If you want to be happy for a lifetime, be a gardener.
Seems to be the case for Pierre Kappler, Head Gardener for Weleda France and Switzerland. He has worked in the 1.5 hectare biodynamic gardens in Bouxwiller, France for over 17 years.
Pierre grew up in gardens. As a third-generation gardener, he grew up in a greenhouse operation and was even born in the farmhouse on the private garden he manages today. He completed his apprenticeship in biodynamic agriculture 17 years ago in collaboration with Weleda and the Goetheanum.
4 gardeners assist Pierre to tend the gardens where over 40-60 medicinal plants are grown. These are harvested in the morning then delivered to Weleda where the production laboratories process the plants by the afternoon. This is why Weleda has its own gardens.
To make sure high quality raw materials are close to their production sites to guarantee the quality of the products.
As we walked through the gardens I interviewed Pierre for a green gardening book that is in the pipeline. I enjoyed talking with him so much I can’t help but share our chats with you guys too.
Walking and talking with Pierre Kappler
Head gardener Weleda France and Switzerland.
How is it for you being a gardener?
I couldn’t imagine making something else. It is natural for me to be a gardener. I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years. It’s in my family I am the third generation of Gardeners. I was born in the house in my garden.
All the Weleda biodynamic gardens are so different, why is this so?
The aspect of a garden belongs to the gardener. There is lots of creativity in it. It’s depends a lot from the gardener but the quality result is always the same. But the ways to do it is different.
What connects you to Weleda?
The producing of medicinal plants. The thought that I can help people to get healthy. this is the most important thing to me.
Where does your connection with nature come from?
I grew up with parents who always took us kids to nature. To the forest, to the mountain, skiing. I just grew up like this.
What makes the garden a living organism?
The different kinds of plants, insects, the biodiversity. We have lots of different animals as well as plants here. That makes it an organism.
What time of day is your favorite time of day in the garden?
Early in the morning, the sunrise, when nobody is here. sometimes when we dynamize horn silica you are all by yourself and you are looking at the sunrise, all is quiet. It is really special. That is my favorite time in the garden.
What are you looking forward to most?
What I like the most is when the season comes to an end in September. you feel satisfied because everything is harvested, everything is done. And you can lay back a little bit and that’s really nice. Because before that you were living with limitations, lots of work. In September, all is finished. You have already harvested everything and that gives a great feeling. Nature isn’t going to throw any surprises at me then!
What makes you happy and satisfied when you are in the garden?
To see how it grows. To see how everything is different every day. Every day you can see the life, everything is changing every day you can never be sure how it will be tomorrow. And that’s life.
What can we learn from the bees and the plants?
For me, personally it is to observe how everything changes each minute. That’s life, that evolution. It’s the same for us. You learn that you have to accept and you can observe this in the plants. They make it really obvious.
How do you save the fertility of the soil?
One part is the green manures. Then the fertilizing compost which we make with cow and goat manure. And the rotation of the crops. That means that we don’t have the same planet in the same place every year. We cross over the whole garden and in 5 years the plants come back to the same place.
What makes the garden special for you?
Every garden is special because it influenced by the gardener. This one is really different to the one that we have in Switzerland. It’s very different to the one we have in Germany. Every garden has its own identity and that’s what makes every garden special.
What biodynamic preparations should we use in all our gardens?
I think horn manure and horn silica are the most important operations. They allow you to influence the soil quality. With the horn when you are you can really help the soil to be alive. It will also improve the soil structure. and with the horn silica you can help the plants be stronger against pests and fungi too.
What can the garden be a role model for?
Improvisation is important – weather, or growth patterns aren’t usual. You have to be very patient, to accept when something goes wrong because you work with living organisms.
It’s a good way to observe how life works. That’s the most important thing for me because human beings are getting increasingly disconnected from nature. To make a little garden at home can help everybody to observe nature and see that we are a part of nature. We are not separated.
Do you have your own life philosophy?
My philosophy for life is to try to have the least impact possible on the planet. That’s why I choose to live without a car, to try to consume as little as possible, to have my own garden, to grow my own vegetables. That’s how I want to live, I don’t need to take plane every year to go somewhere, I am happy in my garden. I have a lot to do and this is how I like to live.
Do you have a message you would like to share?
I think it would be wonderful if people could come back to their relationship with nature. Because we are not separated from nature. Nature is in us and we are in nature. And maybe that’s something we have to learn again -even though modern life has a lot to offer, we are just two disconnected.
A huge thanks to Pierre for taking the time to chat with me and show me just one of his three garden masterpieces. I love the quote “A gardener is a person who believes in tomorrow’ and Pierre can’t be a better living example of this.
What do you grow in your garden?