Who are the farmers who fill the tables of Upper West Side greenmarkets with fresh produce and homemade products? In the past, photographer Stephen Harmon has profiled the Locust Grove Fruit Farm and the Shannon Brook Farm. Now, he turns his camera toward Ballards Honey Farm, with its 600 hives.
Text and Photographs by Stephen Harmon
It was 10 degrees Thursday morning when I saw him hunched over in the cold behind his table displaying his three types of high-quality honey and honeycomb “candy.” His name is William (Bill) Ballard, and he is the third-generation owner and operator of Ballards Honey Farm, located about 100 miles upstate in Roxbury, NY.
When I think of a farm, I think of cows, chickens, pigs, fruit, and vegetables, not bees. Ballards Honey Farm, however, is all about the bees on three acres of land. There are not enough flowers on those three acres to support the 600 hives Bill Ballard cultivates, so he rents land from others in a 50-mile radius to place his hives. The bees make the honey in the spring and early summer, and it is harvested from July to September.
Ballards sell three types: Clover, with its beautiful golden color, is the mildest; Wildflower, the dark-colored honey, is the sweetest; and, Buckwheat is the thickest and sweetest, like molasses.
Bill Ballard drives down from Roxbury, starting out about 3:00 am, to work the Tucker Square Greenmarket on Broadway at West 66th Street, every Thursday. He works other greenmarkets on the East Side and in Brooklyn and Queens, but he has quite a loyal following at Tucker Square, where I saw a number of sales in the few minutes I observed his set up. The Clover Honey, which I bought is just delicious!