August 20, 2017

Wolgast Tree Farm & Apiary at Duke Farm’s “Farm To Table” Market

Folks who venture out to Duke Farms on Saturdays should make a point to stop by and say hello at the Farm to Table Farmer’s Market.

Len and Mother-In-law, Gloria, in the  Wolgast Tree Farm & Apiary booth at Duke Farms Farm To Table Market in Hillsborough.

Len with his Mother-In-law, Gloria, in the Wolgast Tree Farm & Apiary booth at Duke Farms Farm To Table Market in Hillsborough.

This is the first time Wolgast Tree Farm & Apiary is participating in a farmer’s market as a vendor, and we’ve had a great time meeting people and sharing out enthusiasm for locally produced food – especially for local honey!

The Farm To Table Market at Duke Farms emphasizes  foods and other agricultural products that have been produced within about a 50-mile radius of Duke Farms.  Since we’re only about 10 miles away from Duke Farms our honey and other hive products fit right in.

We’ve been offering three distinct types of honey: “spring wildflower honey,” “fall wildflower honey” and “buckwheat-wildflower honey”.  The difference between the three is based on the flowers from which our bees have been collecting nectar.  Spring flowers produce a light, floral flavored honey, while the fall is darker and tastes more full-bodied.  The buckwheat-wildflower is the darkest of all and has a strong molasses-like flavor that many people find addicting.

Some of our hand-crafted soaps on display.

Some of our hand-crafted soaps on display.

Along with the honey, we’re offering an assortment of handcrafted beeswax lip balms (Lemon-Lavender, Wintergreen, Raspberry, Mandarin Clove) and soaps (Queen Bee Honey Soap, Balsam Honey Hemp Bar, Oatmeal Honey Scrub Bar, Honey Latte Shower Bar), and more.

Customers at the Farm To Table Market at Duke Farms checking out the lovely produce offered by Dogwood Farms.

Customers at the Farm To Table Market at Duke Farms checking out the lovely produce offered by Dogwood Farms.

Chatting with folks who come to the Farm to Table Market has been lots of fun, but so has meeting all the other wonderful vendors and seeing the beautiful fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses and other items they produce.  Two of the vendors, Dogwood Farms and Harvest Moon Farm,  are part of Duke Farms’ Incubator Farm program, which, in conjunction with the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA-NJ),  helps to bring along the next generation of farmers.

Kyle from Harvest Moon Farm showing fresh cut flowers to a visitor at Duke Farms' Farm To Table farmers market.

Kyle from Harvest Moon Farm showing fresh cut flowers to a visitor at Duke Farms’ Farm To Table farmers market.

They each offer a lovely spread of just-picked produce and other items every Saturday.

Green Duchess Farm is right around the corner from our farm on Bennetts Lane (howdy neighbor!).  They produce pastured pork, poultry and eggs, and specialize in raising the Bourbon Red, a Heritage Turkey breed that’s perfect for Thanksgiving (better order your bird early!).

Jessica from Green Duchess Farm talks turkey with a customer who wants to order one of her Bourbon Red Heritage Turkeys for Thanksgiving.

Jessica from Green Duchess Farm talks turkey with a customer who wants to order one of her Bourbon Red Heritage Turkeys for Thanksgiving.

Hot Sauce 4 Good is another local vendor at the market that offers an amazing variety of hot sauces. Many of the ingredients in the hot sauces include produce not only grown by New Jersey farmers, but on farms in Somerset county.  Something else that’s special about Hot Sauce 4 Good is that it’s produced

Hot Sauce 4 Good makes incredible hot sauce that benefits many charities both in New Jersey and around the world.  Many of the ingredients come from New Jersey farms which adds another layer of "good" to an already giving enterprise.

Hot Sauce 4 Good makes incredible hot sauce that benefits many charities both in New Jersey and around the world. Many of the ingredients come from New Jersey farms which adds another layer of “good” to an already giving enterprise.

for the benefit of many deserving charities, both around the world and in the Garden State.  At least $1 from each bottle sold is donated to these charities.  So far the efforts of the good people behind Hot Sauce 4 Good has raised over $65,000. Great hot sauces for great causes!

A trip to Duke Farms is worthwhile by itself, but we think the addition of the Farm to Table Market on Saturdays is even more reason to visit.  How often does one get the opportunity to have access to truly LOCAL, seasonal foods and can chat with the actual persons who produced them?  Plus, the food is delicious and supporting these farmers is an important part of helping to keep Somerset County green.  It’s a honor for us to be among such a good group of people and we hope to see you at the market!

 

For more information on the Farm To Table Market visit: http://dukefarms.org/en/Visit/NEW-Farm-to-Table-Market/

 

 

Wolgast Tree Farm & Apiary Celebrates National Agriculture Day At Quail Brook Senior Center!

 

Allyson Toth, Manager of the Quail Brook Senior Center in Somerset, NJ with Cathy and her Mom, Gloria at the "Beekeeping Essentials" program that was offered as part of Somerset County's National Agriculture Day festivities.

Allyson Toth, Manager of the Quail Brook Senior Center in Somerset, NJ with Cathy (right) and her Mom, Gloria, at the “Beekeeping Essentials” program that was offered as part of Somerset County’s National Agriculture Day festivities.  Tara Kenyon photo.

 

Wolgast Tree Farm and Apiary was proud to be part of the celebrations around Somerset County in observance of National Agriculture Day.   March 18th was the specific day devoted to recognizing and celebrating the abundance provided by American agriculture, but the Somerset County Agricultural Development Board and the Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission organized events throughout the month of March.  These events promoted the importance of agriculture in Somerset County to the local economy, healthy living through locally grown foods, and the benefits to the community through agritourism and land preservation.  Cathy, with lots of help from her mother, Gloria, contributed by offering a program on beekeeping at the Quail Brook Senior Center in Somerset, NJ on March 23rd.

Beekeeping plays a huge role in the success of American agriculture.  Honey bees are known as “the engines that drive agriculture” because of the pollination services they perform.

The strawberry on the left has been properly pollinated, while the one on the right has not.  Which one would you rather eat?

The strawberry on the left has been properly pollinated, while the one on the right has not. Which one would you rather eat?

Even if farmers have land with fertile soil and the right amount of rainfall, when there isn’t sufficient pollination (the transfer of pollen from one flower to another so that plant reproduction can occur), those flowers won’t properly develop into the fruits and vegetables that we eat, if they develop at all.

But it is honey that comes to most people’s minds when they think of honey bees.  Honey bees are the only insect to directly produce food that is eaten by people, and honey is itself an important agricultural product.  Over 300 varieties of honey are produced in the United States.  Many are a result of the pollination work done for agricultural crops, such as orange blossom and blueberry honey.

Seniors tasting the different varieties of honey that Cathy brought to the Quail Brook Senior Center as part of the beekeeping presentation in observance of National Agriculture Day.

Seniors tasting the different varieties of honey that Cathy brought to the Quail Brook Senior Center as part of the beekeeping presentation in observance of National Agriculture Day.  Tara Kenyon photo.

Cathy offered a honey tasting so folks could experience for themselves how the nectar sources that honey bees visit dictate what honey will look, smell and taste like.  She didn’t have 300 types of honey for people to try, but the five that she did have were enough for folks to understand how different – and delicious! – they each were.  People were offered tastes of orange blossom, clover, blueberry, buckwheat and a spring wildflower honey that was produced by Cathy’s bees only a few miles away from the Senior Center.

Local honey at its best!  A jar of spring wildflower honey produced by the honeybees of Wolgast Tree Farm & Apiary right in Somerset.

Local honey at its best! A jar of spring wildflower honey produced by the honeybees at Wolgast Tree Farm & Apiary right in Somerset.  Tara Kenyon photo.

Cathy had a variety of beekeeping items for people to examine, too.  She brought along a small beehive (minus the bees!), some tools that are commonly used in beekeeping like a smoker and veil, different forms of honey (comb honey, creamed honey, a frame of honey), and different types of beeswax products (like beeswax candles).  She also put out a variety of educational brochures for people to take with them that had information about how to tell the difference between honey bees and other stinging insects, how to react to honey bee swarms and some recipes using honey.

Cathy and her Mom, Gloria really enjoyed meeting the people at the Quail Brook Senior Center in Somerset and having an opportunity to talk about honey bees and the role they play in agriculture.  Folks had really great questions and many said that they would now think about honey bees when they visited the produce section of the grocery store or their local farmer’s market.  The Manager at the Quail Brook Senior Center, Allyson Toth, said folks talked about the beekeeping program the whole week.  All in all a great way to celebrate National Agriculture Day!

 

Wolgast Tree Farm & Apiary Has Some Buzz At The State Honey Show

Earlier this month Wolgast Tree Farm & Apiary participated in the New Jersey Beekeepers’ Association (NJBA) State Honey Show which was held in the State House Annex in Trenton.

Cathy was fortunate to accumulate enough points to get "Best Exhibitor" at the 2015 NJBA State Honey Show which was held in the State House Annex earlier this month.

Cathy was fortunate to accumulate enough points to get “Best Exhibitor” at the 2015 NJBA State Honey Show which was held in the State House Annex earlier this month.

This annual event features 23 different classes that evaluated different kinds of extracted honey, comb honey, creamed honey, mead (honey wine), honey and beeswax-based cosmetics, beeswax products like candles, and beekeeping-related photography entries from beekeepers all around the state.

People who encountered the Honey Show display were amazed by all the things that could be made with products from beehives, and they thought it was cool that these products were being locally produced right here in the Garden State.

Last year Cathy entered a few classes and even won some ribbons!  Her Extracted Light Amber Honey took 1st place as did her Creamed Honey, which not only won 1st place but won “Best of Division” as well.

This year Cathy decided to enter a few more classes and was able to accumulate enough points to earn the title of “Best Exhibitor.”  This was quite an accomplishment given that there were 125 entries and so many beautiful items.  It was an honor to be an exhibitor alongside such truly stunning competition.

Winning Best Exhibitor was a great feeling, but entering more classes than last year provided a great learning opportunity to further explore “the craft of beekeeping.”  It’s hard to understand just how much effort goes into

Cathy's Block of Beeswax not only got 1st place, but won Best of Division at the 2015 NJBA State Honey Show.  It seems simple enough to make a block of beeswax (just melt beeswax and pour it in a mold, right?), but its much harder than it looks if one is trying to achieve specific results.  Avoiding cracks, discolored wax and other features that aren't desired takes a lot of care.

Cathy’s Block of Beeswax not only got 1st place, but won Best of Division at the 2015 NJBA State Honey Show.

making a beeswax candle, a block of beeswax, or preparing three jars of the same honey to exactly match each other for a particular class until one actually tries to do it.   It’s a lot of work!  In the case of extracted honey, one of the things that is evaluated is that the three jars each have to be filled to the exact same level and up to the proper location in the jars.  It’s pretty easy to mess that up, especially if your eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be!  Even when she didn’t win a particular class, Cathy enjoyed gaining further insight into the properties of honey or beeswax and the proper handling that is needed to produce high-quality products from the hive.  And just being able to participate in the show to help showcase to the general public all the beautiful things that can be made from what honey bees produce in New Jersey was a big reward in itself.

Cathy plans on entering the State Honey Show next year, but she isn’t expecting to win Best Exhibitor again.  Lightening rarely strikes twice, and the competition is simply too stiff.  And even with all the hard work that goes into it, there’s still some luck involved.

Mostly, it’s a point of pride to be part of the beekeeping community and to display all the beautiful things that can be made because of the work of the wonderful, industrious honey bee, and especially when the honey bees are from Wolgast Tree Farm & Apiary.

The were all the items that Cathy entered in the State honey Show this year, except for the photo on the right which was entered by her Mother.

The were all the items that Cathy entered in the State honey Show this year, except for the photo on the right which was entered by her Mother, Gloria.

Wolgast Tree Farm & Apiary Visits Barack Obama Green Charter High School

Earlier this month Wolgast Tree Farm & Apiary had the pleasure of visiting 9th grade students in the Barack Obama Green Charter High School in Plainfield to share information about honey bees and why they are so important to people.

Cathy brought an observation hive and different types of honey when she visited with students in the Climate Change Classes at the Barack Obama Green Charter High School in Plainfield, NJ earlier his month.

Cathy brought an observation hive and different types of honey when she visited with students in the Climate Change Classes at the Barack Obama Green Charter High School in Plainfield, NJ earlier his month.

Cathy took a frame from one of her honey bee colonies and placed it in an observation hive which she brought with her to class.  It was a great opportunity for students to see some of the inner workings of a honey bee hive. Depending on what was in each individual cell of the beeswax comb they could either see honey bee eggs, honey bee larvae (baby bees), pollen or honey.  Students could watch adult bees walking around the comb to take care of the young or cleaning the comb.  For many, it was the very first time they’d ever seen a honey bee so close.

Like many people, the students weren’t aware of how dependent people are on honey bees.  Honey bees are known as “the engine that drives agriculture” because they play a vital role in the pollination of many agricultural crops.  Pollination is when pollen is transferred from one flower to another.  It’s a very important process because without it the flowers won’t properly develop into fruits, vegetables or nuts that the plants are supposed to produce.  Some of the foods that

Cathy holds up a photo of two strawberries.  The fully developed strawberry on the left has been properly pollinated, while the poorly developed one on the right was not.

Cathy holds up a photo of two strawberries. The fully developed strawberry on the left has been properly pollinated, while the poorly developed one on the right was not.

depend on pollination by honey bees include apples, oranges, strawberries, cherries, almonds, blueberries, cashews, okra, melons, cucumbers, avocados, string beans and many more.  These foods are not only tasty, but they are needed for people to help have a healthy diet.

Cathy described how bees make honey and brought along different types of honey for students to taste.  The honey tasting was a real eye-opener!  Students took coffee stirrer straws and dipped them once into samples of honey made by bees that had been nectaring on clover flowers, orange blossoms, blueberry flowers, buckwheat flowers and coffee flowers, plus some wildflower honey made by the bees at Wolgast Tree Farm and Apiary.  They were AMAZED by how different each kind of honey looked, smelled and especially how they tasted.  It was fun to watch their faces as they first tasted a mild honey like clover or orange blossom, and then something really robust like buckwheat.  Quite a difference!

Students at the Barack Obama Green Charter High School sample different kinds of honey that were made by bees that collected nectar from different types of flowers.

Students at the Barack Obama Green Charter High School sample different kinds of honey that were made by bees that collected nectar from different types of flowers.

Cathy and Len always enjoy the opportunity to share what they do at Wolgast Tree Farm & Apiary with others, and the school program at the Barack Obama Green Charter High School was no different.  Visits with young people offer an opportunity to help shape the future and we are heartened by the interest they showed in this fascinating and important insect.

Many thanks to the  students and staff at Barack Obama Green Charter High School in Plainfield for opening their doors to Wolgast Tree Farm & Apiary!

A student at Barack Obama Green Charter High School checks out the observation hive while she samples some honey during a school program offered by Wolgast Tree Farm & Apiary.

A student at Barack Obama Green Charter High School checks out the observation hive while she samples some honey during a school program offered by Wolgast Tree Farm & Apiary.