Westwind Orchard's raw honey wins a 2015 Good Food Award

Above: Raw honey made by bees at Westwind Orchard in Accord. Photo via the Westwind Orchard website

Westwind Orchard, an organic farm in the Ulster County hamlet of Accord, has won a 2015 Good Food Award for its raw unpasteurized honey.

Farmers Fabio Chizzola and Laura Ferrara, city transplants who have spent twelve years turning their derelict apple orchard into a popular U-Pick apple attraction, should be proud.

Bees and apple blossoms go together well, according to Chizzola on the Westwind Orchard website

It all started in 2008. That year, we “rented” bees to pollinate our trees and help make our crop. All year long, I was fascinated. Not only did the bees perform a necessary role in the orchard, but the way they buzzed around the orchard in their highly organized social structure tantalized my intrigue. So, I took some classes from the most amazing “Bee Doctor” in the area (Chris Harp), and was hooked!!!! The next year we started our own bee-adventure with 2 hives, and we now have nearly 12. We have Italian and Russian queens (very respectable lineage!) that do the work of laying eggs and rearing the young. We respect every bees’ hard work (there is lots to do in as well as outside the hive) and so let them swarm if that’s what they need (commercial apiaries clip the wings of the queens, so they can’t swarm). And if we are lucky to experience this amazing event, we’ll try to capture the swarm to make a new colony. But if we don’t: oh well! That’s more for Mother Nature. And yes, we do collect and sell their honey, but we also leave plenty for them to survive on through the winter (bees need to eat, too!).

The Good Food Awards are a national competition, based in San Francisco and presided over by slow food guru and chef Alice Waters, that picks over 100 foods made across the U.S. to celebrate every year. 

The competition has same kinds of categories you see at the county fair: honey, preserves, pickles, etc. (Westwind won in the honey category.) Then it adds a hipster foodie sensibility, with an emphasis on small producers and liberal use of the terms "sustainability," "authentic" and "responsible." The awards ceremony, which took place yesterday in San Francisco, featured a keynote address byNew York Times food writer Mark Bittman. 

Last year, several Catskills food makers won Good Food Awards, including the Shokan chocolate maker Fruition Chocolate (for Brown Butter Bourbon Caramels and Dominican 70% chocolate) and the Walton-based Delaware Phoenix Distillery (for Delaware Phoenix Rye & Delaware Phoenix Bourbon).