Our fearless leader, Mr. Kirk Jones, is a connector of people and fun. He’s in a band and makes mead, for starters! As a long time local entrepreneur, he is also a great collaborator invested in good things happening in our community. One particular project, Hive Minded, is making a difference in the lives of area students.
Hive Minded is an after school program utilizing the now defunct Industrial Arts classroom at Benzie Central Schools. When the regular programming in that course ended, the facilities manager, Mike Zimmerman, saw an opportunity. As a board member of Grow Benzie, a community resource center located in Benzonia, Mike values the trades programs for students. He developed a course, along with volunteers, and raised funds through Grow Benzie’s annual auction to begin a bee box building class. Kirk promised to buy the bee boxes for production here.
The program was successful enough after one year to hire a coordinator, our own saleswoman, Randi Lyn Stoltz, and add another new product; game boxes, also known to many locals as “corn hole”. With the game, they also began using another classroom that was not being utilized in the school curriculum; (Home Economics), and specifically, the sewing machines.
These machines help produce the bean bags and students learn the basics of sewing, from Grow Benzie’s sewing studio volunteers and fiber guild.
Students from both Benzie Central and Frankfort Elberta are involved in Project Hive Minded. You can purchase the game boxes at St Ambrose as well as from Grow Benzie, and all the proceeds return to fund the programming.
Honor & Onekama Building Supply provides the materials and volunteers still help teach and connect students to the importance of bees in pollination of our most valuable resource; crops that grow our food, while also learning skills of self-reliance, entrepreneurship, stewardship, and marketing themselves.
You can learn more about Project Hive Minded as well as Grow Benzie by visiting growbenzie.org and stay tuned to our blog as we plan to host a bean bag toss competition!
You can try out the game for yourself when you visit the tasting room at St. Ambrose Cellars, as we always have a pair waiting to be played, out on the lawn, with a glass of your favorite St. Ambrose beverage.