By Contributing Writer Ashley Furtado
It’s chilly, the grass is beginning to crunch under my feet, and the only sounds to be heard are the occasional “moos” and “neighs” from cows and horses. There’s a few grunts from a couple lonely hogs as I walk towards the open yard, until I find exactly who I’m looking for. There he is. Short, dark, and handsome. Four legged, hairy, and horned. Sounds crazy that this creature would produce a bar of soap right? Locally-sourced beauty products are becoming popular at local farms because they are all-natural and don’t harm animals. In Dartmouth especially, local farms are becoming more and more open to the idea of selling animal products to customers in the region. According to the Global Healing Center, milk from farm animals can “reduce inflammation and can truly benefit your skin’s health. Soap made from goat’s milk for example are wonderful for people with dry or sensitive skin, or conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.” (Global Healing Center 1). After reading about these impressive benefits, speaking to the local farmers that produce these products seemed to be the next step to take.
I was greeted by one of the farmers of Alderbrook Farms, a local Dartmouth farm that has been in business since the late 1800’s. John Thomas and his family, descendants of the original owners, intend to keep the farm in business, “for as long as God intends” John stated. Out of the corner of my eye, I can spot the family’s farm house, which is over 100 years old. After receiving a tour of his farm, and petting some very cute and adorable animals, I headed into their general store. Looking like something out of a western movie, the general store had everything. From old pamphlets and maps documenting the town, to cowhides on the wall, this store looked like it had everything if you needed to hitch your wagon somewhere. As I looked around in awe, John decided to show me the farm’s best selling products. It was there in the center of the room on the table was bars of goat milk soaps, something the farm has been gaining a lot of popularity for. All perfectly packaged and sealed, it was strangely surprising to me that the same goats I saw outside produced this bar of soap that I was holding in my hand.
I began to ask about the process of how the milk is gathered from the goat and the process it takes to transform it into soap, but I was informed by Thomas that this was a “family secret” and the process was kept highly underwraps. I was able to ask him if any of the goats are harmed during the making of the soaps, in which he proudly stated “We love our goats. That little brown one over there? His name’s Harry. See that orange-y looking one next to him? His name’s Ron. Like Harry Potter. We treat them like we would our own children. During the milking process all the goats are treated humanely and with care.” According to the wagging tails of the goats I saw outside, it appears that they really are as happy as they seem.
The benefits of using beauty products made naturally from the farm animals were shown to me first hand as I was beginning to leave the general store. Two women were buying goat soaps and I decided that I wanted to know how helpful this product is for the public. Janice Hartford described to me just how helpful goat milk has been for her and her family; “before using the soaps I had such awful and painful dry skin. It’s only now that I have started using these soaps that I have finally found comfort. I’m so glad I can buy these products right down the street from my house. I mean, how much more local can you get?” The second woman, Teresa Carriero, stated to me that her daughter uses goat milk to treat her acne, and told me goat milk soaps go beyond dry skin. “My daughter had horrible breakouts, and the only thing that’s really soothed it is the goat milk soaps. I come to the farm every so often just to buy these for her, and we don’t even live in town.” It is apparent from these two women and Global Healing Center that these soaps have a benefit in the community, and the animals seem very happy as well. Anyone who is curious about Alderbrook Farms and their products should stop by and take a peek inside, because you never know what you could find here. Anyone with any sort of skin problems should consider trying out any one of their numerous goat milk soaps. The goats will be happy that they’ve helped you in some way, and will be at the farm with tails wagging as you come back for more.