Paradis Valley Honey held an “Alberta Open Farm Day,” August 17, at its location in Watino, on Highway 49, approximately 96 kilometers northeast of Grande Prairie, and 85Km southwest of Peace River.
The Peace River region, with its abundance of clover and its normally warm summer days and cool nights, is ideal for producing high-quality honey for which the area is renowned.
Owned and operated by Danny and Ginette Paradis, Paradis Valley Honey produces pure, unprocessed honey, carefully extracted to ensure that the product remains unadulterated, in its raw, natural state.
In excess of eighty people attended the event, and took a tour of the Paradis Valley facility, with Danny Paradis offering an informative primer on the complex and interesting aspects of bee keeping and the various stages of honey extraction, pollen and bees wax.
Bee keeping is an important aspect of the local economy and culture and many people who attended the event are local farmers on whose land, Paradis Valley Honey places its beehives.
However, those who attended the event were not all local, with the prize for the longest distance travelled to the event going a Yukoner name Victor who hails from west of Whitehorse, an impressive 3,700kms from Watino.
The Paradis family has been involved in beekeeping for seven generations going back to St. Hughes Quebec.
The family established its first apiary in this area when Charles Paradis, hearing that the area was ideal for bee keeping, moved from Quebec to the Peace River region in the 1950s.
Currently, Paradis Valley Honey sells over 90 percent of its product in bulk to larger entities and about five percent under its own label.
The regular clover honey production can be as many as 1,000 barrels while a blueberry honey from the colonies sent to the B.C. lower mainland, is a specialty product that amounts to approximately 30 barrels.
In an initiative to expand Paradis Vallley Honey brand and to offer the local community a place to gather while enjoying coffee and pastries, Danny and Ginette opened the Valley Bee Café at their apiary location in Watino.
The Valley Bee Café is also an excellent place for people to drop in and take a break when travelling on Highway 49.
Honey production is an extremely labour intensive process and Paradis Valley Honey currently employs sixteen employees, some of whom are students working through the summer.
Along with tours of the Paradis Valley facility, the open farm day also featured, specialty drinks, mural exploration, kids games, prizes and a local vendors market.
“I really enjoyed the support from the community,” says Danny Paradis. “We are excited that people are receptive to us and they should come visit us anytime at the farm-gate because something is always going on.”