How sweet it is!

FOR anyone yet to experience Honeycomb Valley Farm at Nabiac, you're missing out on a local treasure.

Run by Anna Campbell and her family, Honeycomb Valley is a picturesque property that's all about making the most of nature, nurturing its animals, insects, plants and vegetables to create a place where everything lives in unison and each section complements the last.

From the gorgeous lambs, alpacas, goats and chooks, to the sweet aroma of fresh herbs and a bee hotel that rivals the Hilton, it's a great place for the whole family.

For the past two years Anna has been working to develop a line of gourmet products, using ingredients grown on the farm, that includes skin care, sauces, condiments, teas and more.

"We make what we like to eat," she said recently, and just like the farm has gained a cult following, so too have the products especially the honey.

Australian and international buyers got their chance to taste Anna's range of honey and more, at this year's 29th annual Fine Food Australia exhibit at Darling Harbour this week.

Honeycomb Valley Farm is one of 16 NSW-based manufacturers sponsored by the NSW Department of Trade and Investment (DTI) to showcase their produce in front of 24,000 representatives from 38 countries in the hope of raising their profile from acclaimed local producer to international competitor.

This is the first time Honeycomb Valley has taken part in Fine Food Australia and Anna says it wouldn't be possible without the NSW DTI sponsorship.

"It's really great. On our own there's no way we'd be able to go," she said.

Their unique honey retails at $200 for 20ml in specially designed collectible glass containers putting it in a similarly exclusive class to truffles.

The honey is regarded as a culinary delight that makes having a sweet tooth a very expensive habit but, says apiarist Anna , it is worth every cent for its exuberant cascade of flavours.

"It's a beautiful honey. An absolute delight. It's at once sweet, sour, zingy, lemony, eucalyptus-like, medicinal and similar to fortified wine,'' she says.

"But it can't be produced in commercial quantities."

The honey comes from the stingless (unless you include $200 for 20ml) Australian native bee, also called the sugarbag bee, that Anna and her family breed at the delightfully apt Honeycomb Valley Farm.

It is home, the Campbells say, to millions of bees of all shapes and varieties.

Anna says only a "couple of hundred thousand" are precious sugarbag bees. It's almost small enough to live comfortably on the head of a pin and still have room to invite friends over to drink mead.

Size-wise it compares to a black ant. It lives in a hive on the Campbell farm that is sometimes only as big as a shoebox.

The sugarbag, despite its suggestive storage capacity, is a minimal producer of honey which increases its scarcity, this being reflected in the price.

A hive of thousands of sugarbag bees averages less than a kilo of prized honey a year.

Even without the glass collectible container sugarbag honey can still set you back anything up to $15 for 70 grams.

Australian honey is mostly made by honey bees introduced from Europe but sugarbag has its own special flavour and was a highly prized food of Aborigines who hunted it from wild nests.

Anna and her family have been at Nabiac for seven years after they decided they wanted to raise their children in a more sustainable, eco-conscious manner.

"It's about making a living from living, rather than living to live," she said and they've been using food to help spread the message.

She hoped that Fine Food might help them to expand their products and gain more stockists throughout Australia, while also informing people about sustainable living.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop