Weekends can be a great opportunity to explore one of the region’s many small, local marketplaces that often offer products fresh from a dedicated Finger Lakes food producer. Bright Raven Farm and Apiary’s The Honeybee Embassy is one of these remarkable places.
This market located on a farm in Jacksonville started as a vegetable farm in 2000 called Red Tail Farm. Teresa Vanek, a native Ithacan who has written a Notes from the Farm column for Edible Finger Lakes, and her husband spent more than two decades using more sustainable farming practices such as crop rotations, composting, and cover cropping to revive the soils at this farm that had been worn out from intensive corn and soybean agriculture, according to Bright Raven Farm’s website.
Around 15 years ago, Vanek and her husband delved into beekeeping. Today, their farm has more than 80 hives that produce local, raw, varietal honey which you can find at this specialty market. The cold-pressed, unheated, and unprocessed method of making this honey adds intricacy to its flavors.
Vanek describes this honey as having an almost cream-like consistency and there are infusions such as ginger cinnamon.
Along with this honey made right in The Honeybee Embassy building, visitors can find a selection of other products including beeswax-based soaps and lip balms.
The Honeybee Embassy had a soft opening in October 2020. This eclectic building designed by a local architect has a hexagonal shape that nearly resembles a honeycomb—something that Vanek says wasn’t exactly intentional, but she’s glad when people make the connection.
While COVID has caused some concerns for the retail area, Vanek said luckily it’s a space that breaths well and they haven’t had issues with staying under their capacity limits.
“The building is very open-air—when you are in the retail space, it’s almost like a pavilion,” she said. She added there’s a deck off the back where visitors can, “relax and enjoy the location because it’s quite scenic.”
The building also offers ample natural night.
“When you go inside, there’s a really beautiful light effect,” Vanek said.
When the weather warms, Vanek also said there are plans to have meadows around the facility so visitors can learn about the types of plants that benefit pollinators including bees and monarch butterflies.