Wednesday, April 25, 2012

4 Bees Herb Farm - A Fabulous Place!

Your attitude completely changes the minute you drive down the lane to 4 Bees Herb Farm.  And believe me, it really is a lane.  It is a charming and relaxing experience.  Take Fruitville Rd. all the way east until it dead ends on Verna Rd./Myakka Rd. and turn right.  Continue for about one mile and as you go around the bend, you will see a tiny dirt lane called Jomar Rd. on the left side.  There is a sign mentioning 4 Bees and also Crowley Nursery.  You go down Jomar a little bit and you will see another sign pointing you to 4 Bees and Crowley Nursery, turn right.  4 Bees is the first place on the left. As you can see below, there is a sign and flags welcoming you.  Just a note...If you continue a little farther on Myakka Rd., you will come to Crowley Museum and Nature Center - another place you might want to visit.

I first discovered 4 Bees Herb Farm and its owner, Deb Blount, last year when I was chairing the Junior League Kitchen Festival.  I asked Deb to teach a couple of herb classes and to be the "expert" at the Larkin home, talking about her herbs and honey.  A week or so after the festival, I made the trek out to the herb farm and it was love at first sight.  I have so little opportunity to go east of 75 in my daily travels that I barely know what going to the country means in Sarasota County.

Herbs speak to my soul and they always have.  I have been growing and studying herbs for most of my adult life.  I love everything about them - their smell, their taste in my cooking, herbal lore, the easy way they grow, just everything.  As I recently wrote about in another blog posting, I was at Home Depot once and literally broke into tears at the beauty of a large hanging basket of pineapple mint.  I know it's a bit crazy, but that is how much herbs touch me.

Usually my herb garden, which is all container grown, mostly dies out during the summer except for my rosemary which soldiers on all through the year.  To my surprise ALL of the herbs I bought from 4 Bees lasted throughout the summer, even my lavender!  I bought both French and English lavender and they both survived.  I did change the location of some of my herbs from previous years to a partially shaded area and that I think also led to my success.

Deb is a font of knowledge about growing herbs and her local honey.  Last weekend she was selling blueberry, orange blossom, and saw palmetto.  She has various other honey related products she also sells.  She just started with some new chickens and is selling eggs.  How terrific to have farm-fresh eggs!  When we were there, our dog was going crazy hearing the chickens and peacocks.  He didn't know what the heck those sounds were!

Deb and her husband, Sam, are so knowledgeable about the Myakka area.  While my husband and I were there, they were telling us that the little lane that runs in front of their house used to be called the Pine Level Trail, a road which ran from Arcadia to Port Manatee.  Ranchers drove their cattle to Port Manatee to board ships to Cuba.  That lane is the last vestige of that road.  Isn't that interesting?  Of course, I am a huge history lover and that area of the county I know so little about. 

Other interesting and exciting news that Sam and Deb told us about has to do with Crowley Museum and Nature Center.  What a treasure that place is.  Have you ever visited there?  If not, you should.  On Saturdays, they have a farmer's market, which I blogged about in October.  It is a marvelous place to take your family to learn about country ways and a little history of the area.

Speaking of country ways, Deb shared with me a bit of news that I was ecstatic about!  She told me that Crowley Museum was going to start a folk school of sorts, based kind of on the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina.  I think that is absolutely perfect!  They are in the middle of getting everything arranged and hope to be up and running before fall.  I cannot wait!  I know I will sign up for some classes.  Stay turned for more information. 

I encourage you to make the trip out to 4 Bees Herb Farm - you will love it!!

 Deb Blount welcoming us at the entrance for her shade house

 The entrance sign to the farm.  You can see it really is a little dirt lane!

The drive to the farm.  Last Saturday when we were there, there was a steady stream of customers.

 Don't you just love bird houses.  I am gaga for them and I don't mean Lady Gaga.  She'd probably wear one on her head!

 Isn't the little clay bee skep adorable?

 A garden vignette

 A wild rose

 Eggs for sale!  What a delightful sign!

 Doesn't a cast iron dinner bell just scream country to you?

The cozy shade house

Deb's array of honey, combs, and salve

 One of my favorite smelling herbs - orange mint

The kitty stretching out

 Spearmint is one of several mints Deb is growing

 Chocolate mint.  Looking at all these mint photos, I realize they really captured my fancy and I barely took any other photos of the many, many other herbs Deb has in stock.  If you go to her website, you will see the list of what she carries.

 Chives growing strong

 Great smelling thyme

 The hardiest of herbs for Florida - rosemary

Another kitty hiding among the herbs.  What a peaceful feeling!

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