Sitting less than 100 yards from gardens and a variety of fruit trees on a farm in Charlottesville, I met with Dawn Story, founder of New Moon Naturals and Farmstead Ferments. Story tells me that she grew up in the Virginia Piedmont, and she was raised by a family who appreciated nature and a healthy diet.
“I’ve always been drawn to plants, and I started to learn about their properties and health benefits from a young age,” explains Story.
In 1998, as a trained herbalist, Story founded New Moon Naturals, which sells herbal medicines, teas and elixirs. She sources as much locally as possible, and she collaborates with local partners such as Sharondale Farm, located 12 miles outside of Charlottesville. Sharondale Farm provides mushrooms that Story blends with herbs and spices to create Reishi Mushroom Tea.
While managing New Moon Naturals and conducting herbal health consultations, Story decided that overall diet should have more of an emphasis in her efforts, so she began to focus on the fermentation of foods.
What started as a small venture at farmers’ markets, quickly blossomed into Farmstead Ferments, which took off in 2010. Now, Story provides customers with live and raw, naturallyfermented foods and beverages such as sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled vegetables, water kefir sodas and kombucha cultures, which are created with sustainably-grown, fresh ingredients from local farms.
“Fermented foods are an ancient form of preservation, and they are probiotic and loaded with vitamins and enzymes, which help with your digestion and immunity,” says Story.
Story sources her ingredients from farmers who use techniques such as no or low spray, crop rotation, soil building and other regenerative agricultural practices. “From Madison to Richmond, we work with farms,” explains Story. “Sourcing our ingredients as close to home as possible preserves small family farms, contributes to our region’s food security, reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and creates longlasting and symbiotic relationships with folks we honor and trust.”
Both New Moon Naturals and Farmstead Ferments products are available at a variety of locations such as select Whole Foods stores, farmers’ markets and local grocery stores. They are also available through special orders.