Sweet Treats: Spotlight on our Honey Suppliers

By Jennifer Wholey

ricks bees smIf you ask a beekeeper what comprises an average day on the job, they will all say something similar: when your livelihood is so tied to the seasons and other living creatures, there is no daily routine.

"The work is very seasonal, and there is no typical day," said Gil Menda, of Gil's Honeybees.

What is typical among GreenStar's three main honey suppliers — Ithaca Honey Bee Company, Gil's Honeybees, and Beeman Apiaries — is a deep love of nourishing small-scale local business. At every opportunity, GreenStar strives to support local vendors, and few products boast more health benefits tied to locality than honey, according to Grocery Buyer Morgan Greer. "We pride ourselves on sourcing our honey exclusively from local vendors," she said. "Luckily, there are several producers of delicious honey just down the road from us."

Of the three main vendors, Beeman Apiaries is the largest, and known to many by the moniker of its former owner, Rowland's. Current owner Joel Babcock purchased the business from Joe Rowland in March 2014, and he strived to make the shift as seamless as possible. "The bees are all taken care of organically, just like they were with Joe. Things are basically run the same — run the same way he did for years," Babcock said. "It was easy to transition. I just make more honey now."

Babcock started keeping bees with his father when he was 10 years old. He continued to keep a small number of hives for himself for the next four decades, and began working part time with Rowland in recent years. When Rowland decided to retire in 2014 (he still has at least a dozen hives in his backyard), Babcock purchased almost 400 hives and took over the business, with beehives stationed all the way from Pennsylvania to Ithaca, and Babcock the sole man at the helm.

Read more: Sweet Treats: Spotlight on our Honey Suppliers


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New in Bulk

Wild Wild Life

minnesota grown wild riceJoe Damiano,
Bulk Department Manager

Wild rice is an essential for your Thanksgiving table. Try ours, from Spirit Lake Native wild rice — it's the best there is.

When planning my personal menu for Thanksgiving, there are some items that, I feel, are absolutely essential. Wild Rice is one of them. I've always thought that the Organic Canadian Wild Rice that we sell in Bulk was the best available — it really is excellent. However, I then met Bruce Savage of Spirit Lake Native Products. Bruce walked into GreenStar one early-autumn day and handed me a bag of wild rice that has proven to be, by far, the best I have ever tasted. Spirit Lake is owned and operated by Bruce and his family and relies on a number of extended family members who live in and around the southwestern border of Lake Superior Chippewa Fond du Lac Reservation in Carlton county in northern Minnesota. I love to support small family farms that are doing great things and making great products. Try some of this wild rice and you'll see why!

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