Tag Archives: honey


Recently a question regarding “local” honey was posed to our East Nashville Farmers Market blog. We asked Carol Hagen, one of the two beekeepers who serve on our board, to answer.

QUESTION:  Is the local honey sold at this market from this area or Goodlettsville only? I can only seem to find honey from there, and would like something generated a little closer to us.

ANSWER:  Actually there are beekeepers throughout the Nashville area, including Johnson’s Honey Farm in Goodlettsville. Currently, much is being made of “local”; it’s absolutely true that raw (unpasteurized), lightly filtered honey contains pollen that helps to build a natural resistance to local pollen allergies.  However, the impression that “local” means within a couple of miles of your home is an exaggeration.

For starters, seasonal winds blow pollen for several miles and bees can fly many miles to collect pollen and honey for their hive.  Farmers seek pollination contracts from beekeepers, so it’s not uncommon for honey bee hives to be driven to regional crops. Often overlooked by the consumer is the bee’s need for clean water, both for drinking and spraying onto the honey comb to keep the hive cool in the summer time.  So consumers may want to consider, IF “local” refers to a circumference of only a few miles of their home, does their locale include chemical free plants and water?

bee with pollen

Truth is the majority of beekeepers who sell their honey at farmers markets and in local stores often maintain twenty-five to several hundred hives in regional apiaries. Beekeepers with small apiaries harvest less than 300 pounds of honey, which is not enough honey to bottle, label, market and sell at a profit.

When it comes to eating honey for local pollen allergies, I’ve started suggesting people consider the Regional Gardening Zones  ( http://www.garden.org/zipzone/ ) as a guide for local honey.  Similar species of plants grow within districts and regions of Tennessee.  Honey collected on thoughtfully cultivated farms or in wilderness areas are excellent sources of raw honey, all of which contain regional pollens. Bees forage for pollen, but pollen also clings to their bodies after they visit a nectar source. Professional beekeepers locate their apiaries near fresh spring water, ponds, creeks or rivers; not surprising, property with clean water often supports an abundance of nectar sources.

The new garden zone maps place Nashville in the 6B-7A zones; both zones sweep the length of Tennessee. We live in the Broadleaf Forest, which historically provides a tasty variety of honey; including clover, the standard American honey. Our middle Tennessee clover honey is especially good because it is a combination of cultivated and feral clovers: white, yellow, red or crimson clovers, and wild Alslike clover. With such a wide variety of clover species, the color of clover honey may vary within the same region.

Wildflower is honey made up of several species of wildflower and tree nectars. Beekeepers may wait until the end of the spring or fall nectar flows to extract all of their capped honey at once; this honey offers a blend of flavors that tastes unique to the available flowers. Tennessee also has crop specific  honey: black locust, basswood, sourwood, blackberry, rose, magnolia, tulip, fireweed or goldenrod.  Bees placed in cultivated fields may yield other specific honey flavors: buckwheat, canola or rape seed, sunflower and Russian sage.

bees 1

A beekeeper may label their honey with a title other than “wildflower” if they can identify and confirm their honey crop is from one nectar source.  Using Sourwood Honey as an example, honey boxes filled with capped and uncapped honey prior to the Sourwood Tree nectar flow are removed.  New boxes filled with empty drawn out foundation are added to each hive.  After the Sourwood nectar flow ends, which means after the sourwood flowers are finished, the beekeeper will mark each sourwood honey box and let the bees cap their honey cells.  Once the honey is ready, only sourwood honey frames are extracted together and no other type of honey is added in the filtering step. The reward is a jar of highly prized Tennessee Sourwood Honey.

The Nashville Farmers Market community includes artisans who infuse honey with herbs or essential oils.  There are honey products, such as “creamed honey” which is a mild, spreadable honey made from controlled crystallization.  Whipped honey is made by blending honey for an extended time which infuses air into the honey; this also results in a spreadable honey. Honey butter is a blend of honey and butter, which is considered a dairy product.

The Goodlettsville honey you refer to is very likely Johnson Honey Farm.  The Johnson Honey Farm was established in Goodlettsville in 1918 and remains a family owned and run farm.  It is a large apiary and does business throughout Tennessee. The Johnsons also partner with apiaries in Georgia and Florida. When you consider the challenges of farming, it’s quite an accomplishment for one family to sustain the delicate practice of beekeeping for nearly 100 years.  Success does not mean they are no longer conscientious about their farming techniques, it means they have evolved with the market and have managed to remain large enough to support their family.

Tennessee is fortunate to have both large scale apiaries and serious hobbyist beekeepers who maintain three to twenty-five hives. You may find a honey product you love to use or you may consider tasting a variety of honey flavors. Either way, I suggest you consider “local” honey to be from the larger Nashville area, middle Tennessee; and include East and West Tennessee within the Garden Zones 6B-7A.  This approach enables you to benefit from a larger spectrum of naturally occurring pollens found in flavorful, raw honey…Tennessee pure, golden honey.

— Carol Hagen, Queen Bee Pollinators

Support Your Local Farmer With One Meal At A Time

10013743_10202860779534696_475239739_nCHALLENGE ACCEPTED?

Can you commit to cooking just one meal a week that is completely purchased at the market while supporting your local farmer? It’s simple.

You can buy local corn tortillas, onions, lettuce, ground beef, and cheese.  Then top that with salsa for an easy quesadilla supper.

Or you could buy fresh berries or peaches, croissants, granola, jam or honey and finish with yogurt or cheese for a gourmet farmers market breakfast. 

Of course, if cooking just isn’t your thing there is no reason to worry.  You can also find plenty of prepared foods from our vendors and food trucks as well.  

After you see how truly easy and delicious it can be, you will surely want to add more. Please share your results with us. Have fun!

We look forward to seeing you and your family on Wednesday.  

Opening Day Market Celebration Rescheduled for May 21st, 2014

Our new location in beautiful Shelby Park next to the children's playground next to the baseball diamonds

Our new location in beautiful Shelby Park next to the children’s playground next to the baseball diamonds

It’s Market Time Again!!!  We are excited to report that we had a very nice turn out for the very first market day of the season at the East Nashville Farmers Market.  Although it was a bit wet outside we enjoyed serving your families and a chance to splash in the puddles.

Be sure to stop by on May 21st to catch all of the Grand Opening Activities that were postponed due to the inclement weather.  We will have face painting, a farm animal petting zoo, live music from Johnny Campbell & the Bluegrass Drifters, yoga, a seed planting activity from Plant the Seed, food trucks, ice cream and much, more.

We look forward to seeing all of your friendly faces with us again this week.  Our local vendors are ready to serve the needs of your families with their bushels of fresh produce (including fresh strawberries), specialty food items (pimento cheese, salsa, honey), baked goods, dairy items, grass-fed beef, and more.  It is also a great time to pick up some plants and compost if you want to grow your own herbs and tomatoes.
See you there!

Come and join us for our rescheduled Opening Market Celebration at our New Location in Shelby Park, Wednesday, May 21st.

This weekly producers only market is a great place to find locally sourced foods from grass fed meats to organically raised produce, fresh pastured eggs, artisan craft cheese to honey.  The market will be open from 3:30-7pm and feature hourly giveaways, food trucks, a barnyard petting zoo, yoga, face painting, free seed planting activity, CSA sign-ups and live music!  Fun for all ages!  SNAP/EBT Accepted.  Leashed dogs are welcome.

This week’s music will be provided by Johnny Campbell and the Bluegrass Drifters.

To find our new market location in Shelby Park take Shelby Ave directly into the park once you cross 20th Street. Follow the winding road down the hill to the lake and turn right. Continue until you pass the Old Timers baseball field and must turn left onto Davidson St. You are now driving along the Cumberland river, just pass the baseball field on the left you will find our farmers market on the left next to the children’s play ground. The photo below is the location.