How does WALA's collaboration with universities work?
Lorenz: Two of our colleagues also teach at the University of Hohenheim. We also maintain close contact with other universities, for example in Heidelberg and Regensburg, discuss scientific results, and share our knowledge and views. We have chemists, biologists and food chemists working on their PhD theses in our laboratory, like Lysanne and Marek. Or external scientists may ask if we can help them with their research by testing an extract for its components. We are convinced that this exchange of knowledge benefits our products. Our collaboration also gives us access to large-scale equipment at the University of Hohenheim, where we can have samples analysed or can integrate a substance or plant extract into further research.
Bunse: The entire concept is based on give and take, which is also why we publish our results on the internet and make them freely accessible. So that others can build on them. Apel: And, of course, we also work together with other WALA departments here. The experience of WALA gardeners in cultivating different plant species is particularly valuable for us scientists.
How do you reconcile research and sustainability? Is that even possible?
Bunse: We work with and from nature, cultivating plants in our own garden using biodynamic methods, avoiding chemical sprays, and farming in a way that leaves as much space as possible for wilderness. We have insects that work as pollinators, enabling us to obtain seeds that our gardeners can sow again. It is a closed cycle. This awareness continues within the company and in the laboratory. We try to recycle all the chemicals we use. And we are always asking ourselves how we can make material cycles within the company more ecological.
And how much of your work really ends up in the hands of the customers?
Bunse: Put simply, our customers receive nothing but first-class products. Not only in terms of the ingredients, but also in terms of the sustainable cultivation and careful production methods used. A great deal of knowledge goes into every product, each of which is based on the latest research. Customers feel good knowing that they are contributing to this.