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Windtree Bee

5 Questions for Jill McCullough of Windtree Bee

Windtree Bee is a family-owned apiary in north Baltimore County. Run by Jill McCullough and her husband Craig, who serves as the primary beekeeper, it is truly a family affair. Their two daughters, Haley and Ellie, pitch in to help with photography and social media, while Jill manages everything from sales, to packaging and marketing. Windtree Bee sells delicious jams, home-harvested honey, rustic pantry foods, cottage bouquets, and unique, one-of-a-kind nature-themed art and heritage crafts. 

We sat down with Jill, who recently participated in the Chesapeake Agriculture Innovation Center’s program to help value-added agriculture producers scale their business and ensure profitability, to discuss her family business.

 

What drives you to do what you do?

I’m passionate about heritage skills and artisan products, especially when they’re made with locally sourced materials or ingredients. Modern technology and a global economy may be well and good, but for ordinary folks living in a community, sometimes the best connections are the in-person ones made by learning, doing, and buying things that have been taught and bought for centuries: beekeeping & honey, canning & jam, gardening & flowers. I also love nurturing a nature-based business. Everything we do is tied to the land in some way, even the outdoor markets where we sell our products give us the opportunity to be outside.

What did you gain most from the CAIC program?

Inspiration to push our little business to the next level. Participating in the CAIC workshops and break-out sessions helped motivate me to write our first business plan; register our trade name; design a logo; order new business cards, t-shirts, and table banner; tackle Instagram; find new markets; review our liability insurance; and buy my own bee suit!

What’s next?

Our dual metric for success is incremental growth combined with exponential improvement. Windtree Bee offers high quality, handmade or home-harvested goods, so each product is unique or part of a very small batch. This year, we added a second regular market to our selling season. We have more hives and planted a strawberry patch on our one-acre apiary. I’m also exploring ways to expand in smart, sustainable ways. In the future, we may offer beekeeping services, heritage craft workshops, and/or other artisan acidified foods.

Advice for budding entrepreneurs?

Answer your “why” early on. If you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, it makes every decision easier. Also, I understand that some entrepreneurs are driven by numbers (gross sales, total units sold, social media followers, etc.), but I would encourage small businesses to revel in their size. (Check out Paul Jarvis’ Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing in Business.)

Favorite quote?

The difference between a flower and a weed is judgment.

 

You can meet Jill and taste her products at the Maryland Ag Center Farm Market on Friday afternoons or at the Hereford Farm Market on Saturday mornings. To learn more about Windtree Bee, check out their website, windtreebee.com. 

 

SOCIAL MEDIA POST;

Windtree Bee is a family-owned apiary in north Baltimore County. Run by Jill McCullough and her husband Craig, who serves as the primary beekeeper, it is truly a family affair. Their two daughters, Haley and Ellie, pitch in to help with photography and social media, while Jill manages everything from sales, to packaging and marketing. Windtree Bee sells delicious jams, home-harvested honey, rustic pantry foods, cottage bouquets, and unique, one-of-a-kind nature-themed art and heritage crafts. 

We sat down with Jill, who recently participated in the Chesapeake Agriculture Innovation Center’s program to help value-added agriculture producers scale their business and ensure profitability, to discuss her family business.

 

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MINI-GRANTs

Mini-Grants up to $5,000 are available for:
– Market Research and Validation of Target Market
– Customer Acquisition
– Product Development Initiatives
– Food Safety Classes
Eligibility
Value-added producers and companies with traction ($20,000 or more in yearly revenue) in Maryland and Delaware are eligible to apply for Mini-Grants. Participants may apply once for each of the categories. Applicants must demonstrate that they have a unique and differentiated product or service that incorporates an aspect of innovation or technology in its production, processing, distribution, or other element of the food supply system.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Award decisions will be made and funds will be available no later than three weeks following the receipt of a completed application.
Application Process
Applicants must submit Mini-Grant proposals by filling out the form at this link. Copy(ies) of quote(s), proposal(s), estimate(s), or any other supporting documents.

ACCESS TO SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS (SMES)

CAIC offers access to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who can offer authoritative advice based on their deep knowledge and experience in a specific area. See the ADVISORS page of this Web site to learn more about the SMEs who are available to CAIC participants.