Last Morsel—From Farm to Spa
Written onNovember 28 , 2013
As Cynthea Wight Hausman was growing up—first on a commune in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and later on her family’s New Hampshire homestead—fresh and organic foods were plentiful. In her teens, Cynthea made her own remedies and lotions from herbs and flowers gathered from the woods and gardens surrounding her home. More recently, when both she and her son fell ill with different autoimmune responses on the same day, she renewed her commitment to knowing the story of food, where it comes from, and how it’s raised, while committing herself to also knowing about the chemicals used in body products.
Eventually, Cynthea launched her own line of locally-sourced spa products, in 2011. Vermont Farm to Spa Body Products are used and sold at Cynthea’s Spa, the day spa she runs on Church Street in Burlington, and are sold at Healthy Living Market in South Burlington and Shelburne Vineyards. The products—mostly body lotions and exfoliating body scrubs—are crafted with locally sourced flowers, herbs, berries, vegetables, and other goods.
Cynthea and her young son, Evan, walk through farmers’ markets and comb local orchards, berry bushes, and farms to see what will be on the Spa Scrub menu that week. If an herb, flower, vegetable, or berry is in season locally, Cynthea chooses it based on its effect on health and well-being. A concoction could include blueberries with lemon balm, organic pumpkin and apples, or roses and lavender. Ingredients must be fresh, local, and sourced as close to the spa as possible to create the smallest carbon footprint. The coffee she uses for her caffeine-based line comes from Speeder and Earl’s, a Vermont-based mother-daughter business. She also sources red wine pomace from Shelburne Vineyards, and cocoa from the Vermont Brownie Company.
When you get a massage from Cynthea, she mixes a custom-made batch of local body scrub just prior to your treatment and explains each ingredient, where it comes from, and why she’s designing that product just for you and your skin type. While at her spa recently, I saw her mix up Dead Sea salts, olive oil, organic grape seed oil, organic calendula petals and lemon balm, a type of mint that she’d gotten earlier that morning from a garden at the Intervale. All the clients who come to the spa for a treatment leave with a sample of their own custom scrub, which has a good shelf life.
It’s a far cry from the commercial world of skin care, which uses natural ingredients much less often than it uses the word natural in its marketing. By sourcing locally from Vermont farmers and growers, Cynthea offers freshness, organically sustainable farming methods, and a strong sense of place to all those who enjoy the scrubs, oils, candles, and lotions in her product line. The products also reflect Cynthea’s understanding of the importance of healthy local ingredients—and of our need every now and then for a little indulgence.