On Thursday, February 1st, CFAC will host the 2nd Annual Farm Fresh Pitchfest, a live event where local farmers and food business owners pitch their entrepreneurial projects to a live audience of community members who want to meet their farmers and invest in local food. This year’s event will be held at Burns St. Bistro, and all are welcome to come mingle, enjoy locally-sourced hors d’oeuvres, and if the pitches compel you – make an investment of anywhere between $25-$10,000 toward a 0% interest Kiva loan.

We’re shining a spotlight on all four entrepreneurs who will make their Farm Fresh pitches at Pitchfest. This week, we feature Kavita Bay of Rivulet Apiaries & Hindu Hillbilly Farms.

Kavita photo 4 with Justin

Bay and her husband Justin have been in business since 2009, maintaining between 180-190 bee hives and producing honey, skincare products and candles. Now they are ready to expand their operation.

“Right now we can only direct sale our products at farmers’ markets,” said Bay. “In order to wholesale our honey, we need to have our honey house certified as a food processing facility. When our shop is complete, it will be set up to get that license.” Bay hopes the loan will help them complete the expansion project before this next season begins.

 

We talked to Bay to learn more about Rivulet Apiaries & Hindu Hilbilly Farms.

Q: Your loan will give you funding to expand your shop and allow you to access the wholesale market. Why is that an important next step for you in your business?

A: Finishing the shop part of our business – which is also value-added – is going to increase our capacity and our efficiency. That will allow us the ability to spend more time with our bees, expand the number of hives we have, and change how we manage them.  It will also make our honey more available to more people. And for us, that will result in additional funds. I hope to triple our honey sales.

Kavita photo 1 honey

Q: What motivated you to start the business?

A: It all started as a side business. I was a teacher, Justin was a contractor. As the recession hit, it was more and more part of our main income. We enjoyed the work, so we started doing more with it. It happened organically – it became most of what we did. Then, two years ago we decided to do it solely. We live a certain lifestyle anyway. We live out by Fish Creek, and grow our own food, so it just fit really well. This shift allowed us to support ourselves by doing something we loved, living a lifestyle that suited raising a family, and aligned itself with the values we hold dear.

Q: What are you most proud of in your business accomplishments so far?

A: I’m proud that we were able to make it what it is, to do it at our own pace, and to maintain our quality of life – what’s important to us – and we’ve done it all by ourselves. Beekeeping these days is a challenge. I am thankful that every year we have found a way to grow and prosper despite the obstacles we have faced. Overcoming these challenges has given me the knowledge that we have the strength and grit to make strides in this industry, for ourselves, and for our community.

Q: What would you like people to know about your business that makes it unique?

A: I feel like I now belong to this community of farmers that are doing similar things as we are. I feel like we’re stewards and that makes me feel good to be going to work every day and to be doing something that benefits someone other than myself. And, for it to be a family endeavor and to be teaching my kids Cy, 14, and Sujatha, 10, to be stewards.

Kavita photo 3 daughter with bees

Q: What’s something you’ll always remember about Cy and Sujatha in this environment of bee keeping and stewarding the land?

A: A really fond memory I have of both of them is seeing their natural curiosity play out in whatever we do. One summer, I looked and looked all over for them, and they were nowhere to be found. I finally found them laying by the hives in their bee suits just watching the bees be coming and going, watching so much happening and finding different bees with different jobs. Later, they’d be telling me “the guard bees are doing this, and bringing in this kind of pollen!” It was really neat to see them being observant and enjoying themselves and learning at the same time.

Kavita photo 5 Suja and bees

Q: What is one hope you have for the future?

A: I hope that we can continue to grow in a way that is sustainable for our family, and for the bees. There’s so much going on right now with bee health, and I feel like we’re working on a puzzle and trying to figure out the best way for them to survive, that’s good for them and their species.

Q: What else do you want people to know about Rivulet Apiaries & Hindu Hilbilly Farms?

A: Our goals are to strive for environmental sustainability in our beekeeping practices, to educate and foster understanding and appreciation of honey bees, and to live a good life and provide a good life for our community. And we want to continue doing that by example.

You can invest in Rivulet Apiaries & Hindu Hilbilly Farms by making a loan at Pitchfest, Thrusday, February 1st, from 6-8 p.m., at Burns St. Bistro. Contact info@missoulacfac.org for more information.

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