Many Canberrans will recognise Carmen from her family’s “Honey Delight” stall at our local Farmers Markets and shows. I first met Carmen a few years ago online as she is a prolific social media user who spreads the good news about bees in and around Canberra with passion! I recently met her in real life when I ambitiously volunteered to host an urban hive in our family backyard. Sadly for various reasons, including dogs, cats, too many small children and my desire to re-arrange and re-design our whole backyard and gardens meant I went back to the bottom of the waiting list for new hives. Bees need a little bit of private space and some relative peace, both of which are in short supply in our household!
Carmen recently agreed to be the subject of another regular Canberra Foodie interview and I hope to join her soon for a breakfast during her never-ending quest to find Canberra’s best Eggs Benedict, and she has found some very impressive samples already!
A photo of Carmen standing proudly in front of her award-winning honey at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
So Carmen, who are you? I am a third generation beekeeper. I grew up in a large commercial beekeeping family in northern NSW – the Walker Family. At times we were the largest beekeeping family in Australia and during our most productive years we employed up to 10 men.
My family has exported bees and honey to a number of countries including, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and the middle east. We practice a natural beekeeping method and while we have met the criteria for organic produce for over a decade it is only recently that the family as a whole has agreed to commence the organic certification process.
We sell our family produce under the label of Honey Delight at Capital Region Farmers Market. It is an excellent, raw, untreated honey and recently won 3 gold medals and champion commercial exhibitor in the National Honey Show at The Royal Easter Show, Sydney.
I moved to Canberra 20 years ago (mainly due to lack of opportunity in the small country town where I grew up). I’ve continued to spend large periods of time in the country and now consider myself a rural-urban hybrid. I keep my own bees and the majority of my equipment belonged to my grandfather.
My family and I started Canberra Urban Honey in 2012 as a response to the many requests we were getting to help people pollinate their backyard fruit and vegetables. The project began as a community project that my family and I managed on a volunteer basis. We financed the project using donations from our extended family and also raised a small amount of money using crowd funding. Our project used Pozible to raise $2,000 and was the first Australian agricultural project to use crowd funding.
The immense community support for our project and the demand for bees as pollinators in the city meant the project had to evolve in order to remain viable into the future. In 2014 we changed Canberra Urban Honey to a not-for-profit venture and it now employs my son Mitchell as a trainee beekeeper. Our Canberra bees struggled in the drought but our tender loving care meant our bees produced excess honey during the 2013 spring and summer. We finally had our first significant honey harvest at the end the summer of 2014.
Canberra Urban Honey has subsequently been recognised for significant urban agricultural excellence and won Champion at Canberra Show. Canberra Urban Honey is the first urban honey to be awarded a medal at the National Honey Show at the Royal Easter Show. We are incredibly proud of the Canberra community for making this all possible and we hope they feel part of the significant recognition Canberra Urban Honey has achieved over the past two years.
Age? Ha ! – not disclosed!
Where do you live? Gungahlin
How long have you been blogging? 3 years
Other hobbies? Gardening
Apple or Android? Apple
Favourite TV show? I have three – Walking Dead, Vikings and Downton Abbey
(I have been heavily influenced by my teenage children)
Favourite devices? My phone camera and Gopro
Can we take a peek at your home screen?
Most-used app? Twitter
Favourite social media? Twitter
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? Twitter
What do you worry about at night? Mostly nothing but otherwise – bees and the weather
Most exciting recent news? Medals at The National Honey Show for Honey Delight and Canberra Urban Honey
<And here is the photo to prove it!>
Ideal career? Beekeeper
Recent book you recommend? MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood – look for me in the acknowledgements.
Recent online video you laughed at? didn’t get one so I’ve taken a bit of licence here and added an interesting bee clip… is that ok Carmen? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTLgSqu4r3E
Favourite food? Honeycomb with brie and crackers – I have it every day !
To learn more about Carmen’s amazing award-winning work with bees go to her website: Honey Delight
Carmen and Mitch have also done plenty of interesting media about their adventures with bees, like this recent story on ABC Rural: Australia’s youngest urban commercial beekeeper