From the bustling streets of a major city in Asia to a quiet hamlet in Alberta: William and Mika Munsey are chasing their dream of opening a new business.
Fifteen years ago, William and Mika moved from Hong Kong to New Sarepta, a hamlet with a population of just over 500. They purchased a berry farm.
“We wanted to raise our kids under those big blue skies I remembered from my childhood,” Will said.
“I told my wife: ‘All we will have to do is stand at the gate and take people’s money while they pick berries.'”
But it wasn’t nearly that easy.
“It turns out, it was a lot of work. I didn’t understand what farming was,” Will said.
He began to look into a new venture: beekeeping. The experience was life-changing.
“Bees are beautiful. Everything about them is beautiful.
“I had two hives… then I had four… then I had 12. Now I have more than 50.”
He began producing mead, a fermented mixture of honey, water and yeast. Will adds berries from the area to create new flavours.
With dreams to expand, Will sent a proposal to the County of Leduc to lease the old fire hall. Construction has begun on a new hall. On Nov. 10, the county accepted his proposal.
“They really liked it. Now we are in the middle of lease negotiations,” he said. “I’m going to put in a local shop, with all things made around here,” Will said. “The meadery will be filled with all the equipment a winery in southern B.C. would have.”
The couple hopes the new venture will bring new life to New Sarepta.
“I have never been a creative person. Now I find I am. I love what I’m doing. I want to bring that feeling of change to this community.”
The business is currently known as Highwater Honey and Mead but will become Old Station Honey and Mead Company once they move in to the new space in 2021.
Will said the experience has been incredibly emotional.
“Being part of the community and doing something people support… My world has just exploded,” he said.
“I want to take a hard-working agricultural past and do something through a really troubled present to take us to a new future, one still based on hard work and people pulling together.”
Will said the business’ close proximity to the Edmonton International Airport and the duo’s connection to Hong Kong means they may be able to more easily export the mead to Asian markets.
“I have so much emotion invested in this now. I can’t imagine stopping. I may get stopped because I’m 59 years old,” he laughed.
“When do you stop caring about something you’re passionate about? I don’t think you do.”