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Vendor of the Week: Jorgensen’s Apiary

It Just Had to Bee!

By Linda Jorgensen

Please tell us about yourself

Some might call it love at first sight. Others would say for Walter and Linda Jorgensen, it just had to bee. For Walter and Linda, it was a trip to the Lorain County Fair and the Lorain County Bee Barn, which touched off a romance with the little flying honey producers that eventually blossomed into the Jorgensen’s Apiary. Both remember an interest in bees when they were children, but that trip to the Fair put them on the path to developing one of the most novel businesses in Northeast Ohio. It started as a hobby--Linda was working at a bank, Walter at a foundry. They began with two hives of bees…it grew to four hives…then to 16 hives…to 30 hives…40 hives…and to full-time jobs for both Linda and Walter.

What do you sell at the market? What are you main crops/products?

Our crop is our honey.  From the raw, natural honey we make flavored and infused honey, and creamed honey.  We also use beeswax to make candles, hand creams, lip balms, and other beeswax products. Our jams and jellies are also very good sellers!

How long have you been participating in the Oberlin Farmers Market?

We have been at the Oberlin Farmers Market for at least ten years. I’ve lost track of time! The Oberlin Farmers Market was our first market back when it was originally in the same location.  Walter has been in Oberlin since grade school and I came to Oberlin when I was in second grade.

What is your favorite part about the Oberlin/larger Lorain County region?

All of our roots are in Oberlin. It’s a friendly community and provides almost everything we need.  My children graduated from the same school I did, and family is still local or close by.

What got you interested in bees?

It started as a hobby.  When Walter lost his job of 31 years he decided to make his living from the bees.  I later retired early to join the fun!

How do you see your farm/business developing in the future?

Our dream is to open a shop in Oberlin one day!

What’s the most interesting or entertaining thing that has happened to you while keeping bees?

Walter’s bee beards are definitely the most entertaining.  Learning to work with bees and making products has been extremely entreating for us!  If you do learn from your mistakes, we should be the two smartest people around! (Oberlin Farmers Market note: Walter will be creating a live honeybee beard at the market on Saturday June 9th at noon! An event surely not to miss.)

Besides farming/product making, what other things do you do in your spare time?

Spend time with family and friends.  It's extremely difficult to fit everyone's busy schedules together. This year we have a new blessing coming in October, we are going to be great grandparents! In addition to our farmers markets, our shop in Olmsted Falls is open year round, 7 days a week.  We are also at the West Side Market in Cleveland 3 days a week and do craft shows. Winter is our "down time."  Once strawberries come in and all the markets start, it's non-stop until after the Christmas holiday! Reading, sleeping, relaxing, and cooking are our "vacations" now.

What contributions (besides farming) have you made towards sustainability and local consumption of goods?

We try to know where all of our fruits and vegetables come from to make our jams and jellies.  My mom and I pick many wild berries, and a local Amish couple grows and picks for us on the day we buy from them.  We also purchase supplies locally if items are available. Our products are for sale in several Oberlin shops and OSCA at Oberlin College buys our honey for the coops.

Do you use sustainable and/or natural methods of producing your crops/product?

YES! The one exception is the treating of the varola mites in the fall. We only treat if necessary and never when the honey supers are on.  

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