Honey on toast; this humble breakfast enjoyed by millions around the world each morning has taken on new meaning at the Ibis Tainui in Hamilton.
Last year Head Chef, Simon Goodchild, was looking for a local honey to offer his guests when he discovered the award winning Sweetree Honey through a simple goggle search. A visit to the Hamilton Farmers Market confirmed Sweetree were a perfect fit and it wasn’t long before the relationship flourished.
As a member of the Accor group Ibis Tainui Hamilton have embraced Planet 21. In lay mans terms, Planet 21 is the Accor group’s corporate responsibility policy, or as Accor put it “making sustainable hospitality the focus of its strategic vision”.
Planet 21 outlines Accor’s 21 commitments to a sustainable future and encompasses health, nature, carbon, innovation, local development, employment and dialogue. “21 commitments for the well-being of our world.”
So when Simon went in search of a local honey he simply wanted to provide Ibis guests with a local honey, but he soon discovered Sweetree ticked many more boxes that Accor are trying to promote with their Planet 21 programme.
Sweetree is a family business owned by Stephanie and Martin Lynch. The Lynch's take the concept of local honey one step further by not blending their honey from their various different apiaries around the Waikato. Instead Sweetree, much like many world class vineyards, embrace the nuances each apiary site produces. This concept is then further expanded with Sweetree honeys also being distinct to the season the honey was produced which results in subtle changes each year, or vintage, reflecting what Mother nature provided that year. A hot dry summer may mean certain flowers flourish one year to be scarce the following due to high winds or a lot of rain.
Sweetree Honeys now takes pride of place on the Ibis Tainui Hamilton breakfast buffet. The jars, (that’s right, jars, no individual plastic pouches here) help people to recognise that each honey is distinct. It’s clear, Simon says, that the honey is popular by the sheer volume we are going through but also the way the guests have embraced it. In fact you will often see guests take the whole jar to their table, laughs Simon.
Because the honey is so popular among the guests Ibis now also have jars of Sweetree Honey available for guests to buy and take a sweet reminder of the Waikato home with them.
The glass jars Sweetree Honey comes in are another bonus for Simon as it reduces packaging waste. Stephanie and Martin have long encouraged clients to recycle the jars either by repurposing them or by returning them so that they can be reused. You will often see Simon at the Hamilton Farmers Market returning a box of empty jars but now there is another reason Simon is so keen to return the jars to Sweetree.
Last year “one of our employees” Simon says “came to us after watching a TV show on child poverty wanting to help”. So Ibis Tainui Hamilton looked for a school they could help and adopted a local primary school. At first they helped get a breakfast club up and running, now they deliver lunch as well as morning and afternoon teas. Simon, who is also now on the Board of Trustees at the school is always on the lookout for other ways they can help. “We are always crying out for more stuff” says Simon.
So now those jars that Simon returns back to Sweetree are handed over to the Horsham Downs Rural Woman’s group, Horotiu Honeys who regularly hold working bees, this time filling the jam with homemade jam. Then it is Stephanie’s job to return the, now full jars back to Simon who makes sure they go to good use at the local primary school. What a wonderful example of local businesses working together and making a difference on so many levels.
Simon returning jars to Sweetree Honey at the Hamilton Farmers Market