OR;LANDO, Fla. – The city of Orlando started its Kidz Zone service in the Parramore neighborhood with the intent of improving the well-being of the children who live in that area.
The Parramore Kidz Zone offers a unique program for the children it serves that gives them real-world, entrepreneurial experience along with an opportunity to provide food for their community.
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Black Bee Honey is a student entrepreneurship program that was founded in 2017, allowing the students to learn beekeeping, honey production and sales.
“We have four different flavors of honey. All four have different benefits. So we have palmetto, gallberry, wildflower and orange blossom,” Thierry Francois, a recent graduate of Black Bee Honey said. “Orange blossom is good for your immune system. Wildflower is good for allergies and palmetto and gallberry are cooking honey — and also good for your drinks.”
It is a 10-week program that includes having the students run stands at Orlando-area farmers’ markets.
They’ve also built a bee colony that sits on the roof of Orlando Fire Station 1. Black Bee Honey will infuse this batch with peppers to make a new flaming hot honey.
“I would really love to have my own business and all the skills that I’ve learned from Black Bee Honey, I’m going to take them with me,” Francois said.
One of the problems faced by Parramore is that it is a food desert — a geographic location where access to affordable, healthy food options is limited. Part of Black Bee’s plan is to help the community gain access to healthier food.
“A lot of kids wake up and the first thing that they eat is, I would say, a chip and that’s not really healthy. So we want to want to change that,” Francois said.
Francois added that his experiences with Black Bee have been “shocking and amazing” to friends that he’s spoken to about the program. Now, many of them hope to join themselves.
“What I would tell them is it’s basically a family. When you come in just get ready to learn, and what you learn will really help you in the future,” he said.
On the latest Florida Foodie, Francois and Alexis Hicks, the case manager for families, parks and recreation with Parramore Kidz Zone, talk more about what the kids learn while taking part in Black Bee Honey and how the program has grown since it began. They also talk about the partnerships Black Bee Honey has formed with Orlando-area restaurants and businesses.
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