New Zealand-based startup Your Pure Honey is putting the connection between consumer investment and resource preservation to the test. The organization allows consumers to purchase a share (or more) of a beehive in exchange for the Manuka honey the hive produces. The exchange also helps protect Manuka forests in the region while providing income for local farmers. Touted a “crowdfunded sustainable forest,” the project is, in many ways, a glimpse into the multiple options for creating a greater degree of sustainability in agriculture and trade in the global marketplace.
According to a report by springwise.com, the Your Pure Honey process is simple. Hive purchasers may choose from two options: a basic share (which costs about 285 USD per season and provides 2kg of raw honey) or an entire colony (which costs about $2,500 and provides 20 kg of honey). Delivery is included in the costs. Meanwhile, Your Pure Honey protects New Zealand’s Manuka forests by renting farmland (at one hectare [2.5 acres] per hive), thereby providing work for farmers while keeping the forests intact. (Manuka trees are often cut down to provide extra farming land.) Each beehive provides enough funds to sustain five forest acres.
Importantly, the Your Pure Honey process is more than just a sign-up-and-ship endeavor. The organization appears to rely heavily on a philosophy of consumer connectedness with the product. Accordingly, Your Pure Honey provides each consumer with photos, a private website, and a DVD about his or her individual hive, thus enhancing the consumer’s appreciation for the hive. In doing so, it seems Your Pure Honey and similar programs address one of the basic problems of modern agriculture and food trade: the separation of the consumer from his food source. It is this aspect of Your Pure Honey’s operations that, in my opinion, depicts one option for increasing the sustainability of agriculture in the emerging global marketplace, since it may appeal to urbanites and other individuals who may not otherwise seek out similar quality foodstuffs.
The benefits of Your Pure Honey’s operations notwithstanding, a fair critique must ask: are there down sides to the setup? For example, do the program’s benefits compensate for the carbon footprint involved in transporting the honey? And, is importing and exporting the honey a viable economic move – for New Zealand and for the places to which it ships? (I kicked this idea around in a previous post about a wine importing company.) Granted, Manuka honey is unavailable outside New Zealand, so perhaps Your Pure Honey has found the best way to utilize and protect the region’s resources….
What are your thoughts on the matter?