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Incubation Programme

Introducing Class 2: Bloesembar

Incubation Programme

Words by Kelsey Lee Jones

Photos by Let it Grow

It’s the last of our Incubation Programme interviews for 2017/18, we hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Class 2. To round it off we say cheers with Bloesembar’s founder Maidie van den Bos.

Maidie van den Bos is a botanical sommelier, which means she’s stirring up delicious drinks using wildflowers and all kinds of foraged goodness. Her high-end cocktails, mocktails and fizzy concoctions are the results of happy accidents and experiments, as she unearths the surprising colours and flavours that nature has to offer each season. Lucky for us, she recently founded Bloesembar as a way to serve up her sweet creations to the world.

When did you first find your touch with nature?


I grew up in the Dutch countryside where my parents have a business in building site development and soil trading, so I was always surrounded by lots of nature. I’ve been living in the city (Rotterdam) for fifteen years now and I started to realise I was missing being outside. So I got myself a dog (a Border Collie named Ginny) and this is when I changed. I started to enjoy being at a slower pace, looking around at nature, using all of my senses to connect with flora and the changing seasons.


How do you combine it with your creativity?

I’m trained as an interior architect and I also studied the way people live in the city and along the waterside as their surroundings. I moved from working with architects and in retail to create design solutions with food and all the problems of feeding the world. It was meaningful, but not sustainable for making a living. With Bloesembar I found a way to share a positive and happy message in a tasteful way. There are so many natural flavours to discover, I can work forever on creating new combinations and experiences.



How do you manage to forage in a city like Rotterdam?


There is so much, more than I’d ever imagined. I love all the secrets that are found in the city, but also in the peripheries. I choose to walk with Ginny and spend time in a lot of different places around the city. If I see a specific plant or tree with flowers in a garden that I feel like using, I ring doorbells to ask if I can harvest there.



What was your first concoction, and your best experiment?

I began by making elderflower syrup. After following my nose around, the next flavours were the Rosa Rugosa and Wild Mints syrup. With the three of those, I had a nice base to set up for events with different flavours to offer both non-alcoholic and alcoholic cocktails.
  

I experimented with fermentation, but this happened completely by accident. An airborne yeast ending up in my syrup and created a floral champagne. Sugar was turned into alcohol and fizz and the taste had matured a lot, it was exciting. The base is three years old now and I use it as a starter for my other floral champagnes.

“There are so many natural flavours to discover, I can work forever on creating new combinations and experiences”.

What are your favourite Bloesembar flavours?


My favourite is the Midsummer Dream, made with flowers from the area where I grew up. Other favourites are Wild Mints, Hop&Honey, and Fir&Friends (which is the base of the Christmas tree flavour). In April I’ll be harvesting magnolia and dandelion again, moving on to L’Aubepine. I can’t wait for spring to be here!

  

There’s a lot still to discover, there are lots of different wild plants, flowers and herbs around the world to experiment with. I travelled to Mexico and spent a lot of time in France and I think that I can find new flavours so long as I keep travelling the world. This is my wish and ambition. I want to tell stories of places and moments with my drinks.

Tell us about some of the projects that you’ve been working on...

I try to do a number of things with Bloesembar, varying from commercial high-end drinks catering across the Netherlands and Europe, to working with communities and municipalities to investigate nature with artists and their view on the natural surroundings. I’ve been working on a drinks experience at the Theater Rotterdam for their programme Imagine2020. It’s about climate change and sustainability and I tell things about nature and human interactions within the landscape, through drinks.

How about your project repurposing Rotterdam’s Christmas tree?

It’s my project Coolsingelspar, I’m repurposing Rotterdam’s tree in a zero-waste initiative, collaborating within all layers of society, from schools, students and volunteers, to creatives, to the municipality and Michelin-starred chefs. With one tree we will create 35,000 beverages. I will make around 1000 litres of syrup, 500 bottles of champagne, 500 bottles of non-alcoholic fermentation, smoking chips, handcrafted paper, coasters, packaging for the bottles and maybe even a small mobile bar. We will use every needle and branch, and the bark and tree trunk. 
Syrups are launched in March but other products will take some more time. The champagne will be ready a lot later, due to fermenting quite some months, but definitely before Christmas this year. You can subscribe to my newsletter for updates on the project, and follow me on Instagram for live stories.

How is the Incubation Programme helping scale Bloesembar?

Let it Grow helps me with scaling the business by guiding me through all the steps that involve growing. All aspects are included, from proper financing and legal input to the practical side of producing. The programme is a proper kick-in-the-butt for trying all the processes and it puts things into perspective, we’ll fail at some points and succeed at others.

Right now things are going well, I’m in the testing phase for scaling up through the tree project. Already we are growing from a one-person business to a team of three. We’re working with a local beer brewer and his giant cooking tanks and fermentation barrels. If everything works out with the tree, we’ll be moving from here with bigger harvests. I can’t wait to see what happens, but all is bright and I’m positive for a flavourful future for Bloesembar!

 

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