From the way she thinks about technology in her innovation role at Cox Automotive, to how she uses the hens on her farms to keep her beehives healthy, Mary Fischer-Mullins sees the opportunity for connectivity in everything she does. And she does a lot.
Five days a week, Mary works on the new product innovation team at Cox Automotive, assessing emerging technologies to determine the best way to integrate the tech into the auto industry. Seven days a week, she and her wife own and operate Whim-Wham Art Farm in Canton, Georgia, which has been in her family for three generations.
A Busy Bee
Whim-Wham Art Farm celebrates the art of homesteading, and the connection between food and community. With the help of a few farm hands and her six-year-old twins, Mary prepares and sells fruits, veggies, homemade breads, soaps, jams, jellies and other pickled items at the Canton Farmer’s Market and local stores in the area.
On the farm, she keeps hens, bees and worms, in addition to many plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables. Mary was thrilled when the honeybees came to the Atlanta Cox Campus, as she runs what she calls a “Bees in Residence” program on her farm. Whim-Wham works with Bobbee MacBee’s, a local beekeeping business, to maintain a honeybee hive on the farm. She knows how integral bees are to our ecosystem, and wants to provide a place where they have lots of food and the help they need.
In fact, Mary innovatively uses her hens to the help the bees; she puts fences around the hives and places the hens inside to help control bugs. “Bees and hens have a symbiotic relationship — hens eat up the dead bees and clean up any type of ants or insects that might be harmful to the hive,” she explained.
From Bees to Business
Part of Mary’s role at Cox Automotive is engaging with the Cox startup programs, including Engage and Techstars Atlanta. Through Engage she met Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, the founder of Bee Downtown, and introduced her to Bobbee MacBee’s, who assists Bee Downtown with hive installations and support as local beekeeper resources as needed. Mary stayed connected with Bee Downtown and followed the company’s journey all the way to the Cox Campus, where Bee Downtown installed four honey bee hives this past June.
For Mary, being part of a company that cares about sustainability and the environment as much as she does is important. “Cox has a huge footprint, and anything we can do to help make that footprint cleaner or give back is great,” she said.