Community Apiary - Providing Experiential Education and Access for Novice Beekeepers in an Urban Setting

Project Overview

LS22-378
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2022: $49,801.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2024
Grant Recipients: Clara White Mission - White Harvest Farms; The Herban Bee
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
Ju'Coby Pittman
Clara White Mission
Co-Investigators:
Octavious Carr
The Herban Bee
Mallory Schott
Clara White Harvest Farms

Commodities

  • Animals: bees

Practices

  • Crop Production: cover crops
  • Education and Training: technical assistance
  • Sustainable Communities: urban agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    Project Abstract

     

    The Community Apiary will educate an urban community on beekeeping. This two-year project combines the work of beekeepers and urban farmers to increase community awareness of the potential for beekeeping and the sale of the honey as a source of income.

     

    The project explores a community-driven model for sustainable beekeeping education. Located in the historically Black neighborhood of Moncrief Springs in Northwest Jacksonville, White Harvest Farms is a 10.5-acre urban no-till regenerative farm that operates a farmer’s market on-site, and hosts a variety of workshops including organic gardening, herbal teas and edible weeds, composting, and the art of beekeeping. WHF is operated by the Clara White Mission, a non-profit established in 1904 to aid in feeding the homeless, housing veterans and training community members for jobs. The land cultivated as WHF was once inhabited by the mission's founder and is historically significant in the Black community. Furthermore, WHF’s weekly farmers market supports regional farmers through acceptance of EBT while doubling EBT purchases on Florida-grown produce through the Florida Fresh Access Bucks program. The Community Apiary provides additional opportunities to expand local food production, diversify our local food economy, and provide exposure to underserved community members to entrepreneurship opportunities and careers as an apiary worker.

     

    The Community Apiary is supervised by The Herban Bee, which maintains 15 existing hives situated at WHF. This program will expand that to 25 hives as an experiential learning opportunity. The free beekeeping internship educates beginners on all aspects of beekeeping from securing local permits, purchasing equipment and processing honey. The Beekeeping curriculum involves formal classroom as well as hands-on education for three hours twice a month from the spring to fall. The project is a collaboration between farmers and beekeepers to manage nectar sources and crop pests sustainably for production of high-quality produce and high honey yield while growing locally adapted bee populations.

     

    The Community Apiary addresses the environmental barriers to sustainable beekeeping such as organic pesticide use on farms and contaminated nectar sources by educating farmers and beekeepers on pollinator crop management strategies and integrated pest management strategies.  It addresses social and economic barriers to beekeeping by providing the program to residents in the 32209 ZIP Code where many residents are low-income and there is unequal access to healthy food. The project gives aspiring beekeeping entrepreneurs the opportunity to increase and diversify their income sources.

     

    In disadvantaged communities there is often a disconnect between food source and food acquisition. Beekeeping gives communities an opportunity to connect a food with a food source, creating a pathway of thinking about healthier food options and choices. Honey as a food source is rich in bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants and can reduce pollen-based allergies.

     

    Over the two-year grant period, the project partners will work together to build and refine a regionally adapted Beekeeping Curriculum and Pollinator Crop Management strategy. This information will be shared with interns enrolled in this program as well as those enrolled in WHF sustainable farming curriculum, funded separately.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objectives

     

    1. Establish a Community Apiary at a public, nonprofit farm, White Harvest Farms (WHF) in Jacksonville, Florida
    2. Create a Community Apiary Beekeeping Curriculum and Pollinator Crop Management plan for educational use in the Northeast Florida region (NEFL)
    3. Engage at least 20 participants as beekeeping interns for each year of the two-year project and use WHF programs to educate about Integrative Pest Management and growing cover crops for beneficial insects and bees
    4. Use multiple outlets to share the Community Apiary Curriculum and Pollinator Crop Management Plan

     

    This project utilizes the outdoor classroom at White Harvest Farms to set up an additional line of sustainability education on the topic of beekeeping and pollinator education. It establishes a Community Apiary with at least 20 hives for an experiential learning initiative. The Community Apiary will be managed by local beekeeper Mika Hardison, co-owner of The Herban Bee, who will educate participants on beekeeping as a sustainable entrepreneurial pursuit. 

     

    The Herban Bee will create an updated training curriculum that includes the basics of establishing a beehive, including:

    • building a beehive
    • maintaining a beehive
    • treating pests and disease
    • splitting hives
    • processing honey
    • making honey products
    • marketing honey (see attachment for more details on the curriculum)

     

    This culturally accessible training will engage students in hands-on and classroom learning on all aspects of becoming a successful beekeeper. It will include additional resources for learning and how to continue beekeeping after the internship ends. The Herban Bee and WHF will engage at least 20 individuals annually for a total of 40 for the life of the project as students of the Beekeeping Internship at the Community Apiary. 

     

    White Harvest Farms staff will use USDA/SARE resources to create a pollinator crop management plan that provides habitat and nectar for beneficial insects and bees throughout the year in the NEFL climate. WHF staff will implement the plan using their crop rotation techniques and IPM buffer areas to have a consistent source of flowering beneficial plants at the farm. WHF will utilize cover crops as a primary source of pollinator crops, as they are affordable, easy to establish, increase pollinators and beneficial insects, and build soil. 

     

    WHF hosts tours with local groups including Duval Soil and Water Conservation District - Start Farming, Wealth Watchers, Edward Waters College New-Town Success Zone Community Garden, and Master Gardeners. Additionally, WHF staff share an Introduction to Organic Gardening class every month. During tours and classes like these, WHF staff educate participants on the benefits of IPM and steps to implement it on a small farm or garden. WHF will purchase seed for IPM plantings and create regional educational materials around IPM and pollinator crop management. 

     

    Additionally, WHF staff will use multiple channels to distribute the Community Apiary and Pollinator Crop Management Curriculum to the public. Staff will share the Community Apiary and Pollinator Crop Management curriculum digitally, on the Clara White Mission website. Staff will distribute the Community Apiary and Pollinator Crop Management as an e-book to local libraries and assist at least one library to make a display about the project during Pollinator Awareness Month (April). In the second year of the project, WHF and The Herban Bee will record lessons for inclusion in the e-book. Lastly, WHF and The Herban Bee staff will attend at least one national, state, or regional conference to share the Community Apiary Project with the public.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.