Vendor Feature for Week 4 of the Selkirk Port D.O.G Days market:
For Edward Zajac, beekeeping is a passion.
His Ohana Honey Farm is aptly named – Ohana means ‘family’ in Hawaiian – and his son-in-law works with him part-time, and his daughter came up with the name and logo.
“It’s my daughter’s fault,” Zajac laughed when explaining the name.
“The name and the little Hawaiian turtle. We visited Hawaii and picked up a few words and she came up with the whole thing.”
He’s been at it eight years and depending on the year has anywhere from 30 to 50 hives. This year he’s got about 50, but the drought-like conditions have made it challenging.
“I’ve lived in this province for 40 years and never remember drought like this. It has a huge affect on the farmer, and bees are farming. So far I have hives that have produced honey and quite a few hives that haven’t produced anything yet,” Zajac said.
“I’m thinking that at best I will be at 50 per cent of the harvest that I usually get.”
Bees are Zajac’s retirement project and he intentionally kept his farm on the smaller side.
“I keep it the size that’s manageable for me. I never planned to do it commercial size, or large size. I’m finding as I do beekeeping, keeping it relatively small, I can manage it,” he said.
“That way I can produce more interesting honey because I have the time and the flexibility to play with it, as opposed to a large commercial enterprise that basically at the end of the season, they take all of the honey and mix it together.”
At Ohana Honey, Zajac can harvest throughout the season, which results in a variety of honey.
“I have the flexibility of extracting the honey at different times of the year and I can produce different tastes and different colours as the different flowers are blooming throughout the season,” he explained.
“People don’t realize it, they think honey is honey, but if you break it down, every two-and-a-half weeks there’s a different set of flowers blooming and that produces totally different honey.
“This is what I’ve found and it’s very satisfying to do that. You can cater to customers, because everybody likes something different.”
Zajac said there’s a “huge difference,” in colour and taste from spring honey than there is from mid-summer honey when farmers’ crops are blooming. Then the honey changes again when the bees can access pure wildflowers in late August and early September.
“It does vary by taste, colour and texture,” he said.
He took a beekeeping course at the U of M when he started, but says he’s learned tons from other beekeepers and just through trial and error. He farms his bees near Silver, just south of Arborg, and meeting customers at the Selkirk market is enjoyable.
“For me it’s fantastic. Beekeeping is very satisfying work, it’s physically demanding but at the end it’s very satisfying,” he said.
“I like talking to customers, talking to people, providing someone with a product that was actually created at my farm, that’s the whole idea.”
Ohana Honey is available at the Selkirk Port D.O.G Days Market every Wednesday from 10am to 2pm at the Selkirk Waterfront. Several other vendors are there as well featuring hand made soaps, pickles, clothing, perogies, farm-fresh veggies and more!
City of Selkirk clothing and merchandise is also available at the market each week and features the city’s famous Catfish with a cause and other cool Selkirk-inspired designs. All profits from each sale go directly to the Selkirk Parks and Heritage Endowment Funds.
The income generated from the two funds is used to maintain and enhance Selkirk’s heritage and park sites and services, today, tomorrow and forever. Can’t make it out to the market? SHOP HERE
There’s entertainment at the market every week as well. On August 11th, check out 23 year old Joey McNair who’s been making music for the past 15 years after learning from his father and is most recently known as being the frontman for hard rock band Booker Drive.
For market information contact:
CitizenSupport: 204-785-4900 or [email protected]