Pilot beekeeping, gardening program meant to benefit veterans

By Pilar Arias - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - The American Honey Bee Protection Agency is working to keep honey bees from extinction, while coming up with creative ways to help veterans.

The Texas honey bee nonprofit expanded its sustainability efforts in San Antonio Wednesday by planting a produce garden.

A bee apiary already exists at La Cantera Resort and Spa, but now activists with the American Honey Bee Protection Agency out of Austin want honey bees to pollinate a new crop of vegetables, fruits and herbs planted at the resort's signature restaurant. In turn, the gardening is meant to help those tending to each individual plant.

"The returning vets that suffer from (post-traumatic stress disorder) will go through a training program with honey bees and growing crops," said Water Schumacher, CEO of the American Honey Bee Protection Agency.

Schumacher, who refers to himself as the "bee-czar," said the pilot program called Food Force 1 is considered edu-therapy for veterans suffering from PTSD.

"Either they can take a pill called Zoloft, which is what our government suggests, or they can learn to do something that is a little bit different, like get that zen aspect of gardening," Schumacher said.

The business the garden sits behind is expected to buy all the organic food grown. Schumacher is hoping the program will expand to other restaurants and hotels.

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