You know you’re in Belgrave when the first person you meet is a cheerful elderly gentleman dressed entirely in bright orange. The best part? He was wearing an eyepatch wonderfully reminiscent of a pirate…
That was the sight that greeted me as I walked out of the train station.
I was on my way to meet Sonja Schaeffner. The owner of the Tree of Delights Café. I had been here once before, and fell in love with the little café, that had a tree of hearts across one wall and tables all printed with their own names. Treats and treasures filled every corner.
Sailing past the brilliantly eclectic shops, I quickly found my mark. On arrival, the very next set of people I met included one lady making coffee, and another baking a cake. Not quite as exciting as the orange pirate, but hey! Cake and Coffee!
Of course, the very first question I asked Sonja, the owner and baker of cakes, was about the names on the tables. (In case you were wondering, they are all members of her family!).
She had long dreamed of opening a café. A year ago, that became a reality. Sonja, and the goods she bakes, come from Germany. It can be difficult to find foods from home in other countries. So, she created her café to bring a little bit of Germany not only to her family, but also to her customers.
I was struck by one particularly German trait. The nation has a frankly ruthless recycling system- one that Sonja reflects in the best possible way.
If something can be recycled, it is. Boxes and packaging, right down to the soft plastics. Even the food scraps are collected to be fed to her chickens! She sets out to use sustainable products in her shop. Including selling almost only drinks bottled in glass
Sonja also makes a point to promote and sell a range of eco-friendly products.
From metal straws through to beeswax wraps, Sonja herself says that we should be doing everything we can to play our parts. She definitely practices what she preaches. In addition to all the work she does with her café, she is a volunteer firefighter! Even before we sat down in person, I had asked her what her motivation was. Her answer was short, sharp, and wonderfully clear.
‘We only have the one world, and therefore have to look after it and preserve it for future generations.’
Listening to her describe all the work she has done to live out this motto I was blown away by her dedication and fierce fervor on the subject. I only had one more question; what she believed a hero to be. Knowing that she has brought something from her old home to her new home. Shared it with everyone. And works hard to look after the world and encourage others to do the same. Her answer was the perfect summary of everything she has achieved so far.
‘A hero is someone who does something incredible for other people’.