Like other elements of the farm, the beekeeper plays an integral role and provides a tremendous product that is savored by guests. The beehives occupy a few places on property that afford the bees with ample sources of pollen to produce their sweet nectar for the beekeeper to extract during the year. The source of nectar for harvest comes from a combination of tulip popular, wild flowers and sourwood. These varieties give our honey delicate flavors with light amber hues. Sourwood trees are mostly found in wooded areas and bloom from the end of June through August.
Sourwood honey is considered to be the best tasting honey and is known for its sweet, spicy, anise aroma and pleasant aftertaste. With hives located near the garden, the bees will be busily working in the spring to produce honey that is a mix of wild flower and tulip poplar, all the while helping to propagate the plants growing in the garden.
Preservationist and Beekeeper
Shannon Walker grew up eating and preserving from the land. With the guiding hand of his grandparents he saw living out of the garden a way of life. His grandmother showed him how to cook and preserve while his grandfather influenced his love of gardening and foraging. After a successful career as a photographer, Shannon decided to change his path and took up work in the kitchen and spent the next 7 years in the kitchens of Blackberry Farm, a local restaurant or two and even had his own catering business. He returned to Blackberry Farm in the Main House kitchen in early 2009, and then stepped into the role of Preservationist in 2011.
The Larder is a natural place for Shannon as he gets to express creativity, love of the food culture and products from East Tennessee, and use his skills as a chef and those that his grandmother passed down. Shannon’s high regard for the land, passion for farming, foraging, bee keeping and the history of the area is apparent in each jar he creates. Shannon sees his role as the Preservationist at Blackberry Farm more than preserving the season’s bounty, but to also protect and share the southern Appalachian culture and food history.