The Marshall's Farm Honey Story

We, at Marshall's Farm, take a hand-crafted approach to traditional honey production. Our Beekeeper, Spencer Marshall, harvests small quantities of superior quality gourmet honey in the very special microclimates of the San Francisco Bay Area. Spencer searches out locations that support only a few hives but produce exceptional tasting kinds of honey. The diverse and constantly changing seasonal blooms of the Bay Area (Eucalyptus, Star Thistle, Wildflower, Blackberry, and others) produce floral nectars and pollens that differ greatly in taste, texture, and color. Spencer harvests after each bloom, isolates the honey harvested from each apiary, and thus creates the special flavor nuances and wonderful color variations in Marshall's Farm delectably delicious honey.

Our 100% pure natural honey will last forever and needs no refrigeration. If left in a cool place it may crystallize. If you prefer liquid honey, immerse the jar in a pot of water 3/4 of the way to the top with the lid off until the honey re-liquefies, using low heat, then let it cool. If you look closely you can see natural pollen particles floating in the honey - some pollen remains as our honey is only lightly filtered. Honey is a healing, healthful, fat-free food with minerals, and vitamins. We use our honey every day, in tea, on toast, in baking, in dressings, marinades and sauces and on salads, fruits, veggies and meats. We hope you will, too.

 

WHO'S WHO @ MARSHALL'S FARM

SPENCER MARSHALL -THE BEEKEEPER
by Helene Marshall, the Beekeeper's Wife

SPENCER MARSHALL was born in McMinnville, Oregon. His mother, Grace, & his father, Frank were both offspring of many generations of family farmers. Their families farmed wheat & grain, turkeys & cattle. If there was a crop to farm, I believe they farmed it. Spencer's paternal Grandma loved bees. She had a few hives on their Yam Hill Farm. When Spencer saw his Grandma working the hives, his curiosity was aroused. The Marshall Family moved to Crescent City, where Frank Marshall got into the Logging Business. The Grandparents Marshall moved to California where they started a Dairy in the Lodi area. The successful dairy produced prize-winning milk that was used by California's schools. The success of the dairy brought Spencer's family to the Lodi area as well. Frank & Grace took over the dairy. Eventually, the dairy was sold, & the Marshalls bought acreage in Acampo, near Lodi. On this parcel of land, they raised grains & started a harvesting business.

Spencer moved away from the farm, went to college, had various jobs teaching, gardening, producing videos, & running a career development agency. After living in the Sacramento & San Jose areas, Spencer came to Marin County where he earned his living doing carpentry & remodeling in Sausalito. Unfortunately, Spencer's father was seriously injured, & the family needed Spencer to run the harvesting operations at the Acampo ranch. While living at the ranch, Spencer started up a few beehives so that he would have something of his own to develop while taking over the harvesting operation & caring for his injured father. By trial & error, Spencer learned more & more about beekeeping. Pollination is big business in California's central valley. The almond crop is totally dependent on honey bees for pollination. There was a need for more hives for pollination. Spencer saw this as a good way to make enough money to pay for his slowly growing bee operation. He signed a few pollination contracts & started moving his bees to the almond groves, the cherry & apple orchards, & the clover fields of the San Joaquin Valley. He used the money earned from pollination to buy used equipment & hives from beekeepers who were "giving-it-up" This is how Spencer began to develop apiaries in several locations. Spencer still maintained a residence in Marin County. He would alternate his family responsibilities with his carpentry & remodeling jobs. The bees, however, became an obsession for Spencer. He wasn't happy just having bees in the Central Valley. To satisfy his yearning, he started up a few hives in Marin County.

HELENE MARSHALL - The Beekeeper's Wife-Helene Marshall was a city girl, born & raised in San Francisco. The last thing she ever thought would happen to her would be to have a farmer for a husband. Helene studied Art and got her degree in Sculpture at UC Berkeley. She taught Junior High School Art in Syracuse N.Y. raised two daughters in Hingham, Massachusetts. She had a successful ceramic wind-chime business & sailed her 32' ketch during those hot, steamy New England summers. Helene always dreamed about returning to the San Francisco Bay Area someday. Because of childhood memories & her passion for boats and sailing, she decided on Marin County as her destination. The time came for the move. Needing a home for her chime business, Helene bought a commercial building on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in Fairfax, the busiest street in Marin County. The Hingham house was sold, & the yard sale was held. The last thing Helene sold was all the "old bee stuff" that was part of her former life. A forestry professor at UC introduced Helene to bees & beekeeping. There was always a beehive in her yard, but she was not a beekeeper & certainly would not need that stuff in Marin! One year after her move, in 1989, Helene was introduced to Spencer. "He's a Beekeeper," said the mutual friend who introduced them. Her response was, "Do you have Italians or Caucasians?" "I have Carnolians," he said. .....and that was the beginning of a sweet relationship & Marshall's Farm.

FARMER & CITY GIRL TOGETHER: At the time they met, Spencer was dreaming about doing Farmers' Markets to sell his honey. Helene had been in the gift business doing Craft Fairs & Gift Shows in N.Y., San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, & Atlanta for so long, that doing a Farmers' Market didn't seem like such a big deal. It seemed like it would be a lot of fun.

One day, by accident, Spencer left a hive full of bees in Helene's van. She was going to do a Craft Fair to sell her chimes at Apple Hill near Placerville. When she got there, she found the hive (not yet buzzing) & a bucket of honey. She set the hive out as part of her display & put the honey out - for sale - next to the hives. As the day heated up, the bees buzzed & she put the hive back in the van. She sold $20 worth of honey that day & drove back to the ranch with a van-full of flying, buzzing bees. Spencer greeted her with a smirk on his face. She said, "Here's some money, honey!" Together they got the concept for the label & decided to name the business in the old family tradition. Spencer liked the Yin-Yang symbol because it is very "Marin." It also represents perfect balance & honey is a perfectly balanced food. Helene designed the label. Gold (because it was Spencer's 50th birthday) with the Yin-Yang sun setting behind the dancing Golden Gate Bridge because, by then, Spencer had populated many of the counties by the bay with Marshall's Farm apiaries. There were 20 hives on the roof of the building on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. The complementary talents of Spencer and Helene grew the farm to its current state. 

Sadly, Helene Marshall passed away from a long battle with Cancer in May of 2016.  Spencer Marshall, his crew & their hard-working Bay Area bees are now running the show at Marshall’s Farm. Helene is missed greatly although her legacy continues on with the spirit of the Marshall's Honey.

AUNT BEE (Aunt Bernice Glickfeld): From her apartment balcony, Aunt Bernice could see the festive tents at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market. One day she told us that we should be selling our honey at that market. We took her advice, applied, & we were accepted on a substitute basis. When David Gingrass, then co-owner of "Postrio's" with Wolfgang Puck, asked if he could buy our honey for his restaurant, Aunt B. said, "Give him anything he wants1" That was our first restaurant account. Aunt Bernice passed away at a Sweet 91 years old.  She was a real honey!

 

Down on the Farm

ALI MARSHALL, Spencer Marshall's daughter in law was able to help Spencer run the company after his wife, Helene passed away. Ali arrived to a mountain of mail and fit right in, as her experience was as an Executive Assistant. Because she had no mentor to learn from, Ali had to learn on her own how to run a honey company. She took a business class, passed her Food Manager's Safety Exam, and taught herself how to manage grocery store accounts, Certified Producer's Certificates,  the Secretary of State documents, DBA, Health Inspections, Human Recourses and all that goes into running a company.  Two years later, Spencer decided to give her the title of Executive Director, and Secretary as it better suited her job description. In August of 2019 a longtime favorite employee Carlos, the Operations Manager moved on to greener pastures and so Ali has taken over the role of Operations Manager as well, driving the forklift for the very first time.

 

Who's Who at the Farmer's Markets

LARRY SIGMUND: A California native, Larry & Helene Marshall actually went to George Washington High School in San Francisco at the same time.  It wasn't until years later, at a Farmers' Market dinner party, that Larry & Helene had "where did you grow up?" conversation and realized that we were both native San Franciscans.  We never would have guessed that we would both be working down on the farm!  Larry is a great asset.  You will see him working at the Farmers' Markets, delivering honey to Bay Area stores and filling bottles and loading trucks at the farm.  His presence at Marshall's Farm has been a sweet connection.

JOSH HALPERN: Josh Halpern has a background in local food justice and filmmaking from his upbringing in New York and New Jersey, and has worked on organic farms from Hawaii to the Himalayas. In Spring 2013 he received an MA in Integral Ecology from CIIS. His work and art can be found at outsidejosh.com. Sharing Marshall's Honey with the Bay Area community is his favorite job ever. You will find Josh at our Stonestown and Grand Lake Farmers' Markets. 

SPENCER MARSHALL currently works the Sunday Marin Civic Center farmers market with his son Gary. Spencer continues his work as a beekeeper, often does deliveries and maintains the farm.  

 

 

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