Garry Rodgers may be a man of nine lives. He’s already been through two, having died twice, once in the States and the second time doing what he now does best, moving his bees from Lennox Head back to Newrybar and getting stung in the process. ‘I get stung all the time,’ he says with the philosophy of a man who’s stared death in the face. This time, however, he went into anaphylactic shock and was rushed to hospital to be resuscitated. ‘I had to be paddled,’ he laughs.
Garry’s Honey Wagon is a bright yellow stall from whence he’s been dispensing his sweet wares for about 20 years. He’d made the move to the region in a bid to leave behind the corporate life, twenty years in television, ten in Southeast Asia. Armed with horticultural qualifications he bought a farm ‘to get healthy’, he tells me, ending up with a stone-fruit one on which were two bee hives.
Hail three years in a row put an end to the stone fruit, so Garry and his wife decided to learn all about beekeeping. ‘It’s just farming,’ he says, ‘fraught with the same dangers but the same good things too.’
Over the years he’s won swags of awards from shows like the Sydney Royal Easter, Hawkesbury Agricultural and Bangalow. There’s his creamed honey in plain, cinnamon and ginger; ironbark; macadamia; red gum; and rainforest. There’s honeycomb and bee pollen, and there’s Garry’s great pride, the Active Jellybush. ‘Australia’s Manuka’, as he refers to it, is famous for its antibacterial properties. ‘It’s a Rolls-Royce taste in honey,’ he tells me, going on to say that he consumes it every day, along with pollen. ‘Good for gut health and immunity,’ he says. I leave him, inspired to try his tip of adding honey to roast lamb. Yum!
Find the Honey Wagon at the New Brighton Farmers Market every Tuesday 8–11am, and Mullumbimby Farmers Market every Friday 7–11am.