East Hill Honey Co. Highlight

Here at Ever’man, we are proud to carry and promote local brands. With our vendor highlight series, we hope to share local and regional stories of leadership through the business of producing healthy, natural foods. East Hill Honey began in the backyard of the Van Horn family, not far from our Garden Street location. After beekeeper Thomas Van Horn saw a desire in the community for a hyperlocal honey option, he and his family set out to grow what would become East Hill Honey. From 20 hives in East Hill, to a network of community beekeepers across the area, to a new honey house just outside of Pensacola, this local family business has evolved and grown over time in response to the demand for their high quality product.

What are some of the health benefits of consuming locally produced and sourced honey?

Honey has been a well-known remedy for over a millennium in regards to its antibacterial and medicinal properties. Its uses range from a topical antibacterial ointment for cuts and burns to soothing a sore, dry throat. One of the primary reasons most consume local honey today (sourced within approximately 50-100mi) is to mitigate seasonal allergies. The idea that honey can prevent allergies is based on a concept called immunotherapy. This theory is based on the idea of ingesting a small amount of an allergen (i.e. local pollen from trees found in our honey) and over time, with larger doses, the body builds up immunity to the particular allergen. While there is some conflicting information from the medical world regarding how effective this practice is, it seems to be a helpful, natural remedy for many of our local customers. Lastly, purchasing honey from a local beekeeper opens up the door to transparency about their practices and ethics which can help eliminate the risk of purchasing adulterated, foreign honey.

Part of the Ever’man mission is providing our co-op members and customers with opportunities so that their purchases not only support our local economy but can benefit our local environment as well. What are some of the advantages of having a healthy local bee population?

While the honey bee is not native to North America, its presence has been extremely beneficial particularly in the agricultural community. Unlike the native bees that are primarily monofloral pollinators, the honey bee is a polyfloral pollinator and will literally pollinate nearly all the blooming flowers in our community. This is especially important to our local & regional fruit and vegetable producers who cannot rely on wind-driven pollination alone for their cucumbers, watermelon or apples crops. Each flower must be visited dozens of times by a pollinator to set fruit properly. Even our local cotton farmers can see a 10-20% increase in their yield with the presence of the honey bee while the cotton is in its floral stage prior to setting its “fruit”.

With Earth Day coming up, what additional suggestions do you have for the Pensacola community to ensure that their food choices and purchases do the most good?

Morally and economically, I would suggest that when a product or service can be purchased locally (assuming quality is not grossly lacking) it ought to be. This practice builds strong communities, boosts the local economy and subsequently reduces unnecessary fuel inputs. In addition to shopping local, shopping ‘seasonal’ encourages a certain type of celebration in our local environment. Seasons are as necessary for the land as there are for one’s soul. I love watching the Palafox Market customers flock to tables with seasonal, vineripened heirloom tomatoes or mouth-watering blueberries. The joy found in finally savoring the fruit of the land is something worth celebrating!

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