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Sean Murray’s Island Gold features a cinammon honey recipe

In Her Own Write
by Ann Thurlow

Island Gold Honey (photo: Ann Thurlow)I am here to taste cinnamon creamed honey. I get some on the spoon and try it. There is the deep rich flavour of honey, a burnished tang of cinnamon. I make that little noise that women make when something is really delicious. It feels like chocolate in my mouth. I know it’s supposed to go on toast, but I could eat it right out of the jar.

Sean Murray is watching me anxiously. He is the owner of Island Gold, a newly minted beekeeper and the developer of the cinnamon honey recipe. He’s pleased that the product is being so well received—and not just by me. It’s selling well and one fan loves it so much that she buys it by the bucket.

Not bad for the unlikeliest beekeeper on PEI.

Here’s the story. Sean Murray grew up in Guelph, Ontario, went to university and studied zoology which, oddly, turned out to be a good thing. He travelled in Australia, met Debbie MacDonald from Savage Harbour, PEI, moved with her to Rome.

And then fate, as it always does, intervened. Debbie had the chance to buy her grandmother’s home in Savage Harbour. They moved here and Sean became interested in Debbie’s father’s blueberry business. Or, more precisely, in the honeybees that are absolutely essential to blueberry pollination.

He worked for a year with the bee facility at Wyman’s. Remember that zoology degree? Suddenly, as he studied the best ways to raise and encourage bee populations, it was coming in very handy.

He bought an existing bee operation and there he was, a beekeeper.

I expected, when I met Sean, to find an evangelist for the health benefits of honey and cinnamon.

But he isn’t. (If you want to read about them, go just about anywhere on the internet). He developed the recipe after much trial and error (and, judging from the expression on Debbie’s face, some not very delicious mistakes). But he did it because of something he has really come to believe in—the great potential on PEI for the business of value added food.

He also sells plain honey—he did that from the start. But it’s adding value to the product that got him really excited. He was amazed at how much help was available to him from Innovation PEI and Bio Food Tech as he worked to develop his product—he actually couldn’t believe it, he says now.

And, if he has become an evangelist for anything, it’s for the potential offered by adding value to the crops PEI produces.

“What I do with our honey, I think people could do with other things,” he says. He thinks food production like his could provide a real incentive for people to move to PEI and start their own businesses. He points to the relatively low cost of land and, again, to the support he has received from government agencies and from the community.

“I think if more people knew about this, they might move here and try it. I really believe it—I don’t know why they wouldn’t.”

Island Gold Honey and Cinnamon Creamed Honey are available at shops including The Anne Store and the Riverview Country Market.

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