Ulrich Walter

Walter started his career with an apprenticeship as a shipping agent in Bremen, northern Germany, before being swept up in the turbulence of the ‘68 student movement. After training as a social educator, Walter worked in Bremen as a carer for young people with behavioural problems.

At the beginning of the ‘80s, he again started looking for a new direction. He discovered biodynamic agriculture and took over a small organic shop – initially as a side job. Based on his belief that enjoyment and taste are the best selling points for organic products, he looked for mouth-watering organic teas and coffees and founded a company. Lebensbaum (“Tree of Life”) is now a global supplier of organic teas, coffee and herbs. But that’s only one side of the story. Walter doesn’t just champion high-quality organic products, he also supports the people who produce them. He believes that farmers and workers should earn a fair wage and have access to good workplaces. As Ulrich Walters sees it, organic agriculture also has a social mission.

“When I founded my business at the start of the 1980s, I couldn’t source any organic black or green tea and I think there were only two organic plantations in the Darjeeling region. Of the two, Mr Bansal was the one who had first had to convince his father to let him grow organically – initially, he didn’t agree with it at all. I, too, had to convince the people around me. When I started to get involved with organic products, people saw me as an eccentric. In this sense, we had a shared destiny: it brought us together, somehow”.

In recognition of his business model, which weaves together ecological and social engagement, Walter was awarded the “Innovationspreis des Bundesverbraucherschutzministeriums” (The Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection’s Prize for Innovation).