The Fishes joins campaign to save the last frontier of the Maasai Mara
A five-strong team who help run the award-winning Peach Pub Company in Oxfordshire will this weekend take their seats on a plane heading for Kenya to join a campaign to save the frontiers of the Maasai Mara Reserve, one of the natural wonders of the world.
Peach co-founder Hamish Stoddart and Peach director Jo Eames, who live in Deddington, will join pub manager Owain Llwyd Jones of The Fishes in North Hinksey, his counterpart Evelin Rae from The Thatch in Thame and her deputy Serena Toh, alongside the company’s butcher and buyer, in a life-changing experience to plant a forest in a week in a new conservancy project on the northern boundary of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. Five other volunteers from Peach’s pubs in the Midlands and Bedfordshire are also taking part in the challenge.
The company has spent the last six months fundraising for the project, raising money by donating a percentage of the takings from dishes on its menus and by completing activities such as a 200 mile sponsored cycle ride between all of its sixteen watering-holes. Over £1 million Kenyan Shillings (around £7,000) has been raised for the conservancy which will be used to plant 20,000, 2 inch trees and to build a fence to protect the conservancy, helping to create what’s been termed the ‘Last Line of Defence’ for an area of land under growing threat.
The idea of the Kenya trip came as a result of the company setting up a new charity initiative, The Peach Foundation, to raise money for two causes close to Peach’s heart, the communities its pubs are based in and the future sustainability of the planet. Last year the foundation took its first steps towards supporting its first adopted overseas cause, the Enonkishu Conservancy in Maasai Mara, Kenya, to create a sustainable mix of tourism, forestry and Maasai traditional farming to help preserve one of Africa’s increasingly fragile ecosystems. This cause is also one that has a life-long and personal connection for Peach co-founder Hamish Stoddart, as he explains.
“This project is something very personal to me as I have been helping my Kenya relations for 15 years, whilst as a business we’ve also been planting trees in Africa for over a decade, to help offset our carbon footprint.
“Africa and in particular the Maasai Mara are both passions of mine, and whilst we do lots close to home to support good causes, through healthy eating for kids, education and sports sponsorship, we chose the Last Line of Defence and the Enonkishu Conservancy as our priorities this year,” says Hamish. “That’s because, in the last few years, the change in the environment and land use has accelerated even more and we now need to take real action to preserve the last great land migration in the world. We’ll be planting 20,000 trees in a week if we can manage it,” he says.
The twelve-strong Peach team plus two key suppliers leave for Kenya this coming Saturday, 25th January. During their week-long stay they will be living under canvas and using spade power to plant the trees, as well as take part in activities to promote sustainable farming, forestry and tourism in this part of Africa. Some of these will be uniquely challenging, like digging ten fence holes in a day or building a game-viewing platform, as well as ear-tagging and milking cows and catching a catfish in the Mara River and then cooking and eating it.
“At Peach, we have always aimed to make a difference to our team, our guests, the local communities and the world. We do some extraordinary things, but this one is a really big one and I’m really proud to be doing it now. If we can change other people’s view of the world, in the same way I had mine changed when I was 20, then I’m sure they’ll be inspired to make a difference in some way in their lives in the future,” he adds.
Locals and pub guests can sponsor the tree-planting effort and the support the Last Line of Defence and the Enonkishu Conservancy by contributing via www.peachfoundation.co.uk Alternatively, they can do their bit to support Hamish and the project by ordering the pub’s Caesar Salad when they visit The Fishes in North Hinksey and The Thatch and The James Figg in Thame; for every salad ordered, the pubs donate 25p to The Peach Foundation to help fund education, sport and conservation in Africa. Find the pubs on www.peachpubs.com