Tata Harper, What's Your 'Local'?
To me, “local” is opening the fridge each morning and pulling out our glass bottles of raw milk from the cows that live just up the road and over the hill, at our friends the Seilers’ organic farm. It’s knowing that in two weeks the milk will taste a little different, because the cows will be switching from grazing to eating hay.
“Local” is the ease of gathering eggs from our 20 or so chickens that roam the grass outside our barns, and scrambling them up with tomatoes from our garden outside the front door.
When we have friends visiting, “local” is pulling ground beef from the freezer for the grill. The beef is from my husband’s herd of about 120 Scottish Highland cattle that live peacefully through the year on our farm on some hundred acres of their own.
I lived for years in cities around the world, and now my husband and I have settled here, on 1,200 Shoreham acres that include forest, field, garden and business. Running a business here—specifically, we handcraft 100% natural, nontoxic high-performance skincare products—for the last seven or so years, and everything that that means, has solidified much of my relationship with Vermont. Employing some of my neighbors and local friends and being conscious of how what we do affects our local ecosystem and environment—these things and more deeply link us to this place.
As I’ve come to see firsthand the importance of helping to grow the local economy by keeping dollars nearby, it’s affirmed what I’ve always believed: If you have the option to purchase food from your neighbor versus from someone across the country, choose what’s nearby. I try to factor that into everything we buy for the house. It means our house is full of local antiques, cookbooks by Vermont authors and Vermont wool socks.
This translates to skincare, too. My natural (seriously—not a single synthetic chemical ingredient) anti-aging skincare and aromatherapy products have as many locally grown ingredients in them as possible. The freshness and potency that comes with the fact that, for example, calendula and lavender can be harvested from our fields one day and their oils used in a serum a few weeks later—that’s amazing. There’s a bit of our Vermont farm in each bottle.
As our company grows and stores around the world carry our Vermont-made products, and as I spend more time traveling to support the business, my Vermont home becomes more important. It’s my place to relax with family and to enjoy the peace that our farm setting brings me. It’s a place I’m so glad to have my life headquartered.
That sense of home—for me, my family, my business—that’s “local.”