Bush Organics, Kangaroo Island – Following the Bees
Bush Organics is Lara’s collaboration with nature. Lara produces organic and naturally harvested, raw medicinal Ligurian Bee honey. She uses this in her lovingly handcrafted medicinal and botanical body products, hand spun honey and beeswax candles. I am fascinated as Lara tells me her story of how she became a natural beekeeper and I can’t wait to buy her beautiful gift boxes and medicinal honeycomb as Christmas gifts for a few special people!
First and foremost, Lara Tilbrook is an environmentalist. Lara clearly speaks from her heart as she tells me she is at her happiest when surrounded by nature and loves discovering what flowers bees are foraging and looking up different plant species.
Lara’s small sustainable beehives live on this unspoiled Kangaroo Island land full of rich, native vegetation. Her kindness to bees and respect for nature is such that she is custodian to a large area of pristine land in the northwest region of Kangaroo Island, which is rich in Mallee, Melaleuca and Tea Tree.
Talented Lara is also an environmental artist and her ‘National Treasure’ necklace made of banksia leaves and recycled copper was highly commended in the 2012 Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize, generating awareness of environmental issues affecting Kangaroo Island.
Bush Organics was born when Lara created her original product, Calendula Salve, to heal and nourish her baby daughter’s skin. Jeannie, now 8 years old, was born on Kangaroo Island and is an integral part of the family business.
Jeannie loves interacting with customers at the Willunga Farmers Market each week and delights in telling me, ‘Our honey tastings are very popular with children’. Lara is ‘overwhelmed by the genuine friendliness of community’ at the Willunga Farmers Market and loves to support the community herself. She says Jeannie is also involved with the beekeeping, especially at harvest time.
Harvest time on Kangaroo Island runs from September through to Autumn and Lara tells me, ‘it’s like being in another world – mesmerising and timeless – each harvest is different, its own micro universe’. I love hearing how Lara’s beekeeping is a completely natural process, in harmony with nature. She uses no chemicals and the hives are coated only with beeswax. The honey is completely raw, unheated and lightly sieved. ‘This is the best way to hold the enzymes and all the medicinal goodness’, says Lara.
As a child growing up in Belair, Lara recalls her love of exploring the land and happy memories of family holidays on Kangaroo Island. After completing a Bachelor of Design, Lara became a goldsmith. This led to a decade of success in London, crafting custom made jewellery. Trade shows took her around the world but Lara missed the peace of the bush she experienced in earlier years.
Returning home 12 years ago, Lara settled on Kangaroo Island and realised she had an intrinsic connection with bees and honey. She loved making honey cakes and had a family tradition of sending her Dad jars of honey on her travels. Lara points out the ‘liquid gold’ correlation between her early years as a goldsmith and the exquisite honey she loves to create.
Working with the award winning Wild Harvest Olive Oil, Lara chooses to use their handcrafted olive oil in all her body products. Wild Harvest Olive Oil’s Phil Mather harvests olives from wild trees and relinquished groves in the Fleurieu and throughout South Australia. This form of harvesting helps protect the native vegetation and ecology. His wonderful olive oils are unfiltered and pressed within two days of harvest, enhancing their flavour.
Bush Organics has just released their premium range of honey with bush flavours from Lara’s own property. Other exciting new products in the pipeline include beeswax pillar candles that burn up to five days and a medicinal honey mead with native currants.
Lara loves to spend time supporting the community but her heart will always belong in the bush. She and her daughter Jeannie can often be found ‘travelling the dirt road, finding bits and bobs – art treasures – along the way’.
Where to buy Bush Organics products:
*Please note gift boxes are only available online, at the Willunga Farmers Market and Fleurieu Art House
www.bushorganics.com.au (online store please order by 12 noon on 15th December to ensure Christmas delivery)
Willunga Farmers Market (only two more market days until Christmas, 9th and 16th December)
Fleurieu Art House at Hardy’s Tintara, 202 Main Road, McClaren Vale (Tuesday, Wednesday,
Where to buy Wild Harvest Olive Oil:
www.wildharvestoliveoil.org.au (online store)
Willunga Farmers Market (9th and 16th December are the last dates for 2017)
NB Photos provided by Bush Organics and Wild Harvest Olive Oil