Simply Divine: Hyperlocal sweetness at the Farmers’ Market
Hanz Peter Meyer
Special to the Record
Suzi MacLeod and her partner, Jeremy Dick, are the owners of Simply Divine, a “hyperlocal” honey and herbal products producer at the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market.
Their adventures in growing local food started in East Vancouver when the two met while working on a youth project, teaching teens about nutrition and growing food in a community garden.
Hives – and bees – were an important part of the garden.
“That’s where we got excited about honey!” says Suzi. “That project taught us about how important bees are as pollinators. They’re a vital part of every local food system.”
Within six months of moving to Merville in 2000, they had several hives operating.
“We now have our hives on different farms around the Comox Valley.”
Every July they move the hives up the mountain to collect the uniquely flavoured Fireweed nectar.
“Fireweed honey is our best-seller; it’s considered the ‘champagne of honey’ because of its fantastic flavour,” says Suzi.
Why are honey bees important?
Making delicious honey is a by-product of much more important work bees do as pollinators, not just the wild flowers, but also for the food we eat.
“Without our pollinators we wouldn’t be able to grow most of the things we enjoy and need,” Suzi explains.
When we buy local honey, we’re supporting local bees to keep doing their job in our region.
“They make food security possible in our region.”
By placing their hives on various farms throughout the region, Jeremy – master beekeeper at Simply Divine – is collecting local honey as well as helping local growers.
“It’s a partnership. We benefit from what the farmers have planted, and the bees are helping them produce healthy food for all of us,” says Suzi.
Because they only use honey produced locally (some honey producers import product from other parts of Canada to make a cheaper “local” product) Jeremy and Suzi describe their product as “hyperlocal.”
Their commitment to 100 per cent local means that they and their bees have become part of the Comox Valley’s local food infrastructure.
A whole lot more than just honey
Before Suzi became fully involved in honey, she’d trained as a herbal practitioner, and was making herbal body care products sourced from the organic herbs she was growing on their two-acre Merville property.
Products like Happy Baby Bum Balm and Amazing Healing Balm were inspired by wanting healthy products for her young children. Both remain big sellers.
She expanded her organic body care products line to include products like ‘Nipples of Venus Bath Truffles’ – for a truly decadent chocolaty orange moisturizing bath experience – and ‘Ooh La La Body Polish,’ an invigorating body scrub.
Simply Divine and the Market
Both Jeremy and Suzi work full time off the farm, and the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market remains the only outlet for Simply Divine honey, herbal products, and – in season – blueberries.
Suzi says the market serves a dual purpose, as both a sales outlet and a social-educational event.
“People are very interested in the issues around bees and pollination as part of the local food system,” she says.
“I enjoy sharing what I know. And I really like connecting with the people in my community. It’s also fun to see lots of the kids who’ve grown up using Simply Divine body care products!”