Bee Happy: How This Florida Farmer is Bringing People Closer to Their Food

Lisa grew up on a farm in Jacksonville that’d been in her family since 1816. Although she lived and worked in the city, she escaped into nature on weekends, during vacations and whenever she could get away. She treasured those experiences, and when she retired in her late fifties, she wanted to offer that same sense of escape, wonder, and renewal to campers looking to get away from city life. We sat down with Lisa to hear more about her property, Good Karma Honey Bee N Bee, and how she’s connecting people to the source of their food.

Hipcamp: Tell us about your land and what makes it special.

Lisa: Our land is special because of its proximity to both Jacksonville and Fernandina Beach, which are destinations in themselves, as well as its peace and quiet of being away from the city. It is a natural spot, managed for birds, bees, and other wildlife, but it is also a working farm for producing honey and blueberries. It’s a great place to be in nature, yet convenient to the amenities of urban life.

Hipcamp: Why did you decide to join Hipcamp and to allow campers on your land?

Lisa: We have always enjoyed sharing our farm with other people and have hosted gatherings since we moved here.  We love where we live, we love sharing it with others, and we love providing experiences that connect people to nature, the land, and the source of their food. Hipcamp was a great way to connect to folks who appreciate those things as much as we do.

Hipcamp: Why is sharing your land important to you?

Lisa: We don’t view ourselves as the owners of our land. We are its stewards, and as such, we love to share it with others who are interested. If there is any hope for preserving natural spaces in the future, it is important for folks to be able to step away from their busy lives and reconnect with the land and nature. People only protect what they love, and we hope to foster some love.

Hipcamp: What do you tell campers about your land?

Lisa: We tell folks that our property is managed for wildlife, and especially for our honeybees. We have native plants and wildflowers that feed our bees, but are also beautiful. We tell them that we enjoy the peaceful nature that surrounds us and to experience the good karma that is coming their way.

Hipcamp: What kind of activities do campers participate in at or near your Hipcamp?

Lisa: We offer a couple of options at the farm for activities. There is always relaxing on the big deck with a fire in the fire ring, and interacting with our resident donkeys, Bonnet and Mason, who stop by for treats.  We can provide an intensive beginning beekeeper experience, for about 2.5 hours that will introduce them to everything they need to know as a beginning beekeeper. We also have a shorter bee experience for about an hour that will show them the basics of what we do with bees here at the farm and show them the workings of a live beehive.

We can also do a garden tour of our native and other gardens, depending on the season, as well as blueberry picking May through June. We have a certified yoga instructor who will come and provide yoga on the deck for our campers. Nearby, there is a 10,000-acre state forest where there is hiking and a boat ramp for kayaking or canoeing. Fernandina Beach is about 45 minutes away, and there is fine dining, historic tours, shopping, and of course the beach. Downtown Jacksonville is about 30 minutes away to enjoy nightlife and dining in the Springfield or Riverside areas.

Hipcamp: When is the best time to camp at your property?

Lisa: The best times to visit the farm are spring, fall and winter.  This is Florida, so the heat and humidity are oppressive in the summer, and of course, there is hurricane season. We have a cabin in North Carolina that we go to in July and August, and we have a spot there we hope to get on Hipcamp soon to escape the Florida heat.

Hipcamp: How would you describe your experience with Hipcamp so far?

Lisa: We have had a great experience with Hipcamp so far.  All of the staff have been great to work with and very responsive.  The website is easy to use and navigate. The campers have all be delightful and very appreciative and interested in experiencing what we offer.

The campers have all be delightful and very appreciative and interested in experiencing what we offer.

Hipcamp: What is your favorite part about listing your land on Hipcamp?

Lisa: I would say the ease of getting set up was a huge plus. It just could not be any easier. Also, the kinds of folks who come to Hipcamp seem to be those we want to attract.

Hipcamp: What is your most memorable experience with Hipcamp?

Lisa: I would have to say the woman who came with her husband who wanted to do the beekeeping experience because he just got honeybees. She had never been in a bee suit herself, but I didn’t know that, so I just put a suit on her and we went to see the bees.  She later mentioned it was her first time in a bee suit. It’s always nice to be someone’s first.

Hipcamp: Are you planning to make any improvements or additions to your Hipcamp?

Lisa: Yes, we just purchased the property next door to our farm and hope to add both additional overnight space and an organic vegetable garden for guests to purchase and cook fresh veggies.

Hipcamp: What are your dreams for your property?

Lisa: Our dreams are that this property will always be a sanctuary for bees, wildlife and people coming together to enjoy each other.

Hipcamp: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about becoming a camp host?

Lisa: I have encouraged others to consider Hipcamp, and I would advise them to think about the kind of experience they are offering and whether it would fit, and if so, to go for it. Hipcamp is easy to work with, and I tell them they would love it.

Hipcamp: What about advice for someone who’s already a camp host?

Lisa: I would say to always try to put yourself in your campers’ place and provide them with the kind of experience you would want for yourself. Going the extra mile and providing a few unexpected extras goes a long way.

Hipcamp: What’s one thing you want visitors to take away from your property?

Lisa: That you can act as a good steward of the land and still produce a product as a farmer. Nature and man can coexist, and we need the Earth more than it needs us.

There are many reasons to open your land to campers. Each host has their own reasons. Whether it is to earn extra income, or do your part to protect our earth—we are here to help. Your can read about why other hosts open their land on our Hipcamp Host Journal.

Inspired by Lisa’s stewardship and mission? Look into how you can share your land.

Shane Downing

Shane is an award-winning journalist based in Oakland. As a freelance writer, he’s passionate about covering the LGBTQ+ community, at-risk youth and local news. He's a former Hoodline editor, and his work regularly appears in Oakland Magazine and The San Francisco Business Times. When he's not writing, Shane is an avid baker, gardener and tennis player.

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