Spring? We hope!

snowdrops on table snowdrops on table
Well at last, and only three days ago, she came. She arrived one sunny morning, just after the last drop of snow had melted.


She arrived after several days of constant rains, when temperatures finally warmed enough for the snow to stop, for it snowed right through the first week of March. Yes, Spring, she is finally here! (Although I hesitate to shout it too loudly for fear that I might frighten her off. But surely crocus are sign of Spring?)


And yesterday the bees were out collecting hazel and alder pollen.


And crocus too.


Gosh, it’s been so lovely these past few days, I even planted my peas, although I did think to cover them with a bit of fleece, just in case the weather turns cold again, for what a long long winter it has been.


But while the snow fell down and piled up outside our door (for nearly 4 months) we were as busy as bees in our Honey Grove hive. And when we are not shovelling pathways and digging beehives out of snow drifts and pushing snow of barn rooftops (for fear that they might collapse under the weight of it all) we were planning the coming year with endless mugs of tea by the fireside.

And what a year it is going to be! Perhaps I should tell you the most exciting news of all (for this has always been my style, as I can hardly wait to share those things that are bursting forth from my inspired heart). So without further aideu, I must begin by telling you that Mark will be expanding his bakery, and that he is currently setting up a bakery in the nearby town of Courtenay! It seems that Mark has outgrown his humble basement bakery here on the farm, and that his little brick oven simply cannot hold the number of loaves he wishes to bake and sell.



Our dear Mark works over 40 hours a week to make one hundred loaves of bread, all of which promptly sell-out at the Farmers Market in less than an hour.


This being said, the only way for him to meet the demands of the community, and to earn a living-wage, is to move to a bigger space and to invest in some finer equipment. Currently he spends 90 percent of his time getting his oven up to temperature, and although it sounds poetic to bake bread in an outdoor wood-fire oven, it is not so very practical (especially, as we discovered this winter, wading through 3 foot snow drifts, during a power outage, baking bread with a head torch). Mark has come to realize that he would like to spend his time and energy baking bread and creating new inspired loaves as opposed to managing fires in all kinds of wild weather.


And so, very soon, our baker-man Mark will be baking bread in his new space, in his brand new Italian oven, which is traveling to him now, coming on a boat, from far across the sea. If you would like to follow him along on Instagram, you can do so here. But for  now, I will leave you with a little shot of his new space, on it’s way to becoming the Honey Grove Bakery.


Meanwhile back on the farm, plans have been made for a nut orchard to be planted. And our neighbour, has been by with his very large machine to clear a ragged patch of alders, so that we can start planting hazelnuts, which will be underplanted with another acre of nitrogen fixing bee forge.


We are still aiming to be as sustainable as possible here on Honey Grove, and growing nut trees is an essential part of that plan. Nut trees, especially walnut and hazelnut, grow exceptionally well on Vancouver Island, and yield nuts within 5 to 10 years. We will share more about this over the coming months. For now, we have a patch of good earth that is ready for planting.


And while I am clearing land with my trusty hound



and doing the odd little dance here and there….

Cohen is busy building a beautiful new maple-wood bar for the wood-fire brick oven.


And look how beautiful it is already!


Although Mark will no longer be baking his bread in the farm oven, we will continue using the brick oven for our own bread baking, pizza nights, herb drying and family dinners.

Katie is busy too, working on the farm, helping to get the gardens ready for spring planting. She is moving compost and digging steer manure into all the beds. She is repairing chainsaws and bucking up the fallen alders that came down after the heavy winter snow falls. And, she is also, still making her famous muffins and selling them alongside Marks bread every Saturday at the Farmers Market.


As for Gus, he is still offering his secret of the universe and enjoying the warmth of the sun as much as we are.


And now I must be off, for the sun is shining once again and I simply must get out in it!

With Gratitude for your company,

Nao, Mark, Gus, Cohen and Katie~



Poetry and Pizza

Come up the pathway lined with trees, come see the flowers and the bees…

Come, step through the garden gate,
And forgive this blog for being late.
There is you see, much to be done,
for harvests come with summer sun.
And lazy days come in the fall,
when firelight flickers upon the wall.
Until then, we just keep going,
like a river, to the ocean flowing.
Rising with the cockerels crow.
Making lists:
Now, jam the berries and pick the peas,
and dry the herbs for winter teas!
Pull the garlic when the sky is blue,
and don’t forget the firewood too!
Give praise to the greens that keep you going,
give praise to the garden and all things growing.
And so, this blog is “deep-thought-free”
my ponderings have gone to sea.
For now we gather like the bee,
willing slaves of July’s bounty.
(I am afraid the poem ends there, but perhaps this is a good thing, eh eh. The photo’s however continue, as I thought you might like to see the wonderful things happening in and around Mark’s oven…)
This, and I cannot wait to share the exciting news that my brother Cohen has moved to our neck of the woods! Yes, after living in Italy for the past 5 years teaching sustainable food and animal welfare in Sienna, he has come to work together with us here at Honey Grove. Cohen and his fabulous fiancé Katie will be joining forces with Mark and I in the realm of sustainable food and farming. (There will be a good deal more on this topic coming soon.) For now though, I invite you to picture a sweet summer evening by the wood-fire oven. Imagine homemade mozzarella cheese and freshly picked tomatoes and basil. Imagine wood-fire-sourdough- pizza and the taste of Honey Grove.
Oh, and do not forget to add a pint of Mark’s Farmhouse Ale to your imaginings, for there is nothing quite like it!
Now, I must be off, for there is honey to extract and a winter garden to plant.
Sending Summer Blessings to All. Thank You for your company, it means more than we can properly say.
Nao, Mark, Gus and all at Honey Grove.
PS-We do get the occasional rest/daydream in too. Although I must admit that Gus seems to be able to squeeze in more naps than the rest of us. Still though, we do our best;)