WORDS: KATE WEINER
IMAGES: COURTESY of SWEET HONEY FARMACY INSTAGRAM
Scrolling through Sweet Honey Farmacy's Instagram feed during a little Loam "research" session, I felt as if I'd found a kindred spirit. Jme's snapshots of full moon harvests and medicine making resonated with the kind of life I envision for myself. My morning meditations and evening walks and weekend hikes rarely feel like enough: I want every day to be rich with the loamy goodness and succulent sun kisses that I experienced during my summers working in urban agriculture. Sweet Honey Farmacy rekindled that dream.
I recently reached out to Jme of Sweet Honey to talk wild crafting and creative freedom. Jme's journey into homesteading took root during a "magical" ten-month apprenticeship at a homestead in Canada and has since grown into an ongoing education with herbalists in Oregon. Our conversation inspired me to get making: my hope is that Jme's wise words will do the same for you!
It's been four growing seasons since Jme connected with Co-Founder Lili Tova of Flying Coyote Farms. Jme met Lili at a little farmers' market in Sandy and the two quickly bonded over their passion for farming and interest in homesteading; of what it felt like, Jme shares, "being around all this abundance." Jme joined the Flying Coyote Farm, and after several years working on an isolated farm, found home.
For most farmers, late spring through fall are full with sowing seeds and reaping the harvest. The dormant winter days, however, bring the opportunity to try something new. Jme and Liliy began to craft together during their downtime, mixing herbal remedies, fermenting goods, slow cooking nourishing bone broths. Their little passion project grew branches after their success at Portland's annual plant medicine gathering. "We had no intention of starting a business," Jme says, "but we had such a tremendous response."
Jme moved to Flying Coyote, drawn by the opportunity to grow an herb garden and inspired by Sweet Honey's succulent momentum. At first, Sweet Honey was focused on nutritional products—nutrient-dense broths, probiotic-rich products—that were made in-house. When Flying Coyote established an internship program, however, Jme and Lili split roles and Jme, now the Farmacy's sole owner, expanded Sweet Honey to integrate contributions from their growing customer base as well as to reflect Oregon's rich climate.
As Jme notes: "My product line has changed [over the years]. It's now a small line of herbal medicine. I get to glean goat's milk for soap making [...] I have a small apiary share and so honey figures into my products. It's a really special relationship." Jme takes cues from the world surrounding and that, to me, is what makes Sweet Honey so beautiful. This Farmacy is about seeing how we fit into nature and not how nature can cleave to us. "I've gone through so much change in the last few years," Jme says. "I'm actually taking this summer to be in process [...] in an expansive place where I'm just trying to listen to see where [Sweet Honey] wants to go instead of trying to create something for her to go toward."
This generosity of spirit and trust in the process is part of the Sweet Honey Farmacy experience. Through Sweet Honey's hands-on workshops, Jme is able to share the skills that have helped the Farmacy thrive. "It's so exciting for me to be able to turn people onto the process," Jme tells me. "I love demystifying the process. Last winter, I taught an herbal body class during the holiday season so that people could make gifts for their family. I remember when I was learning [how to make my own salves] and I was like 'really?' I get to see that [spark] in people's experience."
Moving forward, it's Jme's mission to continue to tune into where Sweet Honey wants to go and nourish opportunities to teach. "Sweet Honey is still in a moldable place [...] I want her to grow how I'm growing. I want to stay small enough that I don't have a big account that will lock me in forever. [My hope is to] teach people as I'm learning and have a lot of creative freedom." Jme would like to incorporate a seasonal, CSA-model product line that empowers individuals to take control of their physical and emotional wellbeing during the changing seasons. Manifesting this project, however, is contingent on the stirrings of Sweet Honey's soul.
We're rarely invited to listen to our projects. Talking to Jme reminds me that Loam is a creature of her own. She's bigger than me, has a complex vision I could never control. To Jme, Sweet Honey is neither purely business nor solely a passion."[It's a way]" Jme shares, "to keep me active in what I'm already interested in. I get to stay committed to that practice which is important to me. I get to be more honest and authentic with my value system."
Sweet Honey Farmacy is hard work because creating is hard work. It takes love and discipline and a willingness to learn. But hearing Jme treats Sweet Honey as her own entity—as this luscious something that exists outside of Jme—strikes me as a bighearted way to take off the pressure to be productive.
Our passions, our projects, have lives of their own. What would happen if we gave these lives their own space to grow? If Sweet Honey's success is any inkling, it would be pretty damn sweet.