MEET

Rachel Coventry

honey • apples • pumpkins

Rachel Coventry

Champaign, IL

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WORLD’S BEST HONEY

Honey from my family’s orchard is very fruit forward and won the title “Best Tasting Honey in the World” in 2016. As the resident beekeeper, I couldn’t “bee” more excited! A wide variety of flowering plants within a three-mile radius of the orchard gives the honeybees a lot of different nectar to work with. Of course there are apple blossoms, but there also are strawberries, raspberries, clover, cherries, plums, peaches and wild flowers.

Getting Into Bees

I started learning about bees in Paraguay with the Peace Corps. When I returned home, I spent time learning the art of beekeeping from my grandpa Paul Curtis. I continue to learn more and more about these fascinating creatures today by working with Master Beekeeper, Maggie Wachter.

About my family

I am the beekeeper and store manager at my family’s farm, Curtis Orchard. My husband Jeremy and I stay busy raising our 1-year-old twin girls!

(Photography by Mike Tedesco, Illinois Partners Magazine.)

My Blog Posts

AS THE FAMILY GROWS, SO DOES THE FARM
OUR BEES MAKE THE WORLD’S BEST HONEY, BUT THAT’S NOT ALL
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    Local Food

    "We supply our visitors with fresh local apples, honey, berries, pumpkins and more!"
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AS THE FAMILY GROWS, SO DOES THE FARM

From prairie, to farmland, to apple orchard … how this piece of Central Illinois has changed! Many local farms have expanded and changed over the years to support a growing family, and we are proud to be one of them.

For most of its history, the Curtis family farm sustained the family through corn, soybeans and hogs, but by the time my grandpa Paul married my grandma Joyce in 1956, the farm had become too small to support the growing family. One day, as Grandpa mulled over his options, he savored the satisfying crunch of a juicy apple, and the answer became obvious. He decided to transform the farm into an apple orchard.

In 1977, Paul and Joyce took the first small step by planting 700 trees on three acres. As they prepared to open their doors to the public three years later, a hailstorm came through and damaged much of the apple crop. Grandpa Paul still has a saying from that year: “When life gives you lemons you make lemonade, but when life gives you hail-damaged apples you make apple cider.” He went out and bought a small cider press that year and started making apple cider. It has been an award-winning Curtis Orchard favorite ever since.

Over time, Paul and Joyce’s children and grandchildren (including me) joined the family business and it grew into the Curtis Orchard that we see today. Things certainly look different than the 700 baby trees that were originally planted here, but we are still just a local family living the dream that Grandma and Grandpa Curtis had nearly 40 years ago, supplying our visitors with fresh local apples, honey, berries, pumpkins and more!

Photography by Mike Tedesco, Illinois Partners Magazine.