Bettering the land: Local environmental remediation agency brings beehives to abandoned coal mines

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As an environmental remediation agency, Fishers-based Land Betterment works to improve distressed rural areas. Its most recent business venture, Pollinate, provides transitionary occupations in abandoned coal mines by creating beehives in those areas.

“Basically, we all came together from a company perspective and we wanted to make a change and we wanted to help some of these areas that are overlooked and underserved,” Land Betterment executive chairman Mark Jensen said. “They ultimately needed a lot of help, so we created Land Betterment a few years back to do environmental remediation and sustainable development on top of those impacted properties.”

While repairing the land in those areas, Land Betterment staff saw a need to do it more efficiently.

“We saw these impacted properties and the people needed purpose and they needed jobs, so Pollinate was born under the concept that when you go out there to remediate a property, we wanted to do that faster, better and more naturally than what was done by the predecessors,” said Jensen, a Fishers resident. “What we are doing is building out bee colonies with the idea that they are helping pollinate a lot of growth around these reclaimed properties. The beautiful thing about it is it creates jobs in the communities that need them the most, and it helps environmental remediation by returning the earth to a more natural state.”

Each of Land Betterment’s product lines will be connected, and Pollinate aids in one of Land Betterment’s other ventures, Restored. The product is a 100-percent honey-based spirits brand operated through Coal Craft Spirits, a distillery brand operated by Land Betterment.

Jensen

“They don’t all taste like honey, but they are made from honey,” Jensen said. “So, we are using honey from all these restored properties we are bringing bee colonies into.”

At each bee colonies, two to three individuals will be hired to manage the hives. The entire operation can create up to 90 jobs.

Pollinate is a new company. Its plan is to install bee colonies in 14 locations. The firm will then explore installing more high-tech hives.

“Out of all Land Betterment’s business lines, Pollinate is the least labor intensive,” Jensen said.

Taylor

Originally, Land betterment officials planned to make Pollinate a charitable concept, but they knew they had to make money to influence and impact communities.

“There’s so much opportunity for this type of sustainable impact,” Land Betterment President Kirk Taylor said. “Right now, we have five commercialized businesses.”

Taylor, a Westfield resident, said Land Betterment is seeking supporters through crowdfunding.

Pollinate introduces bee colonies to abandoned coal mines in an effort to remediate the environment. (Submitted photo)

 Farm-to-bottle concept

Land Betterment’s company Coal Craft Spirits has a full distillery in Jacksonville, Ind. The firm is in negotiations for a micro-tasting room and micro-distillery in Noblesville. Once negotiations are finalized and the micro-distillery is built, Restored and Coal Craft Spirits products will be offered at the Noblesville location. The tasting room will open under the Restored brand.

“As I mentioned earlier with Land Betterment, we want each existing business line to touch another, and in Jacksonville, we are taking property and growing with a farm-to-bottle concept. We are looking at utilizing all local-based products, and all field-based products like corn, rye and wheat will be grown on our site or in local farms,” Land Betterment executive chairman Mark Jensen said.




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