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A Smell of Honey….

One glorious summer Sunday afternoon, a gathering of Smallholders made its way north to Chain Bridge Honey Farm, Berwick, where we were warmly greeted by our hosts, the Robson family.  When we were all comfortably seated around the bus café patio, Mr. Robson told us how the honey farm had been developed by his father after the war, when as a teacher of bee keeping he learnt many a wrinkle from his often more experienced students.  Today the farm remains very much a communal family/worker enterprise where each member is highly valued.

Mr. Robson then introduced us to his philosophy of bee keeping, the dubiousness of grants, the usefulness of overdrafts, and the dangers of agricultural chemicals.  In his view the politics of cheap food had led to an increase in quantity at the expense of quality. However as people became more aware of the dangers of that policy, there was a growing interest in organic or semi-organic food.  This was helpful for smaller producers like themselves committed to living as Mr. Robson put it “In tune with nature – in tune with the community”.

After a discussion about the life and requirements of bees, we were taken on a fascinating tour around the premises – all of which appeared to have been built by family, friends and angle iron.  The processing rooms smelt deliciously of honey in its various stages of development for a variety of ingenious uses.  The museum was an evolving museum piece in itself, with wonderful murals of local scenes and information panels most beautifully handwritten in script.  It was truly a testament to the devoted friendship inspired by the Robsons, that so many people contributed their talents to developing such an impressive resource.

From there we moved into the shop where all of us were tempted – and all succumbed. With cheerful hospitality we were then treated to an array of cakes and tea in the bus café before being led with undiminished enthusiasm around the barns (more metal beams hoisted into position by hand and fork lift truck!) where hives were manufactured, and on to admire the many farm implements and historic vehicles, some completed, some in process of restoration.

George was suitably impressed by the drag lines similar to the ones he had worked on, and many Smallholders were knowledgeable on the different types of engine, including the red London bus.

It was by now five o’clock, the last pictures were taken, our farewells made, and we set off for home, thoroughly delighted with our afternoon and deciding to follow individual topics of interest on another visit.

Bob Morgan