Liz and Mike Beavertailhow we got started

We live on the south side of Providence, where we’ve turned a third acre into a small urban farm with 40 fruit trees, a flock of chickens, a bee hive, and a garden.

Our salt endeavor began in 2011 on a beach at the northern tip of Jamestown; it was dark, and it was winter. One night we wondered about salt – that primal and essential ingredient that makes itself felt in virtually everything we eat, that is the foundation of foods from kraut and kimchi to prosciutto and bacalhau. We wondered if we, living on the shores of the Narragansett Bay, could make a salt reminiscent of the salty spray that makes Rhode Island summers so special, that has kept us here for a decade and inspired us to become and stay Rhode Islanders.

This question brought us to Jamestown with four buckets and a car unprepared for the beach freeze. Lugging buckets across rainy beach, we loaded the car, coaxed it over a mound of ice, and brought our sea water back to Providence. A few days later we had made salt – big crystals that tasted like the waters we spent years in, snorkeling, quohoging, and swimming. We were excited! We shared our excitement and our salt with friends and family, and soon requests for salt found us back on the shore, hauling water across slightly less icy beaches. Lab analysis ensured our salt was safe to eat, and since then we have served our own salt needs and those of our friends and family exclusively with water from the Narragansett Bay.

Regular salt production led to an exciting discovery: although each batch tasted uniquely of the Narragansett Bay, each also tasted slightly different from the rest. Even batches from the same sites at different times of year, under different tidal conditions yielded different flavors. Tracking these differences between sites is one of the things that has kept this project so satisfying. This variability in flavor – due to changes in mineral content by site, season, weather, and tide – has fascinated those that use our salt, and we always receive requests for information about the context from which their salt came.

Each year, we are driven back to our work in the yard: to our garden for our vegetables, to our chickens for our eggs, to our bees for pollinating the orchard; most importantly, to the beaches in Rhode Island, which drag us through each winter, holding the promise of another season by the water. Our salt keeps us by the water; we hope it does the same for you, and brings a little taste of that water back to our plates.

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