Monday, April 25, 2016

Ode to Spring

Green has finally come.
Sweet-water scent of life and
Cool, tender reeds on sandaled feet.

Green brings birds.
Chirps, twitters, warbles, whistles, streams
Masked by leaves, hidden among trees
Song from everywhere and nowhere.

Green wild prairie grass
Untamed spirit of growth.
New emerald spires piercing
Through the brown blanket of last year.

On a graveled path, old railway tracks
Breeze through trees whispers
“Come, walk my shade and relax.”
Delicate quaking jewels are these
Vibrant leaves of youth.

Pink and white petals of crabapple
Blossoms release a fragrant melody for the bees.

Spring has finally come.

By Amber D. Stoner

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Earth Day and Local Honey

Earth Day is just around the corner on April 22. How will you spend the day? Planting a tree, picking up garbage, or maybe prepping to run the first annual Earth Day 5K Bee Fun Run/Walk/River Cleanup on April 23?

Often on Earth Day, we are asked to “Think Global, Act Local”. What might that mean this year? Acting local can lead in many different directions, but the goal is to focus on what is around us, what is near us, and how we care for the environment and people in our neighborhoods. One way we can do that is by supporting local businesses that sustain the local economy and environment.

 Local products support our Minnesota community of farmers, builders, innovators, educators, and artists. We can know where the products come from and what they are made of. Local products mean shorter transport distances which mean less fuel consumed and less pollution emitted into our air and water.

Recently, two local MN beekeepers were compensated for damage done to their hives by an insecticide. These beekeepers have a stake in the local environment and work hard to protect, nurture, and sustain it. In turn, they are supported by people who buy and eat local.

That’s lots of good reasons to choose local products, but what’s really exciting about local honey? The flavors! The taste of honey differs with where and when it is sourced (it’s a little like wine that way), providing honey lovers with unique nuanced flavors you can only get from here. What are some of these local honeys and their unique flavors?

Two small batch honeys, Prairie Clover and Basswood (aka linden tree), are single source, early season honeys meaning they are extracted from the hive in late spring before other flowers bloom. Both of these honeys are clear, light and mild, though Basswood is slightly stronger than the Clover. Both are good multipurpose honeys for cooking or tea because their flavors won’t overpower what you’re using them in.

Meadow Wildflower and Buckwheat are late season honeys. They are extracted from the hive at the end of the growing season in late fall. Most of our Meadow Wildflower comes from south of the cities near Northfield. This signature honey has a more complex flavor than either the Prairie Clover or Basswood because it is from a mixture of flowers. The wildflowers available to the bees vary from month to month and year to year leading to a honey with depth and interest.

For something completely different, try the Buckwheat honey. The white blossoms of buckwheat are so loved by bees that if buckwheat flowers are available, that’s where the bees will be. The Buckwheat honey is harvested from the Rochester area. This honey is dark, strong and less sweet than other honeys. The earthy molasses flavor will surprise you and linger on your palette. It’s chock full of antioxidants and can be a substitute for maple syrup or even cough syrup.

Think global, act local and have a wonderful Earth Day whether you’re joining a cleanup, taking a nature walk, or adding a spoonful of Wildflower honey to your Greek yogurt!

Written by Amber D. Stoner