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F eature Story

Like Bees to the Honeycomb Collaborative

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Swadeshi (as prescribed by Gandhi): At the heart of Swadeshi is honoring and celebrating local economy, with people enjoying a right livelihood from the gifts of the natural resources of their own bio-regions. Swadeshi is people-centered economics.

N ashville Farmers’ Market artisans, farmers and chefs collaborate to make original products to sell in their booths or in the market shops and restaurants; the synergy goes unnoticed unless partners choose to recognize each other. This is a story of one group, but many vendors work together; it is the natural inclination of the farmers’ market community.

* quote Central to the Honeycomb Collaborative is pure, raw Tennessee honey...

Central to the Honeycomb Collaborative is pure, raw Tennessee honey harvested in the mountains of the Cherokee National Forest by Strange Honey Farm. Gary Strange and his family manage 1700-2000 honeybee hives using natural management techniques. Carol Hagen has worked exclusively with Gary Strange since 2014. As Tennessee Artisan Honey, Carol uses Gary’s sourwood honey to make artisan creamed honey; and she offers to Nashville chefs, shops and market visitors a selection of pure honey—sourwood, Tennessee mountain and dark wildflower honey.

It’s been a tough few years for vendors who remained at the Nashville Farmers’ Market through the Tennessee State Museum construction and market renovations. Faced with this dilemma, Carol explains, “In a prior life I worked as a jeweler. I learned to reach out to other craftsmen whose work complemented my own. As a farmers’ market vendor, it made sense to apply that same practice. When we work together, we excel and everyone benefits.”

And so the Honeycomb Collaborative began. “Honey is a standalone that also compliments other products,” Carol says, explaining the natural tendency to reach out to fellow vendors and create entrepreneurial partnerships. Tennessee Artisan Honey works in consortium with revered colleagues such as these six vendors at the Nashville Farmers’ Market:

Erin Body Care

Erin Hewgley develops natural skin products. Erin purchases dark wildflower honey for her original Skin Glow Hydrating Mask. This product was doing well when Carol asked Erin if she had a use for crystallized honey. (Crystallization is a natural result of honey getting too cold in the winter.) Erin developed Edible Facial Exfoliate, which quickly became one of her bestselling products.

The Broth Stop

Executive Chef Jay Zubov produces a collection of broths and sources his ingredients from local farmers and market vendors. His commitment to preparing healthy foods using fresh ingredients led him to the honey booth. Tennessee Artisan Honey Beef Broth is a perfect base for soups, stews and rice. Hot sipping broth is available on the weekends.

Belfair Farm/Ladies of the Lamb

Elaine and Howard Dustin raise Dorper and Katahdin sheep in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. They offer a lamb CSA or individual portions from their market freezers. In an effort to provide snacks for Nashville tourists, Elaine sought the help of Shelbyville chef Jonathon Austin, who combined lamb and peppers with wildflower honey to make habanero lamb jerky. Visitors to their booth can also sample sheep milk cheese with sourwood honey.

Bella Nashville

Owner Jonas Stein and manager Alex Resnick and their crew make some of the best brick oven pizza in Nashville. They make their own mozzarella cheese and combine locally sourced seasonal ingredients for their toppings. Sourwood honey sweetens their fresh pizza dough, sauces and teas.

The Batch team picked up Tennessee Artisan Honey’s artisan creamed honey in 2014; now they display vintage glass Tennessee honey bears in the market shop. Batch staff are amazing partners to local artisans and genuine leaders at the farmers’ market. Batch makes it easy for small businesses to reach a larger market.

Gardens of Babylon

Nashville’s largest family-owned garden center and landscape company specializes in natural products and serves as an anchor for the Nashville Farmers’ Market. Manager Trevor Bradshaw pursued a honey connection early on by featuring Tennessee honey bears in their gift shop. This year, in the dead of winter, Carol asked Trevor if he would consider a display of bears, pints and quarts. This arrangement proved to be so successful that now the display is permanent and they recommend each other daily.

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