Mike & Judy Campbell, Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm and Meadery
As co-owners of Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm and Meadery, we operate a diversified 8 acre farm operation, including an apiary, in south west Abbotsford. We offer off-farm honey bee pollination services to local growers and focus on honey and honey wine producton.
As retired professionals we set out to have an active and healthy lifestyle in retirement. We have certainly achieved this goal…and then some!
Mike, who retired from teaching high school after 35+ years, took up hobby beekeeping about 18 years ago, long before he retired. As retirement approached and in consultation with Judy, the decision was made to combine Mike’s beekeeping and honey wine hobby activities, with Judy’s love of the outdoors, gardening and the arts, to develop what is today a thriving agricultural, agri-tourism business. Mike has been active in both the Surrey and Langley Bee Clubs and served a term as second vice-president of the B.C. Honey Producers Association. Over the last 5 years, Mike has participated in research to enhance honey bee health, and results have been submitted for review and publication.
Judy is a retired federal public service manager. Fear of bees when we first started beekeeping was the biggest obstacle for Judy who reluctantly joined Mike in the beekeeping hobby at the outset. Mike being the persuasive type, encouraged Judy to take the Ministry of Agriculture’s basic beekeeping course with him. Part of that course had a lab component where participants were stung in a controlled environment to determine if they had allergies. Judy realized that her fear of bees was due to the irrational fear of being stung, and once she understood that her fear was unfounded, she slowly overcame her fear of bees, and focused on honey production, product development and sales.
Mike completed the Master Beekeepers Course in 2005 and Judy completed this same course in 2009, as she joined Mike in retirement.
Although Mike is the Apiary Manager and primary apiarist, we work together in our queen rearing and nuc production endeavours. We are still playing, working, and learning together.
Our passion includes bee education and being socially and environmentally responsible. Both of us have graduate degrees in learning, so in retirement we wanted to continue to learn and facilitate the learning of others. We provide educational tours and activities, and participate in off-farm community events. Our bee educational tours have involved all ages from 3 yrs to seniors up to 100 years old. We started a junior beekeeper week-long, summer day camp for ages 10-14, 4 years ago. We feel it is critical to encourage future generations to learn about apiculture, one of the many aspects of agriculture.
The farm is a licensed Meadery (honey winery), producing a variety of honey wines, including ancient mead, melomels (honey/fruit wines), pyment (honey/grape wine) and more. Much of the honey used is produced by our bees. The grapes and most of the fruit and berries, used in the honey wines are produced on the farm. In 2013, we built up enough courage to enter our first wine competition, the Mazer Cup International 2013 Mead Competition. Our 2009 Yellow Egg Plum Melomel won a Silver, while our 2011 Raspberry won a Bronze award. This was exciting for us. Last year, we entered the competition again, and again won two awards; Silver for our 2013 Elderberry Melomel and Gold for our 2012 Sambucus Melomel.
Our on-farm country store opened in 2007 and has provided a location for local consumers from which to buy honeys, honey wines, and other products from the bee hive such as beeswax soaps, candles, and polishes.
We also strategically market our honey products to high end markets and stores in the Fraser Valley, Okanagan and in the Caribou.
We began attending Farmers Markets in the summer of 2014 when the Provincial government changed their laws to permit wine tastings and sales at certain farmers markets. This made it worth our while to offer both honey and honey wines to the public at a few different markets. We provide tastings of many of our honeys and honey wines at all the Farmers Markets that we attend.
The honey farm employs 5 employees throughout the year and we attribute much of our success to the group of committed staff, who offer a warm old fashioned country welcome to all who visit the farm and the country store.
Campbell’s Gold is an active participant in the agro-tourism in the Fraser Valley. Take a look at some of the agro-tourism options in the Fraser Valley in this short video: