MERCED, California -- "He's the reason I started it. It's been like, 'What can I do to honor him and create something meaningful?'"
It's not often you find a millennial beekeeper, but Jessica Gonzalez, founded Happy Organics, as a way to honor her father, Salvador.
She created a hemp-derived CBD product line that includes raw honey, chocolate, and muscle balms for the mind and body.
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"We only extract the honey ourselves and we only extract it when we can so we don't take too much from the bees, only if there's excess," Jessica said.
The youngest of nine children, Jessica grew up on a farm in Merced, California, where she learned about bee culture and harvesting honey through the eyes of her dad who was a beekeeper on their family apiary.
Equipped with agriculture knowledge, the young beekeeper went on to study computer science in college, and chose a career combining her love for agriculture and technology.
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However, her blooming career took an unexpected turn, when the tech entrepreneur learned her mother, Angela, was very ill. Jessica returned home and soon after, her mom passed away.
Then, the already grief-stricken family received news that Jessica's dad had terminal cancer.
"He started taking cannabis for pain relief," Jessica said. "That's when I learned about hemp-derived CBD and the benefits of it. It's an amazing plant that does so many things. CBD specifically doesn't get you high. Its anti-inflammatory, its helps with things like sleeplessness, stress, anxiety."
She began making CBD-oil-infused honey and other sweets to comfort her dying father who always had a sweet tooth.
"It was a nicer experience for him to take. After that I started selling it to friends and family as a small income for me while we were we taking care of my dad," Jessica said.
The beekeeping patriarch passed at the end of 2018, but his youngest believes her line of honey will comfort and soothe others who may be suffering.
The Gonzalez family has gone through a tough couple years, the 26-year-old feels she is on the right path of honoring her parents through Happy Organics, a meaningful business with purpose.
"Taking care of bees, creating things that help the environment, are sustainable, things that are natural and healthy for my community -- are all things they respected so I think I'm on the right path."