Guest Blog: Cheers to the Trees

March 15, 2017

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This guest blog was provided by our friends at Gainesville Scene.

A couple years ago, three organizations had a vision to further their sustainability initiatives in an impactful way. Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT), Swamp Head Brewery, and Solar Impact teamed up to provide a successful event yielding 73,513 planted trees at Little Orange Creek Preserve. This year’s third annual Tree Fest is gearing up to be the most successful to date.

Swamp Head’s interest in environmental stewardship has been a priority since day one and even hold the title as the first craft brewery in Florida to use solar so it was only natural to create a community event to further a larger environmental purpose. Mike Garrett of Solar Impact explains how the Tree Fest idea organically unfolded.

“The idea was born out of the [fact] that there wasn’t a big event in Gainesville that centered around Earth day or Arbor day every year. We already had a program with ACT that planted 500 trees for every home that goes solar with us and 1,000 for every business,” says Garrett.

“We also, at that time, had already installed solar panels on Swamp Head, and thought this would be a great opportunity for Swamp Head to host the first big event at their new facility and give people an easy way to make an impact.”

Tree Fest plants five trees for every beer purchased during the event, in addition to shirt purchases and other food and drink purchases. The team doubled their tree planting fund total during year two and are excited for another successful round three.

“Longleaf pines, which once covered an estimated 90 million acres, now cover less than 3 percent of their original range.  Tree Fest is an awesome way to raise awareness in the community about this critical habitat in north central Florida, have fun, and raise funds to restore our local longleaf pine forests at the same time,” says Tom Kay, Executive Director of ACT.      

The event also provides a unique opportunity to learn more about the various environmental initiatives of Gainesville organizations. ACT focuses on protecting and restoring land, preserving historic treasures, mentoring future conservationists, and providing environmental education.

“Swamp Head fans can get more involved by volunteering for tree plantings, trash clean-ups of local creeks & rivers, and joining ACT on one of its many nature outings or workshops,” says Kay.

Tree Fest also hopes to shed some light on the emerging and seemingly complex topic of solar energy.

“Our biggest goal is always education,” Garrett states. “Solar is an industry full of misconception. Though we’re in on solar for environmental reasons, it also just makes plain good financial sense. Renewable energy has nothing to do with tech or financing; it’s 100% a social and political problem.”

The free event will be held from 12pm-11pm at Swamp Head Brewery, and will feature vendors and live music. As Garrett points out, “how amazing that these trees will be a cool forest in 20 years that were planted by people who wanted to drink a beer.” An event not worth missing and an epic celebration of Gainesville, Earth Day, Arbor Day, and of course, delicious Swamp Head beer.

Brought to you by GainesvilleScene and Gator Rentals

Get more details here and don’t forget to RSVP on Facebook.

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