What $10,000 Would Mean for Valhalla Organics

Our farm is a finalist for a $10,000 "Cultivating Change" grant! If we win, we would use the grant funds to increase the apiary (more bees, new hives, and bigger electric fence), and to contribute toward the purchase of a 4WD vehicle to safely transport bees and people.




The winner will be decided by online votes in January, so we need your help to win. Voting only takes a minute (you'll need to give your email address to register), and each person can vote once per day.

You can sign up right here to vote for us to win! (Note this form will direct you away from this page, and you’ll have another chance to sign up at the bottom if you want to read through first).

 

Riding in Cars with Bees

Our most pressing need is a dependable vehicle. Until recently, we had an old Ford Explorer, but the truck was retired this year. It is extremely challenging to transport bees and bee equipment in Ruby’s 20-year-old two-wheel drive compact car.  The apiary is located more than two hours from our home, over several mountain passes, culminating in an unmaintained dirt road to get to the farm. Conditions can be dangerous in inclement weather, and the route is best driven a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Ruby typically makes the four-hour roundtrip journey several times per week - sometimes the car is full of farm equipment, soil, or tools but often, the car is full of bees. When she purchases new hives or brings the bees to pollinate local organic farms, she must transport several hives at once, and they won't all fit in the trunk. There is no alternative other than to drive with bees in the back seat, stopping frequently along the way to release escapees. It will be a game changer to have a proper vehicle that would allow Ruby to safely transport the bees -- and all their bulky equipment -- to and from the apiary in a separate compartment.

Ruby’s Goals for Apiary Expansion 

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I successfully established the apiary in 2017 with two hives, and increased to five hives overwintering in 2018. In 2019, I will increase the apiary to at least 10-15 hives: this expansion plan requires infrastructure to support sustainable growth. Creating a larger apiary requires building more benches (the bee hives must be sited a few feet off the ground) and building more bee boxes to house the bees. These additional hives and benches will require an expansion of the existing solar-powered electric fence which surrounds the apiary to protect the hives from predators including bears and skunks.  

Of course, apiary expansion also means I need more bees! The most important outcome for the apiary is to raise bees that are best suited to thrive in the local climate. When expanding the apiary, the goals are two-fold:

1. To increase by splitting our hives and encouraging the bees to raise their own locally adapted queens.

2. To introduce new genetics that improve and diversify the gene pool with characteristics that increase hardiness to local conditions by purchasing nucleus ("nuc") hives and queens from reputable sources with successful genetic lines. 

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I will split healthy, thriving hives in spring of 2019; some of the "splits" will raise their own queens, and some will be re-queened with new genetics. We will purchase up to five nucleus hives, plus five queen bees to add Russian and Saskatraz genetic lines to the apiary. These breeds of bees are uniquely adapted and evolved to thrive in the rugged climate of Oregon's Klamath Mountains.

Budget Breakdown

Bees - $1,325= 5 nucleus hives ($225 each) & 5 queen bees ($40 each)

Bee Equipment - $2,150 - 10 Hive Bodies ($150 each), 3 Benches ($50 each), Electric fence materials ($525).

4WD Vehicle - $6,500 in Grant Funds (plus funds from our savings, since the full cost is estimated at $10,000-$12,000)

Why This Matters

Honey bees, native bees, and other pollinators are declining - and our farm is uniquely poised to support both our honey bee colonies and our native pollinators. The apiary abuts 2.3 million acres of wilderness land in the Fremont-Winema National Forest, where the bees forage on a plethora of wildflowers from early spring through late fall.

Our land management strategies are designed to increase and strengthen the natural biodiversity of the ecosystem, for example raising native mason and leaf-cutter bees as well as our honey bees, and planting native wildflowers and trees.

Organic farming creates a safe environment for bees and pollinators. Healthy bees mean better pollination, which results in greater crop yields for the farm.

Some of the world's most pressing problems can be addressed by supporting small farms and apiaries like ours that prioritize restoration of habitat, support for native species, and farming in harmony with nature.

Please Sign Up to Vote for Valhalla Organics to Win This Game-Changing Grant!

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Extra, Extra, Read All About It!!

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Each month, we send an email newsletter to folks who want to know what’s happening on our farm and where to find us at events around the Rogue Valley. In case you missed our emails, or you just want to see what we’ve been up to each month this year (starting in April with our very first newsletter), here is our year in review!

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April 2018

May 2018

June 2018

July 2018

August 2018

September 2018

October 2018

November 2018

December 2018

As you can see, we include a lot of pictures and stories about what we’re building, growing, and making — and there is always a coupon or deal you can use to save $$ on our homemade goodies.

If you’re not already signed up for our emails, please join by clicking here. We ONLY send one per month, so we never spam you… and we never share your contact info with anyone!

Stocking Your Shelves with Goodies

Did you know that you can order our delicious goodies in bulk? You can save $$ while stocking your shelves with our homemade homegrown treats. All of our products are naturally vegan and gluten-free. We grow vegetables, fruits, and herbs - and we source ingredients from local organic and certified naturally grown farmers.

We offer discount pricing for bulk orders (5 or more jars of the same size/type) for our classic recipes.

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Jams, Jellies, and Preserves

▪ Apple Butter
▪ Apple Jelly
▪ Apple Pie Jam
▪ Blackberry Jam
▪ Grape Jelly
▪ Habanero Apple Jelly
▪ Jalapeño Jelly
▪ Mulled Apple Cider Jelly
▪ Peach Apple Jelly
▪ Peach Blackberry Jam

Our preserves are available in half pint (8 oz) for bulk orders of five or ten jars.

Five Half Pints - Choose Pickles or Preserves
35.00

You will receive FIVE half pint (8 oz) jars, and save $$ by ordering in bulk. You’ll be prompted to select from our full line of goodies when you check out with this item.

Quantity:
Add To Cart
Ten Half Pints - Choose Pickles or Preserves
70.00

You will receive TEN half pint (8 oz) jars, and save $$ by ordering in bulk. You’ll be prompted to select from our full line of goodies when you check out with this item.

Quantity:
Add To Cart
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Pickles

▪ Bread & Butter Pickles
▪ Cowgirl Candy (sweet pickled jalapeños)
▪ Garlic Dill Pickles
▪ Dill Pickles
▪ Pickled Beets
▪ Pickled Jalapeño (savory)
▪ Pickled Vegetable Medley
▪ Spicy Dill Pickles

Our pickles are available in half pint (8 oz) or pint (16 oz) sizes for bulk orders of five or ten jars.

Five Pints - Pickles Only
50.00

You will receive FIVE pint (16 oz) jars, and save $$ by ordering in bulk. You’ll be prompted to select from our full line of goodies when you check out with this item.

Quantity:
Add To Cart
Ten Pints - Pickles Only
100.00

You will receive TEN pint (16 oz) jars, and save $$ by ordering in bulk. You’ll be prompted to select from our full line of goodies when you check out with this item.

Quantity:
Add To Cart

We ship anywhere in the U.S.

Shipping rates are determined by the weight of your package; we strive to keep the cost as low as possible.

Or you can pick up your bulk order at the local farmer's markets or at our mini-farm in Talent.

If you plan to pick up your order, please use discount code "LOCAL" to remove the shipping charge at checkout.

Water Saga

One of the most challenging things about building an off-grid farm is managing water. We don't have a well or running water on the property, so we had to haul water until we could get our tanks installed, and then of course, the tanks have to be filled, and water has to be moved around the property for different things (like bathing, drinking, watering bees, trees, & plants, etc). We just got the final water delivery for the season, and it's a huge relief to know we have the water that we need to live and support life on our land. 

It was amazing to watch the truck that delivered the water navigating down the driveway - it got a bit sketchy on the way back up, but he made it out so that's what matters. 

 

Four Walls and A Roof

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This may look like a tiny house, but it's actually a shed.

However, this tiny building provides welcome relief from the elements. It's completely unfinished inside, and we'll need to insulate it, but this right here is a gamechanger.

We worked together to level a spot for it, and spread a truckload of gravel to make sure it had a solid base.

It only took 3 hours for 2 guys to build it from start to finish and it's really solid & well-put-together. 

Check out the process in the pics!

The Trailer Saga Continues...

It has been more difficult and time-consuming than we'd initially planned to get this old trailer repaired and functional, requiring deep cleaning to remove a lot of mold and things you don't even want to know about. It's nowhere near finished, but at least we've made it clean enough to cook and store food. The fridge works, the lights work, the shower works, we've identified and temporarily patched the water leaks, and the rest of it is getting there bit by bit. 

Welcome Home, Bees!!

Here are some selected pictures and videos of the apiary installation. We are so pleased that our five hives are doing so well!!

Ruby drove for 2 and a half hours with four little beehives in the trunk and one in the back seat. A few bees escaped into the car, but never more than a dozen at once. She stopped a few times along the way to let bees out - but she didn’t get stung!

We set up stern warning signs all around the apiary to make sure nobody wanders into the bee yard - and also to deter anyone who might be interested on coming onto the property. 

We set up stern warning signs all around the apiary to make sure nobody wanders into the bee yard - and also to deter anyone who might be interested on coming onto the property. 

Installing the hives - Ruby staged the small "nucleus" hives next to the big hives they would be moving into. It was like tetris but with thousands of bees.

Installing the hives - Ruby staged the small "nucleus" hives next to the big hives they would be moving into. It was like tetris but with thousands of bees.

This is a five-frame "nucleus" hive - Ruby picked up five of these small hives from a local apiary that specializes in "survivor bees" that are locally adapted to Southern Oregon. 

This is a five-frame "nucleus" hive - Ruby picked up five of these small hives from a local apiary that specializes in "survivor bees" that are locally adapted to Southern Oregon. 

Each nucleus hive was moved, frame by frame, into a bigger box with space for eight frames. The far left is a feeder (there is a special "bee tea" inside that will help them to build up their colony), then the five original nucleus frames, then two frames that were already partially filled with resources (honey, nectar, pollen) by last year's bees. 

Each nucleus hive was moved, frame by frame, into a bigger box with space for eight frames. The far left is a feeder (there is a special "bee tea" inside that will help them to build up their colony), then the five original nucleus frames, then two frames that were already partially filled with resources (honey, nectar, pollen) by last year's bees. 

The big bee with the pink dot is QUEEN CLEOPATRA. See how different she looks than the worker bees who are attending to her?

The big bee with the pink dot is QUEEN CLEOPATRA. See how different she looks than the worker bees who are attending to her?

This is all POLLEN that the bees collected and stored in the hive. 

This is all POLLEN that the bees collected and stored in the hive. 

We are planting native wildflowers and trees to supplement the pollen and nectar sources available for bees and local native pollinators. We planted two small patches of native columbine along the path to the apiary (and there's already a bunch growing on the land). 

We are planting native wildflowers and trees to supplement the pollen and nectar sources available for bees and local native pollinators. We planted two small patches of native columbine along the path to the apiary (and there's already a bunch growing on the land). 

This is the apiary, all set up! From left to right, the hives are named: Cleopatra, Sickle, Lil Kim the Queen Bee, Beyonce, and Queen Lateefah. 

This is the apiary, all set up! From left to right, the hives are named: Cleopatra, Sickle, Lil Kim the Queen Bee, Beyonce, and Queen Lateefah. 

Building The Greenhouses

Watch the process unfold from the beginning to completion! We started by marking the area where we wanted to build last fall, then in April Chris began excavating and clearing, built and skinned the first greenhouse (with a little help!), installed the solar panels and fans... and VOILA! We have a fully functioning, 100% sustainable solar powered greenhouse. 

The second greenhouse, like a second child, has far fewer pictures documenting the build, but here’s a few.