Sara Hewitt grew up as part of a diverse farming operation near Fairmont.
“Farming has always been part of my life,” said Hewitt, who talked about the operation she and her husband, Mark, have near Kilkenny during a presentation at the Redwood Falls Public Library.
The presentation was part of a series of ag-related topics being offered to the community to help create a better connection between the public and those who produce their food.
The Hewitts own and operate Sweet Cheeks Honey, which was established in 2014.
The plan for the operation from the beginning was simple – connecting the community to agriculture and offering a delicious product to those who consume it.
Hewitt, who works for the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and serves on the Minnesota Farm Bureau young farmers and ranchers committee, has dedicated her life to promoting agriculture and making sure others like her and her husband have opportunities to stay connected to the land.
“We bought a farm site two years ago,” said Hewitt, adding prior to that they were living in town while farming.
While the operation is primarily focused on crop production of corn and soybeans, it is in the niche market of honeybees that the Hewitts are gaining a reputation.
“We started with two hives,” said Hewitt, adding today they are able to produce about 500 pounds of honey annually.
The Hewitts raise an Italian breed of bees, adding there are 12 hives that make up the current operation.
According to Hewitt, the flavor of the honey that is produced by bees is dependent on the plant blossoms from which they are getting the nectar. What the bees are eating will come through in the honey. Hewitt admitted the bees they are raising are underproducing, but that is intentional.
For the Hewitts the focus is much more about ensuring bee health, and Sara said welfare for them is just as important as any other part of their farming operation.
“Bees are like livestock,” said Sara. “They need the right kind of care to prevent diseases and to ensure they are able to produce.”
Improving the overall health of their bees and ensuring they are well cared for will help production increase more naturally, said Hewitt.
The operators of Sweet Cheeks Honey are much more interested in getting the best out of the bees they have rather than seeing a lot of expansion.
Hewitt said one thing people may not think of when raising bees is that they, like other livestock species, need access to water.
In addition to raising bees, the Hewitts have also diversified to include precision agriculture work done by Mark, and they raise other animals, such as swine and poultry.
Ultimately, the Hewitts are interested in making their farming operation the only jobs they have. Until then they will continue working to improve what they offer to the public.
Learn more about the Hewitts and their operation on their Web site at www.sweetcheeks-honey.com.