It’s a locavore age, with many consumers deeply invested in the source and story behind everything from their face cream to their goat’s milk gouda. As food trends shift back to the land, farm-fresh products are gaining more traction. Family-owned farms offer a remedy to faceless corporations, and offer products crafted with consideration and care. From the old-world Italian “pork butter” (aka spallacia) created at Iowa’s La Quercia to the natural beauty products concocted by high-end Rhode Island apothecary Farmaesthetics, it’s a good time to celebrate the homegrown goodness offered up at farms across the country.
Former interior designer Derek Bedford and his wife Jennifer, a former pastry chef, create soap using organic local cow’s milk and vegan-friendly coconut milk. “We grow all of our own vegetables and herbs, and our soaps have been designed around them,” says Bedford, who also incorporates locally ground flowers, herbs and oatmeal into their Possum Hollow Farm soaps. New rosemary lavender peppermint and eucalyptus mint lemongrass soaps are designed to last up to three times longer than typical soaps. Get them for $7 a bar at West Elm, and at Bedford Ciampa.
Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery got its start in 1968, when the Bice family packed up their 10 children—and their city lives—for the idyllic Sebastopol, California countryside. The siblings eventually grew to love it, and today, five of them still play an instrumental role in the operation of their family’s goat farm, made famous by its award-winning raw milk feta (up for purchase at Redwood Hill Farm). In 2003, the farm became the first certified-humane U.S. goat dairy. “We’re really proud of that; they were our pets growing up and we love them. We wanted to pave the way for other dairy milk producers to do the same thing,” explains Sharon Bice, who handles marketing for the family farm. Her farm’s latest introduction, a brightly packaged, probiotic goat’s milk kefir, is actually a revival of a faddish product her family produced in the ’70s. The sweet and tangy fermented beverage is widely available throughout the U.S. Find a store near you by clicking here.
Botanical skincare company Farmaesthetics founder Brenda Brock hails from seven generations of Texas farmers. And she swears by products that “are 100 percent natural...Not 99 percent natural, not made with ‘nature identicals.’” Her hypo-allergenic, dermatologic-quality ingredients include carrot seed oil, castor oil, aloe, peppermint and locally sourced beeswax. Many of the ingredients in Farmaesthetics’ high-end beauty products are sourced from a Newport, Rhode Island farm and end up at swanky outposts like the Four Seasons Resorts. The Herbal Hydration Complex, a cooling mask made from organic shea butter, local beeswax, oatmeal, peppermint and organic witch hazel heals and moisturizes skin while banning excess oil. $47 at Farmaesthetics.
A resort and farm rolled into one, Tennessee’s Blackberry Farm is dedicated to growing and preserving the foodways of the past. Mushroom ketchup has been used in the kitchen at Blackberry Farm for 13 years, but was only introduced as a retail product in 2013. Resident preservationist Shannon Walker explains that Blackberry Farm concocted the condiment as an homage to a colonial recipe and to utilize leftover mushrooms foraged on the grounds. This spin on classic ketchup combines funghi with onions, garlic and sorghum for a divine burger topping or vegetable dip, for $13.50 at Blackberry Farm.
Importing the art of dry-curing meat from Parma, Italy to the American heartland, Herb and Kathy Eckhouse set up an enterprise in Norwalk, Iowa that’s become legendary for its world-class salami, prosciutto, pancetta, coppa, speck, lonza, guanciale and lardo. Their newest is Tanworth spallacia, the product of acorn-fed hogs raised on a 120-acre plot in the Ozark mountains, where they forage for acorns and hickory nuts and are tended by “pope of pork” farmer Russ Kremer. The Eckhouses source all of their pork from regional farms and offer their customers the peace of mind of knowing the source of their delicacies. By sourcing and then preparing livestock in this traditional way, the Eckhouses have produced a rich, complex meat that they hope will become the “new American flavor.” See what all of the fuss is about at La Quercia.