You can find local honey at Shaker Square’s Indoor Market, Mentor’s Krizman Farmers Market, and at Lake Farmpark in Kirtland.
Today, we’re at the Countryside Conservancy’s Farmer’s Market at Old Trail School in Bath talking with a couple of local beekeepers.
“Hi, I’m Susan Schmidt of Schmidt Family Farms. But people call me the honey lady.”
Schmidt farms in Medina County.
Daniel Greenfield brings his honey to market from his farm in Peninsula.
“Greenfield Berry Farm. Yeah, I’m the beekeeper. And we have about five hives. They produced about 250 pounds of honey this year. They forage a lot of course at the berry farm, and so the honey is influenced by the berries themselves.
Over the years recently we’ve heard some scary stuff about bees. How’s it going lately?
“Bees, like other things in agriculture, they have a tough time of it. So they’re susceptible to mites, and there are a lot of problems with this climate. We don’t have the big problems of colony collapse, at least that I know of. But there are definitely some challenges that go with beekeeping.”
The Schmidt family had raised organic vegetables, flowers, herbs and eggs for many years at their farm about 25 miles south of Cleveland. Then an Ohio State University Extension service agent put a bug in Susan Schmidt’s head about bee-keeping.
“There’s a wonderful workshop called the Tri-County Beekeepers Association workshop, and it was the next week. So when the extension agent told us, I went down to the workshop and learned all about beekeeping.” :
That was about 15 years, and a lot of beestings ago.
You wouldn’t know it though, when you see her. And customers make a beeline when they do.
Schmidt says her bees don’t mind the weather.
“ In the winter, the bees stay inside their hive. They stay in a cluster, in a ball, and they wiggle their little wing muscles which generates so much heat that it stays warm and they keep the queen warm in the middle of the cluster. They don’t hibernate. How many hives have you got there? Well, I keep 10 on my properties and I rent hives from somebody else. Probably 60 right now.”
Her bees forage all spring and summer on acres of wildflowers, and she extracts honey from the hives once a year
“Anywhere from, 40 to 80 pounds a hive, generally speaking. How many different varieties of honey are you offering here? Just one variety of honey. But I’m making something called the honey jam, which is nothing but honey and crystallized fruit. At our house, it doesn’t make it to your toast.”
Beth Knorr, manager of the countryside conservancy’s farmer’s market, suggests another way to top your toast, from Daniel Greenfield’s farm.
“One of my favorite products of his is hickory syrup. We don’t have anybody else bringing hickory syrup. It’s got a nice smoky flavor and it’s great on pancakes and in baked goods, too. It’s a really great change-up from maple syrup every now and then. I know my kids would probably drink the whole bottle if I let them.”
“ How do you make syrup hickory flavor?
“Hickory syrup’s a little different in that we take the bark of the shagbark hickory tree and we boil that and steep that for a long period of time. We reduce that with honey and sugar till it’s just the right consistency and it’s quite delicious. Did you invent this? No, I know others are doing it as well. Amish down in Southern Ohio are doing it and also I know some folks in Indiana as well.”
Greenfield sells his honey and syrup here at the Countryside Conservancy Farmers Market and at his berry farm in Peninsula. Both the Greenfield Berry Farm and the Schmidt Family farm also have community-supported agriculture programs. Customers help defray some of the costs by coming to the farms once a week throughout the growing season to pick up produce.
Visitors to the Schmidt Family Farm enjoy the wildflowers almost as much as the bees do.
“We have 50 acres and I do certified organic vegetables on about an acre of it. It must be beautiful as well. Yes, it is. I love it.”
The next time you can forage at the Countryside Conservancy’s Farmer’s Market will be a week from Saturday.
Next Friday on Quick Bites, we’ll tour the market to give you a preview.