We believe in the power of knowing our source.
Early this spring, I had the pleasure of visiting Homestead Springs and chatting with Jane Myers, the our local lard producer. Jane and her husband Damon run an amazing farm in Ashland, Ohio. They’ve got everything from hogs to cows to freshwater trout and salmon!
We love how thoughtfully Damon and Jane approach agriculture. They’re the friendliest farmers I know, and we’re so proud to use their Berkshire lard in our soap.
Lard in soap? You may be wondering why. Sorry, it doesn’t make soap smell like bacon.
At RedbudSuds, we include locally sourced lard because it makes our bars hard (read: long-lasting) and gives a great stable lather. It’s also a fantastic alternative to palm oil, which many soap makers use for the same reason. Yet palm oil production worldwide is steeped in corruption, exploitation, and environmental degradation.* Why use such a controversial ingredient when we can get an effective, locally-grown alternative? We’re not even making any sacrifices here!
But it goes even deeper. We believe there's something truly profound in making connections within our community and using the resources at hand. I LOVE being able to call Jane up every time I need to restock. She’s friendly, knowledgeable, and extremely passionate about what she does.
Jane showed me around their butcher shop and even let me play with a few knives! She showed me right where the lard is made, and kindly agreed to answer some questions I thought you might find interesting. (Note: our words are paraphrased from my notes, not direct quotes.)
RedbudSuds: How did you get into farming?
Jane: (laughs) Damon was raised on a farm. I never thought I would get into farming; in fact I was a vegetarian for 10 years! We came into farming when Damon’s father passed away suddenly with cancer. We took over that September and thought we’d sell it off, but it seemed like too much to give up. We just kept at it and here we are.
RedbudSuds: Share with us what makes your hogs so special.
Jane: Our hogs are 100% Berkshire hogs, a heritage breed. They take longer to grow out than the breeds most growers use, especially the larger ones, but we love them because their meat is beautifully marbled and they have excellent flavor. They were actually known as “lard pigs.”
We also have our hogs from start to finish – we grow their feed, raise them up, and butcher them on site.
Many producers will label their product as Berkshire but only use 51% Berkshire pork, the minimum required by law. Ours is always 100% Berkshire.
We talked sustainability, too. I was amazed to learn how integrated their farm is: they grow the feed, raise the hogs from birth on up, use the “waste” from both the farm animals as well as their new salmon and trout runs to fertilize the fields, and the cycle begins again. Truly incredible.
Honest, practical, and a deep sense of gratitude: that’s what I saw when I visited Homestead Springs. Here’s my shout out to the Myers and Homestead Springs, a family farm that is working hard every single day to grow wholesome goodness that we can enjoy. Sustainability is about paying attention and supporting our neighbors, and I’m proud to be their customer and count them as friends!
Experience some of Homestead Spring's locally produced goodness yourself!
*To learn more about palm, watch GREEN, a fascinating documentary about production of palm oil and the rapidly diminishing habitat for wildlife such as the endangered red orangutan. Find the full video here for free.
**photos credits go to Homestead Springs!