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For honey-based wellness products, Gresham's a good place to bee

Local couple expand production facility for bee-based healing items


OUTLOOK PHOTO: SHANNON O. WELLS - Matthew Morris operates a volumetric piston filler in the production area at Mickelberry Gardens: Hive Products for Health, a new Gresham business specializing in bee- and honey-based salves, tonics and wellness products. When Madelyn Morris took an organic beekeeping class years ago — “on a whim,” she says — little did she know the gesture would turn into a career move, particularly one centered on wellness products.

“I’d been interested in organic gardening, homesteading. We kept chickens. Beekeeping seemed an interesting extension of that,” she says.

Before Madelyn and her husband, Matt Morris, knew it, they were full-fledged beekeepers with an excess of the profession’s primary yield.

“We went from two hives to seven hives,” Matt explains. “We had all this honey. So we thought, ‘What can we do with it?’”

What they’re doing with their honey now is selling it, some in its original form, but more innovatively as sweet-tasting organic medicinal and wellness products.

The couple’s Mickelberry Gardens: Hive Products for Health business — named from Madelyn’s side of the family — officially opened for business last week in the former Bumblebee Farms cooperative organic food market at 645 S.E. 223rd Ave./Fairview Drive. The Morrisses and their staff of three concoct, mix, bottle and package and sell a variety of organic healing remedies — tonics, salves, tinctures and ointments — using raw honey, beeswax, bee pollen and propolis — a fragrant, anti-microbial resin bees derive from cone-bearing trees.OUTLOOK PHOTO: SHANNON O. WELLS - Madelyn Morris, left, and her husband, Matthew Morris, have expanded Mickelberry Gardens, a bee-based wellness product business, into the former Bumblebee Farm organic grocery and Deli on Southeast 223rd Avenue.

They sell their 15 products from their website, mickelberrygardens.com, through stores such as New Seasons, Whole Foods and Willams-Sonoma, boutiques and wellness clinics, and now from their Gresham retail shop, which occupies a tiny corner of space at the facility primarily devoted to production and administration.

The couple, which had a small kitchen in the back of Bumblebee Farms for years, started their retail ventures through the Gresham Farmers’ Market.

“We’ve always wanted to start a business, but never had quite the right idea,” Madelyn says. “We decided to combine beekeeping, making honey, and wellness products into stuff that’s really good for you, and see where it goes. We started super small, with one farmers market booth, and slowly expanded from that.”

For the uninitiated, honey, in addition to its intoxicating flavor, possesses healing antimicrobial elements.

“Part of what makes it useful as medicine, and it’s useful for lots of common ailments including the common cold, is because it’s soothing on the throat and digestive tract,” Madelyn explains. “It’s been (used) as a healing substance for a lot of different cultures.”

Despite assumptions to the contrary, Matthew stresses that honey and its byproducts are scrutinized as much as with non-organic foods and medicines.

“We’re highly regulated,” he says.

Although the Morrisses don’t plan to have a high-profile retail presence at their Gresham facility, they do intend to broaden their products’ reach now that they’re settled in at the new facility.

“We hope we’re poising ourselves to be lot more widely available in Pacific Northwest,” Madelyn says.

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