The story begins in the early 1970s in the beautiful foothills of Boulder, Colorado also known as the birthplace of the natural foods industry.
In the early days, Bart Utley, a young, hippie entrepreneur began selling local honey out of the back of his van exemplifying the spirit of the 70’s. Bart named the small operation Madhava Honey and soon realized the buzzing honey business was pretty sweet and quickly enlisted some family to help.
This was a chosen family, conceived at the very first Rainbow Family gathering during the summer of 1972. From this experience came the birth of an idea, to establish a commune with a honey business at its core, to reflect their ideals and support their intended lifestyle. And the first Madhava family was born with the following founders… Bart Utley, H.M. Ball III, Peter Haykus, Carol Martinelli, Jay and Rebecca Jackson and George (Chip) Stark.
The founders, full of energy and vibe, followed through on the commune plan immediately. Bart had already begun buying honey from local beekeepers and the rest of the group came together in an effort to purchase a farm southeast of Longmont, CO. They moved right in and began business as Madhava Honey, Ltd.
The scenic, 100-year-old farmhouse was the perfect backdrop for the commune’s needs. An outbuilding was converted into the honey packing room, all outfitted with recycled materials right down to the leftover paint, pale green light and purple production room.
Although the communal living didn’t quite last, it led to the hiring of Craig Gerbore. Chip and Craig were good friends and in 1976, Craig came on board and began running Madhava as a one-man operation.
With the help of many dedicated beekeepers and hard-working honeybees, Craig maintained the vision of sustainable, natural sweeteners as the company began to grow in the years that followed. Craig continued to have a hand in day-to-day operations for the next 3 decades and remains on the Board of Directors to this day.
We continue to uphold the vision of our founders by committing to making life sweet, naturally. Madhava is still privately owned and operated in the beautiful Colorado foothills, bringing the highest-quality, sustainable sweeteners from the family farm to your table. Madhava has blossomed beyond honey and we have become a trusted leader in natural sweeteners, dedicated to providing healthier alternatives to highly processed, refined sugars and artificial sweeteners. We’re on one naturally sweet mission, to create better-for-you options for all of your favorite sweet treats.
Madhava is a Sanskrit word Bart had chosen meaning “one born in a pool of honey and sprinkled with pollen”. To the founders, it was translated as “Born of Honey”. We believe it is the perfect name for a company that was a true pioneer in the natural foods industry and born out of the simple love for the sweet life!
Our honey is 100% pure, and we take every precaution to make sure it stays that way. With the startling decline in honeybee populations due to disease, we only purchase honey from beekeepers that use conscientious beekeeping practices, including refraining from feeding their bees corn syrup. This ensures that we are providing a premium product that is healthy to our customers as well as the bees. Our bees also live close to crops that need pollinating, including clover, sunflower and alfalfa, so we’re fueling a symbiotic relationship between honey production and pollination.
Madhava Natural Sweeteners has been packing honey for over 40 years. Some of our local Colorado beekeepers that delivered our first honey drums in 1973 are still our suppliers to this day. As we’ve continued to grow, we have established long-standing and strong relationships with our valued beekeepers as we wouldn’t have the sweet stuff without them!
We believe in the curative properties of honey, and try to do as little as possible to process our honey. Unlike filtered and heated commercial honeys, Madhava honeys are low temperature melted and gently strained. We think that’s pretty sweet!
We traveled all the way to the wildflower fields of Brazil to work with local farmers to harvest their golden nectar. Our Organic Honey is certified according to USDA’s National Organic Program and doesn’t use synthetically produced fertilizers, antibiotics, pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides. Not only does it bring you the purest honey possible, but supports long term health and viability of soil, water, air, climate change, biodiversity, and the beekeeping community in the Amazon.
In an effort to help the declining honeybee population, we launched “Sweet Earth Project,” a corporate initiative to help save the bees and enhance sustainability. We contribute 10 cents of every jar of organic honey sold to non-profit organizations working to save the bees and enhance sustainability through education, awareness and action.
We call this honey ‘ambrosia’ because of its rarity. With only small quantities produced each year in the Rocky Mountain Region and the upper Midwest, it is one of the most covetable honeys in the world! And the rich, floral aroma and distinctive flavor don’t hurt, either. Never overheated or force-filtered, our Ambrosia has been called the finest honey in the world, and we’d tend to agree.
In 2003, we were proud to be the first company to introduce organic agave to the U.S. market. Known then as the “super sweetener,” agave nectar is made from the natural juice of the blue agave plant, organically grown and sustainably farmed in the Sierra Madres region of Mexico. Our all-natural, organic, Non-GMO Project Verified sweetener has continued to grow in popularity, and we’ve expanded our product line to include flavored syrups for pancakes, coffee, baking and more!
Agave nectar is derived from an extremely hearty desert plant, the Weber Blue Agave. Since it receives its annual water needs from the local late summer rainy season, agave can be grown without any irrigated water. And since it thrives in poor soil, it’s naturally pest-resistant. These factors help eliminate the need for pesticides and chemical fertilizers, making it even easier to maintain agricultural practices that meet organic certification standards.
The processing is pretty simple. We extract the agave juice by pressing the heart of the plant. The juice is then filtered to remove any plant debris and heated to achieve thicker nectar consistency. A few more passes through the filter help us achieve a range of flavors, from dark to light, and we’re done! Luckily, agave is naturally gluten-free, allergen-free, vegan and has a low-glycemic index – no more energy spikes!
Our core values as natural sweetener company are easily met with this sustainable and organic sweetener. Blue Agave Tequilana is native to Mexico’s rugged terrain in the state of Jalisco and has been farmed since the days of the Aztec for food and fiber.
Madhava sources only certified organic agave nectar, which supports long term health and viability of soil, water, air, climate change, biodiversity, and the farming community by not using synthetically produced fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides. When grown organically, agave provides food and shelter for native wildlife. We’re also fair to farmers. Madhava is Fair Trade registered through FairTrade USA, sourcing almost 12% of agave from Fair Trade Certified farmers and processors.
Our eco efforts go beyond the farms and onto our production line. Several of our suppliers collect all of the pulp fiber byproduct and reuse it as biomass to feed the energy needs of the self-sustaining manufacturing plant. We have also converted all of our shipping supplies to reusable plastic totes, eliminating the need for excessive trash and cardboard recycling. Plastic totes are even sold to local farm suppliers for reuse in other applications.
Coconut sugar has been used as a traditional sweetener for thousands of years in South and South-East Asia. The sap is collected from cut flower buds of the coconut palm and needs very little processing from there. The sweet nectar simply dries to produce caramel brown crystals that are ready to use! Wrap that up with a sweet little bow – it’s also naturally rich in a number of key vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including potassium, zinc, iron and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6. No other sugars can brag about that!
Coconut palm sweeteners are the most sustainable sweetener in the world – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says so! Palm trees can survive in damaged soil and actually restore the surrounding environment. Since they can survive on the beach, they are impervious to drought conditions and can continue to produce their nectar in harsh conditions. The coconut trees we use are organically grown and benefit the surrounding ecosystems by never using synthetically produced fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides.
Farmers in traditional communities throughout Southeast Asia, specifically Indonesia, consider the coconut palm the “Tree of Life,” and why shouldn’t they? The trees provide multiple accessible products through which they can earn a better living. Coconut trees also produce up to four times the sugar per acre than cane sugar while using less than 20% of the soil nutrients and water. The production of organic coconut sugar has a high potential for lifting these farmers into a better life while creating a net benefit to their surrounding environment.
I won’t lie, getting to taste all the sweet recipes and products we develop from our honey, agave and coconut sugar core. Sweet way to start every day.
I also love being able to work with our Madhava team to cultivate close, personal relationships with our growers in Mexico for agave, Indonesia for our coconut sugar, Western Slope for our local US honey and Brazil for our organic honey. It is so important that we share the same high standards for quality and true artisanal craftsmanship. They care as much as we care, which makes for sweet partnerships.
Living in Colorado where we have access to an amazing organic community of entrepreneurs and of our food sources. We get to be inspired by nature every day and the bounty of our agricultural system in a clean, pure way. I am an avid outdoors person, tackling the Colorado 14er peaks, hiking up to hot springs, paddling whitewater, biking to do errands and camping anywhere but a campground.
I’m inspired by my team and the effort they put forth every single day. They always seem to make today a little sweeter than yesterday. Cheesy? Perhaps, but it’s honest.
My family. I wouldn’t be who I am without them. I love to weight train and play around with calorie management. The fact that math and science work is pretty cool (ok, and maybe a bit nerdy). When I have time, I love to golf, hike, and work on home improvement projects.
Sweetest part of my job is sharing our better-for-you sweet products with every cupboard in the nation! It is a pleasure to bring uniqueness and great taste to so many new categories with agave sweetened coffee syrups, pancake syrups and drink mixes, just to name a few. Products that everyone can feel good about eating!
I can’t imagine a sweeter husband and 5 teenage children in my life. I’m truly blessed.
Coming into work every day to be with so many friendly worker bees.
My life is super sweet because my husband, Kevin, and I live and play in the beautiful Colorado mountains.
Finance engineering for the sweetest products on earth.
My life is super sweet because of the fine-and-fresh Colorado air, and super-sweet sunshine.