When life gives you unworkable soil, try farming salt. That’s exactly what Curtis and Heidi Feldman did when the small plot of land they purchased in 2001 with the thought of growing crops turned out to be useless clay atop limited soil. Undaunted, the two decided to stick with their dreams of leaving their mainland lives and establishing a farm on the Vineyard. Heidi realized that there was no local sea salt on the Island, so she and Curtis looked to the ocean for their “crop” source. In 2013, the Feldmans revived the centuries-old Vineyard tradition of farming salt when they launched their line, Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt.
Harvesting and preparing sea salt for consumption isn’t easy. Curtis and Heidi must gather thousands of gallons of saltwater; filter out any sand, seaweed, and other organic matter, evaporate the water and leave the remaining sea salt to dry over time in a huge solar greenhouse-type structure; pile it into mounds for further evaporation; and then carefully gather the crystals for packaging. It’s a time-consuming, tedious process, but one that yields the purest product possible.
“We don’t add chlorine bleach, or drying or anti-caking agents,” Feldman says. “All of those things are considered quote, unquote, ‘safe,’ as per regulations. We want you to be able to taste the salt.”
Along with the natural flavor of salt, the Feldmans also create blends to combine the natural flavor of their salt with other complementary ingredients. Nine unique blends are available, including lemon verbena and dill; sumac, paprika, and garlic; local smoked oak; turmeric, cranberry, and white pepper; blueberry honey; herbes de Provence; porcini; and something they call “Naughty” — a blend of sea salt and activated charcoal.
M.V. Sea Salt offers its products in three- or five-pack assortments, salt spritzers, 3.5-ounce hostess jars, and pretty 5.5-oz jars decorated with a ribbon of sea glass.
Whichever you choose, M.V. Sea Salt products make the perfect gift from the Vineyard. “We want people to experience the taste and the joy of the Vineyard,” Heidi says. “They can put that salt on their tongue, and they’re right back there on the Island.”
M.V. Sea Salt is available from various purveyors around the Island, or buy directly from the website: mvseasalt.com.