December on Honey Grove~

And just like that, the wheel has turned yet again, and we have crossed the threshold of the Winter Solstice.

And believe it or not, the light will soon be returning, for within the next moon’s cycle, the days will become noticeably longer.

And you can be sure that we celebrated the returning of the light here at Honey Grove, with feasting and friends, and storytelling, and comedic skits, and acts of magic and music making. There were candles lit, while fires burned, and green boughs decked the halls.

And there was the most extraordinary chocolate yule cake, made by my dear friend Nikiah to mark this special occasion.

We even had a yule tree this year, strung with lights and rose-hips and homemade ornaments and old birds nests that I have collected from the land here.

And once the solstice was over, and one lot of dear friends left, another set arrived, and Katie began to prepare for Christmas, the Irish way. And those incredible whiskey soaked fruit cakes that she began making at summers end, well, they were finally ready for eating.

And ohmystars they were good. Perhaps, I don’t need to tell you, that a Christmas dinner prepared by Cohen and Katie, is truly something to behold. If ever you find yourself invited to sit around their table, know that it will be an experience like no other, and that the quality of food and hospitality is unrivalled.

And these dinners, they go on for a long time, course after delicious course. In fact, hours can go by while enjoying the pleasures of eating at a long table in good company; sipping wines, that you feel sure were made just to go with this meal. Oh and the salads, they are simply art.

Yes, needless to say, we have been doing a great deal of eating here at Honey Grove over the holidays. It’s a good thing we have been getting our exercise too, and taking long snowy walks as a part of our daily routine.

And not without our beloved dog friend, who leads us through the fir wood with an extra skip in his step. Gus assures me (and on a regular basis) that there is nothing quite like taking his dear human friends for a walk. It is a pleasure (he says) like no other.

Of course, you also know by now, that it is not all leisure here at Honey Grove, and that as much as we love feasting with friends, we have also been buzzing around like a hive of bees doing the many things that need doing. Before our week off at Christmas, you could find us in the bakery and at the markets.
Mark was baking bread as fast as Katie and I were selling it, and by Christmas Eve there was not a single loaf left to buy in the whole valley.
Luckily we managed to put a few loaves away for our own table.  Yes, the evolution of Mark’s baking career is really quite something ( and, it seems that he is taking it very seriously, eh eh)
And when the markets were over, we were back at Honey Grove scrubing the cottage sinks and airing linens and preparing for the arrival of more guests, who came to retreat in the cottage for the holiday season. We have shovelled pathways and swept floors and made beds, multiple times.
And speaking of beds and guests, did I mention that we also renovated our farmshop? Yes, we have! It is no longer a place to buy jellies and honeys, but rather a little cabin, for farm helpers and family to stay. Cohen did the carpentry and even put in a new window.
And while Cohen did the structural work, Katie did the design and the electrical, and our friend David and I did the painting. Below you can see some of the process and the exciting end result.


And so it seems that December on Honey Grove has been both busy and relaxing, and here, today, at the threshold of another year there is blue sky and a pile of sparkling snow out the door. There are guests cozy in the cottage and there is a brand new seed catalogue sitting on the table, just waiting for me to open it, so that I might begin dreaming of the coming year.

And there is Gus, having just returned from a snowy walk around the perimeter, with an abundance of snowballs attached to his legs. I best go and attend to him.
Wishing you a Happy Healthy New Year.

Nao, Mark, Cohen, Katie, Gus and All at Honey Grove~

September on Honey Grove

And so it is that September is already upon us and the light on the garden is already changing.

As the days shorten and the harvest rolls in there is a deep sense of gratitude for the astonishing abundance of our little Honey Grove. Three hundred pounds of potatoes are now stored away in the cellar.

I dug them up one very hot day while listening to a podcast about loving kindness, and all the while thinking to myself, how easy it is to cultivate an open heart in relationship to a garden.


And when the potatoes were all dug, I harvested over 70 pounds of onions.

And when my back got sore, which it did, I just kept thinking about how nice it would be to make soup this winter from our own blessed harvest, and how good it will taste on a cold winters day, and on I went, looking a wee bit like a bent over old woman, but a happy one at that. Meanwhile, as I was busy storing away the onions and potatoes, Cohen got to processing tomatoes, for we had no shortage of tomatoes this hot dry summer, and oh my stars, they were extra good this year. There is nothing like a hot dry summer to bring tomatoes into sweet ripe perfection.

Of course Cohen was not slaving away over a hot stove all summer, he did mange to go fishing too, and one can hardly say that was terribly taxing for him. I believe he even caught a few fish.

As for Katie, between her steady work at the local winery and her extraordinary hosting of out of town guests (who she seats around long tables of bountiful harvest feasts) she is a very busy woman. And still, despite how much she manages, you can always find her at the local Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, where she is making me laugh hysterically and selling her famous muffins.


And what about Mark you might ask? Well good question, he is currently working 7 days a week in his new bakery as he prepares to take his bread into the local health food stores. Yes, starting the first week of October you will find Mark’s beautiful bread in 3 local health food stores, more details coming soon. He will also continue to bake for the Farmers Market on Saturdays.


I must admit I am incredibly proud of  Mark as he so passionately dedicates himself to his craft. I am also looking ever so forward to a time when he will have days off again and we can go for leisurely walks in the forest with our beloved dog friend.

Something, we still manage to do even despite the busyness of it all. These days we walk in the evenings after supper and before bed.

And when we come home from our evening woodland walks we share a pot of fresh mint tea with cinnamon and honey in the living-room beneath a canopy of drying herbs.

Speaking of honey, the bees, like us, are also getting ready for winter now. They are bringing home the last of the pollen as the nectar flow has virtually stopped everywhere but in our garden. In fact the garden is kind of beehive in itself these days. There are bees on every nasturtium and rose and calendula petal and the garden hums with the sound of their gathering.

For when it comes to flowers, there are many, and I continue to make bouquets for the Saturday Farmers Market.

And some rather special ones for custom order.


And alongside the flowers the bounty continues, we still have beets and kale and carrots and beans and turnips, and splendid cabbages (Peter Rabbit Story book cabbages).

And did I mention kale?

Yes, the garden keeps providing even as summer slips in to autumn and the light changes in the sky. As for Gus, he is fine with the light changing, so long as he can find a patch of it to stretch out in.

And now I must be off, for the days are getting shorter and the list of things to do is not.

Bright Harvest Blessings to All,

Nao, Mark, Cohen, Katie, Gus and All at Honey Grove~













When August Comes

When August comes, gathering inspiration for dinner means a gentle walk down to the garden with a big sturdy basket.

A basket that can withstand the weight of potatoes and carrots and cucumbers, tomatoes and beans and beets. A basket wide enough that it can be gently topped with kale leaves and salad greens and flower petals.

Yes, summer dinners on Honey Grove are not complete without an array of edible flowers, which make it into nearly every course, including desserts. One of which was a raspberry lemon cake topped with lemon curd, nasturtium flowers, dahlia and cornflower petals.

Because, 0h-my-goodness the flowers are blooming, and we gather them daily, for markets and custom orders, for friends and cottage guests, and to adorn the top of every table and sill in our little Honey Grove house.

We even put them in the honeybee drinking water, which I am convinced they appreciate.

But, I am not the only one gathering flowers for bees, our beautiful niece Senay came to spend two weeks with us here on Honey Grove, and together we gathered flowers and went to markets and had more fun than any of us can possibly describe by way of words.

And are we ever grateful for her help.

For August is a busy time here on the farm, and when there are not markets to attend, there are 20 pounds of blueberries to jam and freeze.

And herbs to harvest and dry.

And gardens to water, and a cottage to clean.

And honey to collect from hard working bees.

And still, despite the fullness of this season, it is not only work, for there are also morning yoga classes with Gus to attend, as he reminds us to pause and stretch out on the grass beneath the summer sun.

And there are dinners with dear friends, who have traveled a long way to come and sit round the Honey Grove table.

And wonderful times spent with family, and especially my dear Mom, who came and stayed for a week and cooked beautiful meals for us, while we bustled around in our summer way. Thank you Mom!

Oh, and there is a little tree frog in the Honey Grove garden who spends his time between the soft pink petals of a giant dahlia encouraging us all to take breaks.

And while our little frog friend is resting in the dahlia petals, Katie can occasionally be found in her hammock ( although not nearly often enough!).

As for Mark and Cohen, they both move too quickly for photographs, but they are here among us, working hard and pausing to rest when they can, mostly down by the river or the sea.

And now I must sign off, for another day has begun and there are some things that need doing. Gardens to water, bees to look in on and a river to swim in.

Summery Blessings to All,

Nao, Mark, Gus, Cohen, Katie and All at Honey Grove