by Paul Franson
Napa Valley Register
The Honey Wine Co. in San Francisco was started by Ayele Solomon, a native of Ethiopia. Part of his motivation is to help create a market for farmers in Ethiopia and stop deforestation.
In Ethiopia, where a honey wine called t’ej is a traditional drink, hollow beehives are hung in trees to attract bees. They produce only a few pounds of poor quality honey per year — while “modern” frame beehives invented in 1852, produce up to 10 times more honey.
The people in the Kafa region of Ethiopia live on a few dollars a day due to outdated farming practices such as these traditional hives. Meanwhile, their low incomes are forcing them to cut down the important Kafa rainforest — where coffee originated — for planting crops and to make charcoal from the wood. Ironically, fewer tree flowers means less honey.
After a visit to the Kafa forest in 2008, Solomon decided to make honey wine in California and use the sales to finance modern beekeeping and beehive conversions and earn families five times more household income while saving their forest and reducing carbon emissions.
Related Forum Discussion: Honey Wine Co. founder hopes to help Ethiopian farmers