Tracy Hunter is the fourth generation of his family to keep bees and produce honey. But what he and his wife, Christina, have created in Morgan County, Ind., is more than just a place with beehives where you can stop by and purchase honey. Hunter’s Honey Farm southwest of Martinsville is an agritourism destination — a place people drive out of their way to visit, and while they’re there, they buy honey and a myriad of products that the Hunters produce from it.
Besides being a beekeeper, Tracy is a teacher by trade. He taught biology at Indian Creek High School in Johnson County until retiring last year. Christina still teaches family and consumer education there. Both put their teaching skills to work in their agritourism venture, educating consumers about bees, honey and environmental stewardship, all at the same time.
They began keeping bees where they now live in 1990. “The tourism thing sort of started as an accident,” Tracy recalls. “A 4-H club wanted to meet here and see what we do, and the kids were very interested in the bees. Pretty soon, the agritourism thing just took off.”
Today, the Hunters offer a variety of tours during months when it’s suitable to be outside. Tours involving the beehives are still popular, Tracy notes. They incorporate education into the tours, hoping to teach visitors as much about nature and stewardship as possible.
The 2021 tours will include more about monarch butterflies. The Hunters received a grant from Bayer’s America’s Farmers Grow Communities fund after being nominated by a neighboring farmer, Ann Lankford. She has an affinity for helping promote the reestablishment of monarch butterflies. The grant is facilitated through the Morgan County Community Foundation. The Hunters intend to plant more milkweed to attract butterflies, include talks about them on tours, and build a special area that should facilitate viewing butterflies and other insects.
The Hunters proudly display a River Friendly Farmer sign awarded by the Indiana Conservation Partnership within their on-farm store. They also have wooded property where they conduct timber stand improvement as needed. In 2000, they planted 2,000 Christmas trees, and have maintained that business, extending their sales season for products deep into the fall.
What catches a visitor’s eye, however, are the dozens of products made from beeswax or honey they offer in the store.
“One of our specialties is producing different flavors of honey,” Tracy says. “We even make one which requires allowing the honey to sit in wooden barrels that bourbon was made in. It picks up the flavor from the barrels.”
The hallmark of their operation is still education, he believes. That includes educating employees.
“We make a lot of different products and sell lots of honey, but the best part is working with people and helping them learn about what we do out here,” Tracy concludes.