Brent Edelen is a sixth generation beekeeper and a fourth generation domestic beekeeper. He was recently telling Donna Wehe (Small Business Development Center, 589-3682) about how his family ended up here in the Valley: “My great grandfather, Edward Haefeli, passed through Elis Island around the turn of the former century. On his way from Switzerland, he had come to America to seek work and medical help for Tuberculosis. He made his way to Illinois, where he had family, but found the high humidity of the area aggravated his T.B. He continued west towards California. While crossing the Rockies he found the high dry mountain air helped this condition considerably. He eventually settled in the San Luis Valley.”
Today Brent manages about 500 colonies of bees. They have two brand names for their company: Grampa’s Gourmet and Simply Honey. They strive to produce real varietal honey for real people and educate people. They bring a quality honey product to the market. I asked them if there is a difference between locally produced hone and something commercially produced. Brent replied, “You have to be careful and understand the source. Sometimes when you buy honey in the store you do not know exactly what you are getting. I have been in business in Alamosa now for about 10 years, selling honey exclusively wholesale and at various venues. This year, through acts of fate, we opened a retail location. The store is not just to sell honey, but rather to help educate. The popularity of bees has exploded, and our goal is to provide a platform where people can come and learn about honey, bees, and most importantly heritage, sustainability, and showcase what makes the SLV so special.” A story about Brent’s business ran in the Cooking Light magazine in August, 2012. For more information or to order their products online, go to www.grampashoney.com.
At Brent’s location in east Alamosa (across from the Southway Crane, one mile east of the bridge), Karen Lemke will be using part of the building to offer Honey Lab Workshops, where participants can make their own beeswax lip balm, candles, cooking techniques and much more. Email Karen at SLVWannaBee@gmail.com to get a list of classes.
The SBDC and Consultant Esteban Salazar have been guiding Brent in the new retail venture, with assistance from marketing to sales tax and much more. In fact, Esteban is going to be working there part time, so stop by and greet Brent and his crew at their open house. The open house is scheduled for July 5th (free sopapillas & honey samples) and 6th (free barbecue). The regular hours are Wednesday-Friday, 8:00 – 6:00 and Saturday & Sunday 10:00-4:00. They can be reached at (719) 588-5863.