Get to know an artist who holds a deep compassion for our honeybees. Her name is Christina Renee Adkins, and she is the owner/operator of Sweet Iris Farm out of Grassy Meadows, WV. Christina makes organic bath and body products including: Raw Honey and Sugar Body Scrubs; Herb and Grain Clay Face Mask; Beeswax, Calendula and Plantain Healing Hand Salve; Beeswax Lip Balm; Beeswax Tinted Lip Gloss; Nightly Face Oil; Raw Honey and Goats Milk Soap; and Herb and Goats Milk Gardeners Soap.
She also makes “Save the Pollinators” organic cotton t-shirts. “The honeybees are dying. Poisoned by the chemicals that saturate our agricultural system. Their plight is our own,” says Christina. To help fund honeybee health research, she created these shirt as a way to help get the message of their struggle and to help fund the cause. $5 of each shirt sold is donated to pollinatorpartnership.org. She tells us that “Every little bit helps.” All of Christina’s products listed in this feature are available at the Wild Bean, downtown Lewisburg’s go-to coffee shop/wi-fi hot spot. Learn more about Christina with our Q&A:
1. When did you start Sweet Iris Farm and why?
I bought my property right out of college. A fixer upper house and nearly three acres of swampy grass in Grassy Meadows WV, that I slowly converted into a working organically managed homestead. I always new I wanted to farm, although, I had no background in it. I wanted to raise my own organic food and happy, healthy animals. I needed to feel a deeper connection to the things that sustain my life. The bees came a bit later.
I had always had a fascination with honeybees. Perfect beings who live all their lives doing no harm to any other living thing. Pollinating the plants that produce the food we need. I had dreams of buzzing bees in the garden and golden honey on my bread and set up my first hive three years ago. As I watched them and cared for them, I fell madly in love. I now have five hives with plans for many more.
(I’m not really set up for visitors at this time. In the future I wish to give tours and teach people a bit about my apiary and how the farm is set up.)
2. How do you describe your palette?
Nature is my palette and the bees are the center of it all. Raw honey, wax, and propilis are some of nature’s most powerful healers. Combined with herbs from the garden, along with other organic ingredients, I created natural, healthy alternatives to some everyday, chemical laden, products I no longer felt safe putting on my body. I wanted to share these things with others, so that they could drop some of the chemicals out of their lives as well, while financing more honeybee projects. It is my hope to start a new business getting people set up with their own bees and teach them how to care for them using natural and responsible methods.
3. What’s your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment is my farm and my ‘Self’. Digging into the dirt, planting my trouble and flowers, heartache and vegetable’s, this farm and I grew and cultivated each other. We both became stronger, healthier, more self reliant, and capable. My heart is truly buried here forever.
4. What obstacles do you need to overcome to find your creative space/muse?
Self doubt has always plagued me. It’s something that I battle constantly. But all I have to do to reassure myself is sit in my garden. Watch the bees buzzing from flower to flower and bask in their peace.
5. How do you find your inspiration?
The natural world. In the orange petals of the healing calendula and the sunlight shining through a jar of raw honey on the counter. In the need we all have inside of us to feel more connected to the simple way the earth provides all that’s necessary for us to live.
6. What advice do you have for other artists?
Never give up on whatever your art may be. It is a reflection of your soul. Share it. It’s beautiful.
Find Christina on facebook via the farm @sweetirisfarm. She updates her page almost daily with happenings around the property, recipes, farming/gardening tips, and more.
– LBSPY 68, August 2015.