You guys. We’re so excited about this.
We’ve decided to launch a new series of posts called “Fellow Foodies.” Every few weeks, we’ll be featuring someone in the “food world!” Because there are SO MANY cool people out there, doing SO MANY cool things, and we want to find them and share their stories. It may be a local farmer, world-famous chef or like today, a regular guy with a really interesting hobby.
So, welcome to post #1: Honey Bees and Tunnel Gardens, featuring Tom Bench. Because growing vegetables in the dead of winter and harvesting fresh, raw honey is def cool.
Tom lives in Sandy, Utah, and has a cute little family of two energetic boys and a beautiful wife. Crossing the threshold into their home, you’d think they were just an ordinary family with ordinary hobbies. However, as you step into their backyard, you’ll realize this is not the case.
In one corner, there’s a chicken coop full of squawking birds. Another corner holds a heaping pile of old bee boxes, with the occasional broken hive hanging here or there. Across from the dilapidated beehives, is what appears to be a plastic tunnel planted into the ground. It’s the middle of winter, and Tom is growing a garden…
An interview with Tom:
Have you always been interested in gardening?
“Some of my favorite memories have been working in my family garden growing up. We always grew the staples like tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini…I used to eat tomatoes like most people eat apples, and they are still my favorite home grown vegetable.”
Tell us about your tunnel garden.
“When I first was introduced to a tunnel garden I was blown away that people could grow such beautiful gardens in the Winter, but I was even more impressed by how much they could extend the grow season by being able to plant early and harvest even later into the grow season. Some tunnel gardeners are really into self-sufficiency and other just want to experience the novelty of growing in the bitter cold of winter.”
Tom said he’s still learning how to manage the garden and grow different vegetables in the harsh winter weather. But he has grown some beautiful leafy greens like kale and butter lettuce this winter.
How does a tunnel garden work?
“This low-tunnel system is kept warm by passive solar energy. It’s air tight allowing it to hold the heat and moisture, which creates a Spring-like climate inside. This allows the plants to not only survive but to THRIVE.”
Where can people learn more about tunnel gardens?
Want your own tunnel garden? Tom is extending an offer to all Kiwi and Carrot readers! The first 10 people to purchase a Tunnel Garden grow kit will receive 12 bonus seed packets. You’ll have everything you need to start growing fresh garden veggies in your backyard (even during the winter)! Enter the coupon code: kiwiandcarrot at checkout. Offer expires February 28th.
So tell us about your Hollow Tree Honey. How did you get started with it?
“I started beekeeping because I was fascinated with bees and I wanted to have that empowering moment of tasting honey from my own hive. It was SO worth it. During one of my first hive inspections I came across this band of honeycomb capped with a fresh coat of white, flakey wax. I dug my hive tool into the comb and some squished out.”
“I remember thinking to myself “is this safe?” All the honey I had ever eaten had come from a plastic bear on a grocery store shelf. That’s where honey comes from right?! Wrong! My first taste of honey was full of light and flavorful sweetness unlike anything I had ever experienced before. It was as good as I had hoped and that experience, and many others that followed, are why I started Hollow Tree Honey. I want everyone to know what genuine raw honey tastes like.”
So where does your honey come from?
“Our honey comes from hives along the Wasatch Mountain range. While most store-bought “raw” honey is heated at least slightly for bottling convenience, ours never is. We let it flow at a glacial pace into our jars. Honey is a living super food and keeping it totally raw retains all the flavor, enzymes, and nutrients. You’ll love your first taste!” (Side note: we sampled his honey and OH MY GOSH. It’s amazing you guys.)
What can people do to support your local honey?
“Help us save the bees! We’ll send out a packet of wildflower seeds with every jar we sell in hopes of creating more flower and food for the bees. We call it our Honey Bee Buffet Mix. It will provide valuable food for honeybees and other native bees too! To order a jar go to www.hollowtreehoney.com. You can also follow us on Instagram @hollowtreehoney.”
(If you’re a local Utahn, Tom’s Hollow Tree Honey can be purchased at Harmon’s [Salt Lake and Davis County locations], Good Earth, The Store, the Utah Coop and Liberty Heights Fresh).
A big thanks to Tom for sharing his unique talents with Kiwi and Carrot!
Do you know any “fellow foodies” who may want to be featured? Contact us to let us know!