Jennie Pearce is a scientist turned farmer turned apiarist (a person who keeps bees to produce honey). Settling in Sault Ste. Marie after immigrating from Australia in 1999, she worked for six years as a research scientist for the Great Lakes Forestry Research Centre, known by locals as the “Bug Lab.” Today, Jennie does consulting work for the scientific community in the winter and cultivates her beekeeping and honey business the rest of the year.
I visited Pearce Farm on a sunny spring day and was immediately greeted by her friendly dog Hemi. I asked Jennie why she decided to stay after her time working at the Bug Lab. She told me that she really loves the Sault. It’s a friendly place to live and do business and she couldn’t see herself living anywhere else. She bought her property (25 acres) in the city in 2005 and hasn’t looked back since.
Jennie’s interest in farming started as a child in Australia, where she spent a lot of time on farms. The land she purchased in Sault Ste. Marie was originally farm property, but hadn’t been worked since the 1950s, so it was badly overgrown. Jennie has spent the last thirteen years restoring the land, the out buildings and her home, as well as working on and off the farm. There is now a new honey house on the property too!
At Pearce Farm, you’d never know you were in the city. It’s in a quiet, peaceful area near the very end of Third Line East. Jennie told me she really likes the rural setting, but the city amenities are close and convenient. There’s a solar farm directly behind her to whom she sold some of her property. She’s now down to 6 acres, which is just right for a market garden and some of her bee hives. She currently maintains 50 hives spread out at partner properties in and around the city and is looking to doubling the number of hives in the coming years.
One hive produces 40-100 lbs of honey, depending on the season and genetics of the bees. That’s a lot of honey! Jennie was clear to point out that she manages her hives naturally; which means no chemicals or antibiotics are used. This makes managing her hives more labour-intensive, because there’s constant monitoring that needs to happen so that disease can not take hold. She believes this method is very much worth it, because she’s able to offer a superior product, as close to mother nature as possible. Her honey is raw and unpasteurized. While she does filter the honey, it’s not over-filtered. Jennie’s customers have come to appreciate her efforts because demand for Pearce Farm Honey is high and Jennie is working hard to keep up with the demand.
For those wondering about the health, environmental and agricultural benefits of bees and honey, here is a summary:
Local honey is a natural, unrefined sweet fluid produced by honey bees from the nectar of flowers. It contains important vitamins and nutrients as well as flavonoids and phenolic acids which act as antioxidants, which keep bad bacteria away. The honey bee, although small, plays a very significant role in food, farming and the environment. Bees and the beekeeping industry is extremely important to the health and vitality of Canada’s agricultural industry and the country’s economy. Bees play an in dispensable role in the pollination of our essential crops, in fact, honey bees are responsible for the health of over $170 Million worth of crops in Ontario annually. We need to work very diligently to protect our bees’ existence, crops and environment. We have the healthiest bees in the cleanest environment and Canadian honey is the most delicious in the world. Enjoy all the benefits local honey can do for you! – source: Dickey Bee Honey Inc. with permission.
Pearce Farm offers liquid honey, beeswax, preserves and vegetables in season. Jennie Pearce is one hard-working woman dedicated to creating a healthy product beneficial for everyone. On a personal note, our household loves the delicate taste of her honey.
All visitors passing through the Sault need to stop at one of the following locations to sample some true northern honey. And check out Jenny's recipe for fresh mint lemonade—with honey of course!
Honey and beeswax can also be purchased at the farm-gate by appointment only.
1405 Third Line East
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
(705) 253-1745 (please call ahead)
RECIPE: Honey Lemonade with Fresh Mint
1 cup honey
1.5 cups lemon juice
8 cups water
half cup fresh mint leaves
2 lemons, thinly sliced
Heat 1 cup water over high heat until steaming. Remove from heat and add honey, stir until dissolved. Refrigerate until chilled.
Combine honey mixture, remaining water, and lemon juice. Serve chilled with fresh mint leaves and slices of lemon. Enjoy!