> Leave money, take honey May 25 2011

That's the policy at our little honey stand, where you put your money in a coffee can and take one jar of honey.

Marked by an old Ford 8N tractor and a yellow honey bear sign, we    consider our honey stand to be a little bit like the TruBee Honey outlet. It's where we re-use jars — any size, really — that once contained honey,   salsa, hot sauce, whatever. If we can sterilize the jars and lids, then we're inclined to recycle them and fill them with honey. We're saving money on packaging, so you're saving money on honey.

The stand is unmanned most of the time, although we watch from the front porch some. There are other times when I'm inside, and the dog lets out a noncommittal "woof" before turning in a circle to resume her nap on the front porch.

This is when I like to look out the window. It's easy to tell a first-time buyer from our seasoned regulars. Folks who aren't used to the set-up stand there a minute, a little incredulous. Then they often holler back to the open window on the passenger side: "I think you just put the money in the can."

Indeed, this honesty policy has served us well. This year marks the third year of the honey stand. The first time we set it up, on our property in Arrington, it was Mother's Day 2009. We had tinkered with the idea for a while, but decided to give it a try and hope not to be ripped off.

As we start our third year, we can report that folks cruising the back roads of Williamson County are pretty honest. I say "pretty" because we've been shortchanged a couple of times. Just the other day a person shorted us $2 and left a small stuffed animal that looked like it came out of a Happy Meal.

Actually, I can't be sure the same person did both things, and that's part of the attraction of this operation. It could be that one person paid full price and decided to leave a little surprise. Or, maybe the person without $2 will come back another day and pay up, something we've seen happen a few times. In fact, we've received personal checks, an IOU on Regions Bank letterhead (they came back and paid), and even some personal notes, thanking us for having the honey stand.

Since our property is along Wilson Pike, and is considered a scenic byway for cyclists, bikers, Sunday drivers and folks on their way to Arrington Vineyards, we get a lot of traffic from folks who are in a good mood.

Also, we only put the stand up on sunny days. But while that's probably the biggest "catch" for our customers (that, and you need exact change), we think the unpredictability of it is part of it's attraction. Part of the novelty.

I often see a vehicle stop and everyone gets out to take a look. Talk about novelty! Phones with cameras are enlisted to document proof that here, in Middle Tennessee, there's still something simple, that somewhere in the world there's a give-and-take based on honesty and trust.

We stick our necks out a little when we set the honey stand up, because we don't want to be ripped off. And I don't think I'm even talking about money. The greater loss certainly would be our faith in human nature, our belief that when you have high expectations from others they are often fulfilled, and vice-versa.

If you can put up with mismatched jars, unpredictable service (sunny days only!) and a cash-only system, we hope you'll visit our honey stand, where you leave money, take honey.