Expressing that her love and passion for her home of Sweeting’s Cay runs deep, proprietor of Heady’s Apiary and Tours Heather Feaster said, she is determined to do all in her power to expose the world to the beauty, peace and tranquility that the Cay is known and loved for.
In a recent interview with this daily, Feaster shared the pairing of her apiary businesses along with her passion of preserving the natural habitats for endangered species, while offering tours to visitors and natives.
“The idea of the business venture came about when I was selected to participate in a venture, which the Bahamas Development Bank (BDB) launched. They decided to tap into untapped markets that we are lacking, but that are sustainable enough to have running in the country, which was bee keeping. The idea was to harvest bees for the production of honey. Many of the other Caribbean countries are doing it, but we, here in The Bahamas, while there are some that do it, it is not done on a large scale.
“In doing so, the BDB invested over $400,000, sending 24 students to complete courses from January to May of last year. Successful candidates once they passed, they were required to present a successful business plan to BDB, where they in turn decided to fund said companies. I decided to open my business in Sweeting’s Cay, because that is where I am from and if I were to do anything I want to empower Sweeting’s Cay,” Feaster explained.
“I went back to Sweeting’s Cay where I started my honey farm, by trial and error, but nevertheless it is coming along. In the midst of opening my honey farm, I realized that there was so much more that I could offer on Sweeting’s Cay not just honey. So, I decided to incorporate tours into my company.
“Therefore, I went ahead and took all of the necessary steps to obtain my tour license. I also discovered at that time, despite all of my life growing up on Sweeting’s Cay, that we have a Turtle Pond. With that in mind, on October 14, 2018 I created The Sweeting’s Cay Heritage Association, which would protect all of our natural habitats on the island – the pond, the creek, the dock and all of our boiling holes. The idea behind what I am doing is to empower Sweeting’s Cay,” said Feaster.
She shared a few of the association’s plans moving forward. “We want to transform the Turtle Pond into a National Park. We have folks (tourists) coming in and out of the Cay all the time, but it is not benefitting the Cay. Persons come and visit the island, participate in the little activities that we have going on and so, I decided to approach the residents suggesting that we create the association to establish a National Park and other ventures on the island for guests to enjoy.
“As far as my tours are concerned, once persons come they will be exposed to Down Home Nature Tours. They will have the opportunity to go fishing on the rocks, poke conchs, learn how to crack conch out of the shell, how to scale and clean fish. Once they enter the Turtle Park, the idea behind it is to have various booths and vendors set up, where the demonstrations from making conch salad to cleaning fish and to souvenirs will be offered.
“They will also have the opportunity to participate in Kayak Tours. This is where we are headed and some of the ideas we have for the association,” detailed the young entrepreneur.
Questioned about the response from residents, so far, in terms of the association’s proposals, Feaster said, “So far the response has been fairly good.
“Since the creation of the association in October and selecting Board members, I went to our Member of Parliament K. Peter Turnquest, because as it is a non-profit organization we needed resources to pay for the legal fees and others. After speaking with him, he sponsored the needed funds to pay for the fees. Moving forward we will continue to have meetings to bring everyone up to par with respect to where we are going.
“One of the concerns we have, however, is that as it is a non-profit entity we are looking for persons that may have funds allocated for ventures such as this that may be willing to assist us, lending a helping hand in getting it up and running. We are really passionate about the preservation of the Turtle Pond, as the turtle is now an indigenous species here in The Bahamas,” Feaster disclosed.
“That is what we are really looking at doing, because once they are out in the open folks tend to catch them, eat them and whatever else. The pond is big enough to allow them to be in there where they can multiply, but we need funding to help to bring the pond up to a certain standard so that when they lay their eggs, they are able to reproduce freely. That is what we as an association are trying to do.
“So far, the response has been good; many residents are for it because it is for the empowerment of the Cay, it is going to bring jobs, bring light to Sweeting’s Cay and put us out there. We have so much to offer, but it is really not known. That is what I am fighting for,” added Feaster.
While her honey products have yet to hit store shelves, Feaster revealed that last summer she was able to produce honey, which was bottled and sold on an individual basis.