Chris, Abby, Phillipe, Sue & Stu
Abby was 9 months old when we collected our first harvest in 1984. She joined us as we extracted and bottled the honey right in the kitchen of Chris’s parents house across from Sachem Pond. Many of you met Abby on the porch of the yellow house down the Neck where she began greeting and serving customers when she was 10 or at the Farmer Market until she was 23.
Abby married Louis Phillipe Vanier on June 28, 2013 in the field above the farm. That morning, there were 3 simultaneous island lightening strikes but by 3 pm the skies cleared for the ceremony and the community gathered with joy and love and island stripped bass, venison, wildflowers, oysters and more. It definitely took a village and the village celebrated! Abby and Phil continue to bring their heartfelt enthusiasm, quick minds, and joy of learning to their students in Hayward, CA. Those kids are fortunate to have them!
Stuart attended the opening Block Island Farmer’s Market in utero. Potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini bread and honey were sold at the Bee Farm table that year up at the school on High St. It was the beginning of an island institution, one that Stuart would join as a young artist 20 years later. Stuart is finding a rhythm of sculpting and painting his way across the country during the winter soaking up inspiration on top of mountains, in Austin galleries and at west coast farmer’s markets. He finds his way back to the farm to create under the shade of the maples during the summer and sell locally and in locations on both coasts.
Chris has tended the bees from the beginning and is the man behind the scenes at the farm. He tends the hives between working at the Nature Conservancy, caring for his oysters, and fishing. He has his fingers literally on the pulse of the bees, the hives and the honey. With strong, capable help at the honey plant, the crop is brought in, extracted and bottled. Yeah team! Chris will travel to the Caribbean this winter to aid in conservation efforts in the region. No frozen pipes for him!
Sue began in the field and ended up in the office. As the main marketer for the farm – whether selling, writing or designing she has an amazing group of island folks who join the team. We want to thank Jeremy Roll for her 10 years of dedicated focus, attention and love that she gave the bees, the honey and all the customers. We miss her and bless her in her new mainland endeavors. Sue will travel to Newport this winter to finish her post Masters certificate and prepare to sit or her RI license in Mental Health Counseling.
We want to thank you for riding the waves of island farming with us over the years… the crests of warm clear bounty and the ebbs of hurricanes and fog. This year we experienced both yet we are grateful for the bees and the blossoms.
As we turn towards 2014 we mark our 30th year of Littlefield Bee Farm. In 1984 we bought 6 colonies from Tim May who ran the hives for Reverend Stan Pratt of Red Shutters. Stan and Winnie sold honey on the island’s west side for 40 years, so for 70 years and counting, the honey bees have blessed the island by pollinating its berries, apples, rose hips and beach plums and by gathering the sweet stuff generations of Block Island honey lovers have enjoyed. Thank you bees!
Island weather determines the bees’ life and our honey crop! With rain and cloud cover, the bees stay home waiting for clear skies to gather nectar. When the sun shines, which they use to navigate, they forage the fields, flying from blossom to blossom sometimes ranging as far as 3 miles to bring home the sweet stuff.
A wet, cool June translated into 20-year record low Blackberry Honey crop, which was sad for the bees as well as honey lovers. Then the clear, blue, sweet no-hurricane fall offered day after day of perfect weather for the tiny Bee Farm workers. The bountiful goldenrod honey extracting and bottling kept us busy right up to Thanksgiving. So there is plenty of cream style honey this year!
Enjoy the warmth of your hearth and the sweetness of the season. Blessing to you and yours.