By Michael Manfredi (GART ’18)
One extremely fascinating and, frankly, unique company in Montreal is called Alveole, a company that puts their focus on beekeeping. More specifically, they encourage beekeeping all around the city. Alveole’s main service is aiding clients in the installation and care of their own apiaries. The benefits of having one of these on the property of your home or business is two fold: Not only do you get a self sufficient source of honey, perfect for a restaurant or eatery, but you also encourage pollination in your local area. Alveole also has a second function: education. It hosts classes on bees and beekeeping, available to anyone, but especially encouraged if you are actually establishing a hive; you must know how to take care of it! With time, Alveole hopes to spread their appreciation of bees across the whole city.
The company itself was started by three friends, originally from Montreal, who were beekeeping in Manitoba. After several years of work, they decided to do something that would benefit their home communities, and so in 2012 they founded Alveole. The company now hosts only about 7 workers, with the original trio still responsible for most of the service aspects of the company, and they certainly have been busy. With literally hundreds of installations stretching all across Montreal, Alveole is responsible for a lot of bee activity in the area! But their influence doesn’t stop there: Alveole is beehives up and running not just in Montreal, but in Quebec City as well. There’s even a few in the United States and all the way across the pond, dotting Europe. Now that’s reach!
Alveole is not, however, the only innovative initiative in Montreal that helps the city in an eco friendly way. Urban Shepherds such as the one who visited our class, Laurence Barchichat, are taking sheep to public parks and allowing them to graze there. Similar to Alveole, there are a multitude of benefits to their activities across the city. The first comes in the simple form of mowed grass. Grazing sheep wander across parks and munch on the grass, offering a natural and environmentally safe way of cutting the grass, without loud lawnmowers and gas exhaust. The relationship is mutually beneficial. There are educational benefits to the practices too. Locals and children are allowed to interact and learn about sheep firsthand, up close and personal, in a truly unique experience. A variety of activities are put forth, ranging from simple animal interaction to yoga with the animals.
There is also a more… curious benefit to the shepherd’s activity. After the sheep have lived a healthy, happy life, the animals are put to slaughter for their meat. This is one of the primary uses for their sheep, and the reason they are raised in the first place. The goal is to fill the role of a meat supplier, without the drawbacks of the greater food processing companies. The animals are treated well, with dignity, respect and care, which is much more than can be said for larger companies.
Montreal is home to many interesting and innovative companies that constantly seek green solutions to modern, everyday urban problems.