Urban beekeepers are proliferating for several reasons. For some, it's just a hobby. For others, it's a lifeline. Beekeeping is becoming increasingly popular in urban environments as "going green" moves into new territory every day. Some people do the work themselves for fun, and others have a "gentlemen's" beekeeping arrangement where their land or roof space is leased to a professional beekeeper in exchange for some honey. This urban produce shows up in more and more farmers' markets all the time.
Still others have found that beekeeping is an effective means to teach life skills and workforce development among adults coming out of prison. One of the guests on The Promised Land is a pioneer in this field. Brenda Palms Barber in Chicago is the driving force behind Sweet Beginnings, a project that produces a skin care line made from urban-grown honey. Her employees, all formerly incarcerated, are now successful graduates of the job training program she developed. Trainees learn to care for bees, harvest honey, process the honey into skin care and other beauty products, and then market their wares to hotels and retail outlets like Whole Foods Market.
Both communities are keeping their local environments in bloom, environmentally and economically. Local honey means fewer food miles/less pollution, but it also means fewer dollars leaving the regional economy -- and that's *sweet *for everyone. Some say eating local honey reduces allergic reactions to local pollen. To find out more about Brenda Palms Barber's work and hear her radio profile, go to: www.thepromisedland.org.