|Posted by sedaliaareafarmersmarket on July 8, 2009 at 12:41 AM|
You know that wonderful smell wafting near the north Market entrance? A delightful mix of rosemary, mint, and lavender, among other things? It doesn't take long for your nose to find the source: Annie and Mark Albright's stall filled with handmade vinegars, soaps, scrubs, balms, and more. Last Thursday, we were honored and thrilled to tour the Albright's Bright Hope Farm.
Traveling over the river and through the woods, we arrived at the heavenly Bright Hope Farm in northeast Pettis County. Mark, along with Bruce Bird of Ozark Prairie Apiary, were checking the hives of Italian bees just off of Annie's elderberry patch (lucky bees), which was in full bloom. (It's going to be a great year for elderberries.) Shortly thereafter, we met the California bees, up close and personal, on the other side of the farm, just off the edge of a beautiful sweet corn patch. (And for those of you curious enough to ask the question: yes, there's a highly noticeable, and somewhat predictable difference between the two types of bees. The Italian bees are hot-tempered, while the California bees are laid back surfer types.)
Bright Hope is a diverse farm, from chickens and geese, to goats, cats, and dogs (one that Annie rescued, and two happy Pugs). Though Annie has a declared aversion to snakes, it seems as though most anything could thrive under her caring and watchful eye. The house, tucked into a grove of trees, is surrounded by live herbs. Annie names them off like old friends, espousing their unique qualities, be it calming, healing, energizing, etc. She is a recently certified master gardener (though I think she probably earned the title through experience long ago). Mark, a horticulture instructor at State Fair Community College, is also vice president of the Sedalia Area Farmers' Market board.
After traipsing and tasting through the blueberry and blackberry patches (and sampling a few at Annie's urging), we toured her sun-loving herb garden, complete with both native and cultivated varieties. My kids most enjoyed the herb aptly named "Sweet Annie" for its glorious spicy citrus scent, and were delighted when Annie pulled some from the ground for us to plant at our home.
All of this herbal goodness is processed and made ready for Market in Annie's cozy shop in the basement of the Albright home. Though she does buy a few herbs in bulk to meet her client's needs, most you will find come right off of her drying rack. Her soap making is a days long process, requiring patience and skill. If you've not had the pleasure of using one of her handmade soaps, try it just once, and I guarantee you will not want to go back to harsh store-bought soaps again. Her soaps are as good on the last use as the first, and just as sweet smelling (or manly smelling, if you so desire).
And finally, out past the hammock, in the shade at the edge of the sunny garden, Annie treated us to the best of summertime pleasures: special recipe ice cold lemonade and lemon balm cake, garnished with mint sprigs and blueberries. We sat and chatted, enjoying the cool breeze, good company, and beautiful Bright Hope Farm. Enjoy the photos!
While visiting the hot-tempered Italian bees, we kept our distance with a zoom lens.
Who is teaching whom? Mark, a proven bee charmer, is apparently also a baby charmer (Riley, granddaughter of market master Brenda Raetz).
Evidence of a good elderberry year!
The tassling sweet corn patch.
Geese and rooster, too!
Echinacea, commonly known as purple coneflower.
Rudebeckia, aka black-eyed Susans.
Apples on the way!
Board member Bev Hayes delighting in the blueberry patch.
Fresh cut soaps drying in Annie's shop.
This piece of lemon balm cake was gone seconds later.