Urban farming has been on my radar since I first visited Brooklyn Grange in Long Island City nearly four years ago for an Outstanding in the Field dinner. It sits atop a nondescript office building on a busy, corporate street, and one would never be able to glean from walking by what an incredibly vibrant ecosystem is housed there.
I’ve trolled their website from time to time for different dinners and educational opportunities, but it wasn’t until I started doing some outside research on beekeeping (once I get into something, I get INTO it) that I began checking back regularly to see if they would have any related opportunities. And lo and behold, I saw a beginner’s beekeeping course up on the site one week and snapped it right up.
The crazy thing about bees is how vital a piece of a local ecosystem these little critters are, and how important you soon realize the role of the beekeeper to be. Each bee performs an incredibly singular and specific role within the hive, which functions at such a high level because of the precision of its little bees. The beekeeper facilitates and protects the work of the hive, while at the same time harvesting from it what can be spared in terms of byproducts like honey, the comb, and royal jelly. Because the bees are drawing pollen and nectar from their local ecosystem, consuming local honey products is wildly beneficial to one’s health, even counteracting issues such as seasonal allergies.
All in all, the whole experience really got me dwelling on the idea of thinking small – small production, small distribution, thinking local, thinking seasonal. It goes hand in hand with the local farm share CSA that I participate in, and trying to move towards buying only what is in season from local growers who try to work as responsibly as possible. So whether I end up bee-ing (terrible pun, I know) able to raise my own bees one day, or just try to be more mindful in the interim about championing my local ecosystem, I think that there is a lot to be learned from our furry little flying friends that we swat away so easily, but who give back to us in so many generous ways.