Meet GLBC’s newest edition to the hive, Melissa! We’re so excited to have Melissa on board as our General Manager. Melissa joined us last month after an in-depth hiring search across West Michigan. Melissa describes herself as a “Jane of all trades and master of few,” which you’ll learn after reading about her history, home life, hobbies, and volunteering. As GLBC continues to expand, we’re so grateful to be able to have Melissa join us and continue showing everyone what all the buzz is about at GLBC.
Our new team member was born in Detroit and was the youngest of ten children. When she was seven, her mom, dad, and one brother moved to a small town in Oakland County until she was 22. Shortly after, she met her husband and his job took them to Tennessee, then to southern Michigan, to New York and then here to West Michigan.
Melissa’s previous job was at Country Dairy in New Era where she was the Bakery Manager. She started the bakery for them and during that time, learned her favorite thing to do in the bakery was custom baking desserts: her two favorites being cakes and sugar cookies. Melissa taught herself how to bake and now she enjoys making baked goods in her free time.
Before the bakery, Melissa owned a few businesses and earned her real-estate license while homeschooling her four children. Melissa loves being a part of her children’s education and said, “My favorite thing about homeschooling has been having the ability to choose what they learn about and also having the ability to really focus on character training. My children are all very humble and kind.” Melissa has just one more child to homeschool and another who is a senior in high school. Melissa’s other two children who are out of high school now have kids of their own, making Melissa officially a grandmother, which she called “the absolute greatest honor.”
Melissa calls herself a friend of Jesus and her faith is prominent in her life. Melissa’s hobbies include working on her hobby farm. At Melissa’s farm, she tends to her horse and other farm animals. “I call it the funny farm,” Melissa said. Melissa’s horse is a 27 year-old Palomino named Chief who is “as stubborn as can be.” She also has one dog (Lily), two Nigerian Dwarf Goats goats (Daisy and Sweetie), two Bronze Turkeys (Mrs.Hen and Jake), three Toulouse Geese (Lucy, Rocko and Quacky), four old hens who don’t lay anymore (Madeline, Chubby Cheeks, Buff and November), and six cats.
Melissa also raises her own bees on her property, which is not a job requirement at GLBC but certainly one reason why we knew she’d be a great fit. Melissa had been interested in beekeeping for several years but didn’t take any steps until her husband bought her a hive for Christmas a couple years ago. Even then, she was hesitant to get started. “I was very intimidated by it all and procrastinated for a bit until the Great Lakes Bee Company was looking for volunteers to help with bee pickups and I decided I was ready.” We have had so much fun showing Melissa all the further complexities that come with commercial beekeeping. “They are intriguing insects and I love learning more about them everyday,” she said.
Volunteering at our Bee Pick-Up Days wasn’t Melissa’s first introduction to GLBC however. In fact, she first tried our honey back in 2017 when she wasn’t much of a honey fan at all. “One taste of Hasselman’s and I was hooked,” she said. Since then, Melissa has been an avid fan and loyal customer of Hasselman’s Honey. She went from just using honey as the occasional sweetener in her tea to baking with it and even making jam! Melissa’s entire family has hopped on the honey train. “My husband who also never liked honey is a happy customer too.” Melissa suggests everyone try our new lavender honey infusion. “It’s my favorite. It is absolutely amazing drizzled on Country Dairy’s Grandpa’s Vanilla [icecream].”
Along with her farm animals and bees, Melissa also tends to a beautiful garden on her property. Talk about a triple threat! Melissa’s garden area is 5000 square feet with 13 raised beds, a “she shed”, and soon to be greenhouse made with recycled windows. “I like to grow garlic and radishes the best, but I also grow other vegetables and flowers too,” said Melissa. “I have a grape vine that is doing very well and I make grape juice from it.” She also has perennial gardens with lavender (Melissa’s favorite), iris, phlox, lilies, coneflowers, and poppies.
Between work and raising kids, Melissa still finds time to volunteer. A cause that is near and dear to her heart is 4-H, a non-profit dedicated to bettering the futures of young children through youth development. Melissa’s children were able to participate in programs dedicated to helping future generations succeed. Melissa loved the organization and the experiences they were able to provide for her children so much that she decided to become the Vice President of the 4-H Small Market in Oceana County. Melissa meets with the committee throughout the year to look at the current rules and to make necessary changes to better the program. They are getting ready for 2021 Awards Banquet currently, where the children are recognized for all their hard work.
Earlier, Melissa called herself a “Jane of all trades and a master of none” but we want to add that she’s forgetting the most important part of the saying: “A Jack of all trades and a master of none is oftentimes better than a master of one”. Melissa has lots in store as she continues to transition to this new position. In closing, Melissa added “I hope to never lose the drive to want to learn about other things. I encourage everyone to not be afraid to try something new. I have failed at a lot, but it’s in those failures I’ve learned who I am and what I love to do.” Well said Melissa! GLBC is excited for all that we can teach Melissa and even more excited for all that Melissa can teach GLBC.