Chemistry is Nature, Too
UThe way he explains his garden, that provides the ingredients for the SOGLIO products, and his cultural environment, is how to understand these words. “We are part of this world, part of nature, we don’t stand next to it, but right in the middle.”
On the way to his sheep, Walter Hunkeler stops now and again, and points to flowers or insects, names them and explains their utilities and ingredients. St. John’s wort, achillea, zygaenidae… “The zygaenidae moth produces hydrogen cyanide, a chemical, to frighten off its natural enemies,” explains the biologist. He doesn’t understand why so many people discredit a product that has a chemical name on it. “All human beings have a spirit, they invent and develop good things. But then, these things do not count as natural anymore.” Without humans, according Hunkeler, there would be far less biodiversity in Bregaglia: “Human settlement in the Alps was an ecological gain.” Through the open areas created by clearing woods, new species have found a home in the Alps – and this biological diversity is thus a cultural consequence, contrived by humans. “Up here you live between wilderness and culture, there are foxes, deer and martens everywhere, even in the village.”
These thoughts are represented in SOGLIO-Products, starting with the first “Soliosan”. “Eventually, we had to decide how to make our living. When we spotted goat butter at a farmer’s market, which was used as a rheumatic ointment, we were immediately interested,” he tells excitedly about the beginnings of his enterprise. He knew he was going to improve this product.
Many Ideas and A Lot of Work
In the first few years, Hunkeler had to learn a lot. Not only about plants and cosmetics, but the whole economical aspect of an enterprise. “In order to buy the ingredients for our products, we needed to found an enterprise first,” Hunkeler remembered about these first years. Over time, the focus of the enterprise changed as they moved from medicine to cosmetics. More products were added, and in 2003, SOGLIO-Products became an Aktiengesellschaft. “My time, as well as my business partner’s, Martin Ermatinger, is over now. But I can safely say that we have great people that will continue our work with the same spirit.” He still has some ideas that he would like to see implemented in SOGLIO-Products, first and foremost his “Stone project”. “My idea is to create town fragrances and sell them in specially-made stone bottles – the stone originating from the individual towns.” He is still looking for somebody who can take on this project. Because the 65-year-old is already more than occupied with his animals and agriculture. “Of course, I love what I’m doing, but it’s still a lot of work,” he says with a smile.
Source: Bündner Tagblatt – September 2014