All images © Valery Rizzo
This year for the first time I became a member of a CSA, from Brooklyn Honey. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and means you commit to buying a share of a farmer's crops, whether good or bad, from the season’s harvest. Together with the growing number of urban farms in Brooklyn there are many different CSA's to choose from. Because beekeeping is so important I decided on honey this time and I have to say my honey CSA rocks!!
Brooklyn Honey is the pet project of Meg Paska, an urban gardening and livestock enthusiast. She maintains a little under a dozen hives in Brooklyn, New York and runs educational beekeeing programs at BK Farmyards and Eagle Street Rooftop Farm. You should also check out her Brooklyn Homesteader site, where she chronicles her backyard and rooftop adventures and includes topics such as gardening, beekeeping, livestock, recipes, home-ec, mycology and home-brewing all in yes you guessed it, lil-o Brooklyn.
From my membership I receive two very large jars of Honey, one for the early part of the season, which is light in color and a chartreuse color with a minty, herbal taste due to the abundance of Linden trees in the area. The second harvest, which I should receive soon is said to be darker and more amber in color. I also receive pieces of honeycomb and a honeybee specimen.
When the first harvest was ready Megan invited members to either come pick up their honey and be done with it or you could actually come along for the harvesting and watch the entire process. Well I am no fool! I jumped at the chance to witness that. My husband Ivan and I met Meagan at her apartment in Greenpoint and accompanied her to the rooftop where we found three of her hives and amazing views of rooftops, trees and a beautiful Manhattan skyline. After inspecting the hives and finding lots of honey we assembly lined our way back down to her apartment with several frames from the hives and then she actually showed us how she harvests the honey. Megan let us each cut pieces of the most beautiful honeycomb I've ever seen in my life out of the frames. This honeycomb was dripping with honey and was a gorgeous rich deep dark color and simply amazing to handle yourself. We had no choice afterwards but to lick our fingers full of honey as if we were bears, it was so much fun. After receiving a piece as part of my CSA share Megan then put all the other pieces into a bowl and we all took turns mashing all the honey out of the comb and then using a strainer to separate the honey from the beeswax and into jars. She later gives the beeswax to a friend of hers who produces beauty products using the wax. I can't wait to receive my second batch of darker honey.
This honey seems almost too special to put in my tea, but I do, it's also great slathered on some really nice nutty bread, also goes with cheese, you can also bake with it, it's a main ingredient in salad dressings and Megan says it goes great with any kind of ham. They also say that if you eat a spoon or two of local honey each day you will suffer less from allergies because you are consuming the pollen from your area so therefore you are basically immunizing yourself.
1 slice sesame bread or other bread made with unbleached wheat flour (I used a loaf of Pane di Sesamo from the Park Slope Food Coop)
Organic part skim ricotta cheese
2 Large organic arugula leaves
Local Brooklyn honey
My favorite way to enjoy this really nice honey is to slice up some really nice healthy bread. A sesame bread or a rustic Italian loaf would go nice. On one slice of bread lay out two large pieces of Arugula. Using a knife layer on about three dollops of fresh ricotta cheese and spread lightly. Using a honey stick, dip the stick into your jar of local honey and then drizzle honey along the top of your ricotta, arugula and bread. Then enjoy thoroughly!