By Nikki Lyn Pugh, MFA, HoneyColony Original
Necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes. No one knows the truth of this statement better than David Jefferson, owner of Bloom Honey, located in Somis, California. For generations, David’s family has grown award-winning avocados under the Jefferson Farms/Doctor Avocado brand in fertile Ventura County, California. For years they relied on a local beekeeper to bring bees to their land to pollinate their crops. One season, however, their beekeeper didn’t check on his bees and many of them perished. That’s when David decided to take matters into his own hands.
“Bees are responsible for pollinating something like 30 to 40 percent of the fruits and vegetables we eat, and as an avocado grower, we find bees are very important,” David explains. “Whether it was a wise decision or not, we started keeping bees.”
For the first few years, the hives were used exclusively to pollinate avocados. As time went on, however, they began using the bees for their almond crops as well. Eventually, they expanded the beekeeping into a full-fledged commercial operation with about 1,000 beehives, producing high-quality, 100 percent raw honey for health-conscious consumers. Today, you will find David, his wife Kelly, and their young son Levi involved in both pollination and honey production activities. Their initial risk a decade earlier has turned into a profitable business. Bloom Honey currently carries refreshing white clover, tangy orange blossom, succulent buckwheat, and robust Chamisa “Golden Rabbitbush” honeys as well as a variety pack that contains all four, with many more varieties on the horizon.
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In college, David studied ecological economics (a discipline that views the economy as a subsystem within the larger natural ecosystem) at Brown University. His studies at Brown, in addition to a college summer as a crew member of an organic blueberry farm in Maine, along with years of hiking the western mountain ranges with his parents as a child, solidified his commitment to sustainable practices in both farming and business. (He also holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management). As David explains, Bloom Honey is committed to maintaining all the nutrients in honey that make it a true superfood.
“I believe strongly in eating raw honey for your health,” says David. “All the varietals we offer have general and unique health benefits.”
And health professionals agree. Liquid honey loses many of its nutrients and enzymes when it is pasteurized because processing subjects it to high temperatures. Raw honey, on the other hand, maintains its crystalline appearance as well as its nutrients, including Vitamins B and C, and antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. According to a study released by Food Safety News in 2011, more than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores is processed and stripped of its nutrients. David Jefferson produces most of his Bloom Honey on site and always keeps it raw. For varietals containing honey from out of the area, he maintains the same rigorous standards. David explains:
“Honey sourced from another beekeeper—for example, our Blackberry honey coming soon from Washington, and our Saw Palmetto honey coming soon from Florida—is still 100 percent raw. I get the honey right after it has been extracted and put in the barrel. We heat it gently, just enough to liquefy it and get it from the drum to the jar, staying well within the temperatures that are considered raw, which is typically 120 degrees or less. We never filter our honey. Instead, we gently strain it using a 400-micron filter. This allows all the pollen to get through as well as propolis, but it filters out large particles of wax.”
Good farming and business practices and an eye towards nutrition seem to be a winning formula for David. In 2012, the company took home the First Place Blue Ribbon at the Ventura County Fair for Bloom’s raw honey. And in 2013 alone, Bloom Honey’s Chamisa, Malibu Wildflower, and Orange honeys all won high-ranking ribbons.
Bloom will soon expand its stock to include many new varietals, including Mesquite from Arizona and Avocado from Ventura County, and will introduce a wider selection of sizes. The company will also expand their retail and wholesale options in the near future.
Nikki Lyn Pugh, MFA is a writer, teacher and life coach who lives in Taos, NM. When she isn’t writing articles, coaching or working on her novel, she is teaching the next generation of honey lovers at the local elementary school in Taos, NM. She can be reached at AsYourWord, her website.