For quite some time, many people on Aquidneck Island didn’t even consider that Jeff the Beeman had a last name. Plenty of folks still call him by that well-earned sobriquet, but it’s not entirely accurate. Sure, Jeff Mello made his mark by selling his pure, raw, local, chemical-free Aquidneck Honey at area farmer’s markets, local food markets, shops and boutiques for years, but he’s come a long way from the pair of hives he once kept at his house in Newport. Today, Jeff’s 1,000+ hives can be found across four states, and some of those busy bees are hard at work pollinating crops at Rhode Island farms, estates and backyard gardens. Jeff is also busy tending to his 50 chickens, 20 raised beds, eight goats and tons of varieties of herbs and vegetables on his nearly two acres of land in Tiverton. “It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever done,” says Jeff with unabashed joy in his voice. “I’ve made a destination for people – I have people here every day… They say it’s just so real. It’s not pretentious, it’s not even pretty, but with our food – to see it, smell it, taste it.”
“My goal is to teach people how create a real working homestead; how to produce all their own food and pollinate their crops. We have to pay attention to this stuff.” Jeff is unquestionably talented and indisputably hard working, but it’s also part of his DNA. His grandfather came to this country as a Portuguese immigrant and became an exceptional gardener. Jeff would spend weekends helping his grandfather, at first landscaping and then tending to the garden. To say Jeff Mello’s grandfather would be proud would be an understatement.