By Jillian Rivers.
Steps away from Duxbury Bay sits a historic 10-acre farm that’s home to Duxbury Saltworks. The sun warms the hill where, in the future, restored peach and apple trees will bloom. Owner Lily Leedom and her golden retriever warmly greet us and our tour of Duxbury Saltworks begins. Coated with oyster shells, the grounds leading to her antique salt processing house are immersed in an abundance of greenery. Lily guides us to the top of the hill where the house is perched. Upon entering we see a workspace filled with buckets of saltwater waiting to be processed. In 2018, Lily proudly opened Saltworks with the mission to make the highest quality local salt in our region and promote its health benefits.
Salt is universally used as the volume knob in everyday cooking on everything from bar pretzels to caviar. In the modern age, we take salt for granted due to its affordable price and easy access. However, in Roman times, salt was a highly-prized commodity comparable to gold. In fact, it held so much value that the word “salary” was derived from the Latin word for “salt.” Then, as with most modern luxuries, taxation and industrialization eventually brought salt to tables large and small.
Even though salt is readily available, not all salt is created equal. Through her research, Lily discovered regular table salt to be heavily processed from underground salt mines, stripping it of all its natural essential nutrients and minerals. By contrast, sea salt processed from a local source retains those nutrients and naturally provides the health benefits of potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium.
Duxbury Saltworks sea salt is harvested through a natural process of evaporating sea water from Duxbury Bay. Lily first gathers the water in buckets and brings it back to her processing facility. Then, the water is tested in a local lab to ensure purity. Next, the water is simmered slowly until evaporated by half. From there, it sits in a heated cabinet where large flaky crystals form. Lily simply skims the water from time to time, removing the larger salt crystals as they form. To complete the process, she grinds the crystals for bottling.
The taste of Duxbury Saltworks sea salt evokes great memories of growing up on the South Shore. The waters of Duxbury Bay yield a unique, refreshing taste, like ocean water sprayed lightly onto your lips. And, of course, the sea salt pairs beautifully with local fare such as oysters, seafood, and seasonal produce.
Lily is creating a vibrant collaborative community through Saltworks, promoting healthy living by teaming up with local businesses such as The Hale Bone Broth and Jenny D’s Bees. Jenny DeFreitas, a Kingston honey producer, plans to keep hives on the property where she and Lily will work on their sweet and salty subscription box. Jenny’s honey jars and Lily’s salt are sold together on the Duxbury Saltworks website. The two products make a powerful match, creating a South Shore-based, artisanal pairing.
As Lily’s journey continues, she hopes to make her farm space more community-based by holding events like farm dinners and offering locally grown produce for sale. Lily avows Saltworks’ and the farm’s mission to “live vibrant lives encompassing health, wellness, eating delicious food, and connecting with nature.”
Jillian Rivers is a Plymouth cook who has a passion and curiosity for everything involving food and nature. She has worked professionally in kitchens for the past decade and is an avid gardener.