of color that it provides.

The biodynamic® gardeners of Weleda’s Medicinal Plant Garden are trained to work in harmony with nature, developing a keen understanding of the interrelationships within a complex ecosystem. They make every effort to create an attractive environment for numerous bird and insect species, creatures that are important for maintaining a stable equilibrium within the gardens. Healthy growth depends on healthy soil. The quality of calendula also depends upon this.

“Calendula is very demanding. It needs humus-rich, rested soil,” explains Michael Straub, manager of Weleda’s Medicinal Plant Garden in Wetzgau, Germany. As a result, calendula is sown every year on a different field. It is planted, for instance, where clover had previously been grown, because clover and other legumes enrich the soil with important nutrients such as nitrogen. The result, then, is soil ideal for the cultivation of calendula, which flourishes along with 250 other medicinal healing plants on 40 acres of land—where the use of chemicals is taboo.

Early every morning, Straub walks through the fields, checking the quality of the plants. In July, if the calendula flowers have opened with the sun and the morning dew has dried, the harvest begins. Watching the gardeners reach for the orange-colored blossoms with their trained hands is comforting. As each calendula flower is hand-picked, a resounding “snap” is all that can be heard.

Approximately 3,500 pounds of biodynamic® calendula blossoms are harvested every year in Weleda’s Medicinal Plant Garden.

“It is astonishing to see how fast and profusely calendula grows,” exclaims Straub. The plants continue to produce new blossoms throughout the warm summer months.

“The plants have the best quality and optimal vitality in the morning,” says Straub. This is why the gardeners must quickly harvest the vast number of blossoms before the powerful midday sun hits. Within about a half-hour of being harvested, the blossoms are then gathered in boxes, weighed and taken to the plant processing facility. Because the production site neighbors the Medicinal Plant Garden, the therapeutic qualities of calendula are preserved as much as possible for Weleda’s Baby Calendula Care products.

Special raw materials and gentle processing provide the basis for high-quality Weleda Baby Calendula Care products. “You can’t add quality,” says Markus Wetzel, who supervises the production of Weleda Body Care. Nor can Wetzel perform magic, and he doesn’t need to. A key to the production of Weleda’s body care formulations is that the entire production process is specifically tailored to the particular properties of the raw materials.

Weleda’s exceptional raw materials such as calendula, sesame seed oil and sweet almond oil are processed gently and responsibly. For instance, Wetzel does not use a disinfectant to clean the production facilities. Instead, he uses hot team, which destroys germs and bacteria just as effectively—without polluting the biodynamically grown raw materials. Doing without chemical cleaning agents and preservatives places extra demands on Wetzel and the entire production process.

The calendula blossoms are first bathed in warm sweet almond oil. Wetzel ensures that the blossoms are given enough time to release their active ingredients into the oil. The blossoms spend at least five hours in the 140-degree Fahrenheit sweet almond oil before the solution is cooled overnight and gently pressed the next morning—yielding the concentrated calendula extract. This is then used in quality products such as Calendula Oil, which is formulated and then immediately poured into airtight bottles that naturally preserve its properties.

The entire process—from soil to bottle—retains as much of the calendula’s inexhaustible vitality as possible. When the Calendula Oil touches the skin, the soil, the sun, the blossoms and all parts of the process continue their life, and one can experience the restoration inherent within the plant’s own cycle. During the winter months, the calendula seeds get a well-deserved period of rest. Then, at the beginning of spring, the gardeners at Weleda’s Medicinal Plant Garden sow the hook-shaped seeds in the field. A little later, vigorous life starts to appear. Soon, Weleda’s garden will once again glow with a radiant orange.