This past March, beekeeper David Harrod, who tends the hives on the grounds of Saul High School in Roxborough that produce Henry Got Crops Farm honey, received a $1,080 no-interest, no-fees, working capital loan from our committee’s micro-loan program. The loan, administered by the Free Loan Association for Germantown (another NEI initiative) helped him establish 20 beehives in accordance with a business plan he presented to the committee. As planned, Harrod repaid the loan in September.
The bees are happy; in fact, they are still producing. Sufficient honey will be left in the hives to nourish the bees through their dormant period until next spring when they will resume their work. And Harrod plans to expand his beekeeping operations further in 2021.
The NEI/FLAG micro-loan program seeks partnerships in enduring relationships rather than just one-off financial transactions, so we look forward to helping Harrod’s next steps. In addition to increasing the bee population at Saul High, he is considering placing an apiary on the roof of Weavers Way Mercantile on Carpenter Lane. Along with increased production of local honey, West Mt. Airy residents may soon benefit from more robust pollination of flowers, trees and plants by his non-aggressive bees.
NEI intends to explore with Harrod and other local beekeepers the potential for establishing a local producer cooperative for processing honey and beeswax with distribution channels supported by the Co-op. Along with Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, we seek to promote cooperative startups and businesses that convert themselves into co-ops. Moreover, the NEI hopes to improve food security for families in our neighborhoods and to promote sustainable economic development by local entrepreneurs through establishment of commercial kitchens operating in partnership with Weavers Way.
Harrod’s beekeeping venture has been the pilot project for the micro-loan program. Due to the pandemic, the program was put on hold after making his loan; however, applications are now being accepted.
Loan amounts depend on venture needs and the capacities of the fund – in general, the range is between $500 and $1,500. Application forms can be obtained from the FLAG website at www.PhilaFLAG.org and submitted either through Germantown United Community Development Corporation or any member of the New Economy Incubator Committee.