My partner Sharyn and I had been working together for many years in the family business, and had lately been chatting about how we might combine our varied skills into a new venture.
We'd worked with Manuka honey previously, but it was on our long drive south as we relocated the family from Auckland to Christchurch that our new enterprise began to form. Sampling delicious honey offerings from roadside stalls proved to a foodie like Sharyn, irresistible. It was like nothing we'd ever tried before – natural, pure and regionally distinct; these were honeys that spoke of their environment. By the time we reached Christchurch, the business plan had been imagined and J.Friend and Co was born.
Several months of research and honey sampling followed, and with a few hives of our own we were able to establish a stall at a farmers market, further cementing our commitment to celebrating the work of New Zealand's bees.
From the outset, Sharyn and I knew we'd discovered a unique culinary point of view. Those honeys already available most often used pasteurising creaming methods that stripped out all the goodness and regional distinctiveness as they were blended together. We believed that like us, once people were introduced to the nuances of the individual honey varietals, dignity to honey as something beyond a generic condiment could be restored.
It has always been important that our honey reflect our values of honesty and integrity. Whilst significantly restricting the beekeepers we can work with, being certified organic has afforded us a niche point of view from which to start a conversation with our customers. We are also committed to reducing our negative impact on the environment and ensuring the planet's future survival for generations to come. This is why we are part of the carbonsouth certification program.
We are really inspired by the people we met in the early days, just a few short years ago, and so would like to thank the beekeepers who have been so enthusiastic about our ideas and keen to share their knowledge and time. We will forever treasure our memories of visiting areas of the country previously unknown to us, spotting the clusters of painted beehives proudly occupying some of New Zealand's most majestic locations. Talking to the beekeepers (some of them fourth generation!) really convinced us that we were doing the right thing – passing on their knowledge and educating hungry foodies as to the wonderful work achieved by farming's greatest unsung hero, the honey bee.