Monday, 28 February 2011

Our Roots, Part I: Summer Pickle Bees

To help you become better acquainted with the Beehive Craft Collective, over the next few weeks we will be telling you our story - starting with some of the common interests and activities that first drew us together. Many of us Bees share an interest in food - eating, cooking, baking, and waxing poetic over it. This includes finding enjoyment in growing the food ourselves. Some of us, like me, were born in the vegetable patch, and grew up close to our food. For others, local food has become an important part of our lives, and who can imagine a source nearer than the bean you pick with your own hands? For the last couple of years, through the generosity our friend Gary Buttrum and his family, some of us have been lucky enough to have the chance to grown our own. You will no doubt hear more about the farm as you get to know us, but to read more about it, please see Hollie and Jane's reports of farming adventures. This last summer, we found ourselves with an over-abundance of beans, cucumbers and zucchini. There is something quite satisfying in rising from picking row upon row of beans with a full bushel basket of waxy yellow beauties. Yet, after the end of the picking session finds you with more beans than can be eaten fresh and taken to market, what to do?

Why, have a pickling party, of course! Many hands make light work. Many of us pickle and preserve on our own, but we had so many vegetables, and also wanted to share the pickling bounty with our non-pickling farm friends. So Hollie and I gathered together a group of like-minded ladies, and last year we had two pickling parties, which we have come to call Pickle Bees. A working 'Bee' is a gathering of peers to accomplish a task, making social and enjoyable what otherwise might be a tedious chore. I think this is the perfect description of our bees.

The Pickle Bees were also an easy way to try an untested recipe. We'd never tried making dilled beans or relish, and ending up with one or two jars of a new pickle is much better than been stuck with six jars of an unloved preserve. In the end, all the recipes turned out great, and were delicious. Together we ended up with dozens of jars of dill pickles, dill beans and zucchini relish. We shared the jars amongst the the Pickle Bee attendees, and gave the remaining jars to our farming friends.

This year I look forward to a spring and summer of planting, weeding (that's a lie, as I detest weeding), harvesting, and marketing, but what I most relish is the cooking, pickling, preserving, jamming and baking, and the eating, of course. It will be an even more delicious season in the company of wonderful friends.  

Photos courtesy of Jesse Senko, Hollie and Kate

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Ta Da!

Why, hello there! We are finally here! "We" are the Beehive Craft Collective, and boy, are we ever glad to be able to share our endeavour with everyone. We've been bursting at the seams trying to keep somewhat quiet about this for the past couple of weeks. Get it? Seams? Textile joke...

We formed at the beginning of 2011, and hit the ground running immediately. An exciting and fulfilling and fresh project for a new year. Not just one of us, but multiple ladies have expressed their desire to be a part of something like this for their entire lives. And now we are. So we wasted no time and began to hold meetings and start organizing and planning all the logistics of our very first summer craft fair, to be held in conjuncture with the James Street North Art Crawl this coming August. Lots to do, lots to do.

Note-taking and books on needlepoint and coffee filter poufs and floorplans, oh my!

The process for holding a craft fair at times holds tedious tasks like finding a location, and figuring out how many vendors will fit, and inquiring about insurance and accessibility and determining costs. But we're an enthusiastic and capable bunch of ladies pursuing our combined dream, so it's not really work. It's like we're all floating along on cloud 9 the entire time.

We're totally more excited for creating the decor, and coming up with ideas for gift bags and planning the party that will coincide with the Friday night portion of the show though, to be perfectly honest.

We also get pretty excited about delicious treats and beautiful backdrops. Our next order of business was to move our weekly meetings from an ordinary boardroom to the stunning Mulberry Street Coffeehouse, now a fixture in beautiful Hamilton, Ontario, where we are all currently based out of. An inspiring location for an inspiring project. And we hope to somehow work with Mulberry Street for the fair.

We've still got months of planning ahead of us, to take us from winter to spring to wonderful summer, and we could not be more excited. We'd be so thrilled if you joined us for the ride. We're just so very pleased to make your acquaintance.