Arnica Day 2015

By Ali, Marketing Manager at Weleda

Thursday 16th July 2015

Working at Weleda is a privilege. I have the enviable job of working in the Marketing Department of a brand that makes products I love, is 100% natural and ethical and has given me some unique opportunities.

This last week alone I have participated in a customer open day that Weleda ran with The NGS (The National Garden Scheme) where I had the pleasure of meeting nearly 500 people who came to see our 13 acre production gardens in Derbyshire and listening to all the stories about how people know, use and love Weleda.

Today I was invited to spend the day in our production department, not very exciting you might think, until you realise that it was Arnica Day!

Once a year, we have a delivery of arnica from a lovely Biodynamic Gardener called Duncan who has been coming to Weleda since 1987. He is based Scotland’s Black Isle, a special place where the arnica grows very happily at the higher altitude and in the colder conditions (than the Weleda Derbyshire Garden). When we receive the phone call to expect him, everyone gets very excited… probably everyone apart from Duncan himself, who has the mammoth task of driving and stopping to water the plant en route to our Derbyshire production site. So this year I decided to get involved and see what the anticipation was about.

Claire and Alistair, two of our lovely gardeners emptying the water from the boxes before passing them to production, I was glad to be behind the camera

The day started with a van full of 10 kilo boxes of arnica very un-glamorously parked in our underground entrance to the production site. I loved seeing all my colleagues gathered around the van waiting for the doors to open. It was certainly worth the wait and I wish the pictures did the beauty and smell justice. What a lovely start to the day watching a very happy gardener hand over his well-loved plants to the Weleda Gardening team, who were in awe of the beauty of these plants. I was unsure at one point of Duncan was going to hand over the last of the plants!

Claire our Head Gardener taking deliver before handing the beautiful plants to Felicity in production

After all the plants were in the clean area and Duncan had been wished a safe journey (and furnished with some lovely products from our shop), the process of turning over 150 kilos of arnica into a tincture to be used in our UK products began. I joined the gardeners and stood and watched them transform from people who love the ruggedness of being outdoors into people in white coats handling the arnica.

It felt quite surreal seeing each plant lying on a silver table awaiting its turn to go into the shredder, but the smell alone was worth the visit.

It took well over an hour to shred all the arnica and I felt very privileged to watch this beautiful plant being handled with such care and respect. I think asking our gardeners to finish the growing and begin the 1st stage of the production process is fitting as they get to see the plant through all the stages.

The next step involved getting the calculators out as the ratio of ethanol and water to the arnica plants was calculated (organic grade ethanol is used to extract the medicinal properties from the plant during maceration) and the process of stirring the three ingredients together began. It seemed strange to see a garden fork in the huge vat.

Gary, our Production Manager, then came to find me and informed me that his excellent scheduling meant that the day the Arnica was due, he was also completing the production stages of two arnica products, I think coincidence may have played a part, but who was I to complain when I was about to get a three for the price of one tour - tincture making, Arnica Bath Soak bottling and Arnica 30c tablet production.

This is the lovely Arnica Bath Soak being filled which I could have watched all day. I loved seeing the product going into the bottle and even offered to help on the production line, although I was too slow for the machine!

Next I was taken to the tablet suite and saw the last few bottles of Arnica 30c tablets being put into bottles.

Gary then took me back to see how the first stage of tincture making was going, but not before giving me a gift of the Arnica Bath Soak and insisting I had my picture taken in my overalls and hairnet!

The gardeners had been very busy as they were now at the final stage, the arnica vat was full and the lid was about to be put on. It is now left for two weeks to ensure that all the active ingredients are captured and will be stirred every few days whilst this is happening.

I think I behaved myself today as I have been invited back to see the next stage in a few weeks’ time.

Today has been very special for me, I know our Arnica range of products well and how effective they are. I think fondly of them as I know our customers love them and they are very helpful at times of aches, pains and over-exertion. My favourite in the range is our Arnica Bath Soak, I love to use this after a long dog walk and it helps with all the bumps and knocks I am getting from my new puppy.

Tomorrow sees the launch of a NEW product to the Weleda Arnica range, Arnica Sports Shower Gel. I'm so excited about this product, particularly as it contains rosemary and lavender which are two of my favourite ingredients and aromas. Myself and some of my colleagues have been trialing it and it is already a firm favourite with us all. The scent is so refreshing and light and it feels perfect for this time of year to refresh sporty bodies whilst leaving hard working skin lovely, smooth and supple. I gave the gardeners some to try today and I will look forward to their feedback and to the next stage of my arnica journey in a few weeks’ time.