On Monday, 6th March, 150 of our valued Sapling Spirits customers left the Big Smoke and came to Kidlington to take part in one of our famous Sapling planting parties. For various reasons that aren’t worth dwelling on, we haven’t been able to host a planting party for a while, so it was especially rewarding to see the coaches pull up laden with bar managers, chefs, restaurateurs and mixologists wrapped up warm and ready to dig and dance.
On-trade and on-brand.
This was Sapling’s second large-scale planting party (there are lots of smaller events throughout the year). By inviting our on-trade customers to get involved, we give them the chance to get to know more about our brand, our people, and, of course, our drinks. There’s a lot more to us than great British sustainable vodka and gin; our parties invite people to get their hands dirty, let their hair down and, we hope, become clued-up ambassadors not just for Sapling Spirits but also for our wider message of climate positivity.
Time for trees.
Let’s start with the most important thing: the trees themselves. On the day, we were planting more than 2000 trees in an area of flood land. We chose species that are native to the UK, grow happily in areas that flood, and actively improve poor soil. For those of you who are interested, the trees we planted were: Common Alder, Common Oak, Willow, Small Alder, Silver Birch, Hornbeam, Hazel, Crab Apple, Blackthorn, and the wonderful scrambling shrub Dog Rose. We do sometimes get asked about specifics, and it’s important to note that we always choose our trees and plants very carefully based on their suitability for the area; we don’t know the tree equivalent of ‘horses for courses’ but, well, you get the idea.
Can you dig it?
As the first party of about fifty were brandishing their spades and stakes, we did a snap survey to get an idea as to how many had planted a tree. Only two hands were raised. One of those belonged to Adam Blanchot of The Drinks Club, who used to be a green keeper, so knew his way around a shovel. Those who had experience were really happy to share their knowledge; our very own Ivo took it upon himself to demonstrate tree planting best practice to loads of our guests. Planting trees is as much fun as it is good for the soul: it was incredibly satisfying to see the field transforming into a sapling wood right in front of our eyes. We’re very grateful to our friends at The Woodland Trust and Trees for Cities for casting an expert eye and making sure our saplings got off to the best start in life – thanks, all.
Not just the tonic.
Our guests weren’t only there to plant trees. We also set up a series of talks and activities about how best to enjoy Sapling Spirits and simultaneously become part of our sustainability mission. In the cocktail tent, renowned mixologist, zero-waste cocktail enthusiast and London Essence Co’s Brand Ambassador Dan Jones led an amazing voyage of discovery that centred on London Essence’s fabulous range of mixers and tonic waters. Everyone was treated to a drinks menu that included Sapling Spritz (Sapling Vodka, Vermouth, Super Citrus Lemon, Mixed Berry Shrub, London Essence Pink Grapefruit Soda) and Navarre (Sapling Gin, Olorosso Sherry, Orange Oleo Saccharum, Lime, Grapefruit & Rosemary Tonic).
Movers and shakers.
Dan demonstrated some sustainable innovations in the world of cocktail mixing: he taught guests how to make a ‘super citrus’ juice mixer that lasts for a month (rather than a night) without losing its freshness. Dan makes it by peeling the citrus and adding citric and malic acids to extract the oils, which he uses to make a concentrate. This is then blended with juice to make super citrus. By maximising the yield of each fruit in this way, you can make 600 ml of lime juice from only four limes.
Life in plastic’s not fantastic.
In another tent across from the food vans (featuring a range of delights from Greedy Vegan and some incredible fresh pizza), Tristan Kaye, Commercial Director at Notpla, gave a fascinating interview with Ed. The two spoke about Notpla’s role in ushering in a new future in which we are no longer dependent on single-use plastics. It was alarming to hear of the extent to which plastic is used even in cardboard packaging. Those familiar takeaway boxes are not only cardboard: they actually contain PLA which, while technically ‘compostable’ and not nearly as bad as petroleum-based plastics, still require expensive and time-consuming processes to recycle.
Why was the sand wet?
Tristan showed us the Notpla solution: a range of products such as takeaway boxes and single-dose edible oils that are made using sustainably sourced seaweed. Seaweed is plentiful and it grows quickly, which makes it far more environmentally friendly than any alternatives. It’s also remarkably versatile. Tristan passed round a tray of shots (Sapling-based of course) that was unlike any you might have seen. The drinks came in a Notpla ‘Ooho’, which is an edible bubble made of seaweed. These entirely plastic-free, vegan and biodegradable capsules are absolutely amazing: all you need to do is pop one in your mouth and you’re converted instantly. We urge you to take a look at Notpla and what they’re doing. Single-use plastic, your days are numbered.
Tree-mendous vote of thanks.
We’d like to say thanks to everyone who came along and made the day so special. A special shout out to our Sapling Team, who went above and beyond to make sure everyone was well looked after. It was a great day and a timely reminder of how special this journey is.
The Sapling Team