Nancy Bruns, Co-Founder
Nancy’s passion for food began at a young age. Growing up in a large family, her best memories occurred in the kitchen and around the dinner table. Her parents allowed their children to participate in the kitchen, instilling a lifelong passion for cooking. After graduating from Bucknell University, Nancy enrolled at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. It was there that she met her future husband, Carter (now an American historian who has published work on Kanawha salt), and embarked on a career that would explore many facets of cooking. She owned and operated a small restaurant and catering business in Highlands, North Carolina, allowing her to discover the importance of food sourcing and the connection of family farming to a healthy food system. She sold her restaurant in 2008, and has since sought to marry her love of food and deep family heritage with a meaningful business. Reviving her family’s salt enterprise in Malden, West Virginia was the perfect fit. For her, salt is the most essential cooking ingredient, and she particularly loves to experiment with meat and fish curing. She and Carter have 2 children, Lisle and Carter.
Lewis Payne, Co-Founder
Lewis has a passion for the family farm and its deep history. Following graduation from the College of Charleston in South Carolina, he worked on a thoroughbred farm in Lexington, Kentucky. In order to secure a more financially stable career, he pursued another long-standing family tradition — the practice of law. Following his graduation from Ohio Northern University’s Petit College of Law, he practiced law in Lexington for seven years. He then moved back to his hometown of Charleston, West Virginia to become the Vice President of Operations for several land holding companies, and ultimately help revive the family farm and its salt-making practices. Food and cooking have become a passion for him, and something he truly enjoys sharing with his children and with his wife Paige Stith Payne. Paige and Lewis have been married for 16 years and have a son Davis and a daughter Cameron. Paige is an integral part of the salt making venture.
As co-owners of Gaddy Engineering Company, John and Ellen Bullock and Ted Streit are fascinated with the geological history of the Kanawha Valley. They have filled a room with their collection of maps of the region, hand-drawn or screen printed and backed in linen. These century-old maps document the region’s geological history, and inspire Gaddy to participate in the history of the county by resurrecting old family businesses like J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works. Gaddy has provided invaluable insight and engineering for the logistics behind the brine wells, approaching the tasks both sustainably and historically. For them, this farm is where social and geological history come together – the rich history of the Dickinson Family’s impact on the region, and the rare geology of the ancient Iapetus Ocean that formed beneath the Appalachian Mountains. For the Gaddy team, this union breathes life into an important part of Kanawha County’s past.
Our beautiful wooden salt-making tools were made by Stan and Sue Jennings of Allegheny Treenware.. They also make the beautiful cherry cellars and scoops on our shop page.
April Hamilton of April’s Kitchen has been a dear friend and supporter of the revival of our salt endeavor since the beginning. April does amazing work with local farms and school lunch programs, as well as delicious catering. She also writes excellent articles in the Sunday edition of the WV Gazette about remaining in touch with where our food comes from. Sometimes, April even helps us make the salt!
Bluestone Mountain Farm provides our popping corn. It’s an heirloom, hull-less variety and is non-GMO.
Bridge Brew Works makes a salted beer, Iapetus Gose Style, with our salt. Delicious!
Brookestone Soaps makes a variety of salt soaps and mineral infused body butters with our salt and nigari
Cucina Luisa produces amazing roasted marcona almonds with J.Q.D. salt and lavender
Lindera Farms Vinegars Daniel Liberson makes incredible vinegars from foraged ingredients. Some use a ferment that include our salt and are used to flavor the vinegar.
Salazon Chocolate uses our salt in their artisan series of dark chocolate bars.
Stitzinger Stonecraft makes gorgeous salt cellars for us from Greenbrier limestone
ThomasWork master artisan Matt Thomas creates beautiful cellars and boxes for our products.
Vernal Vibe Rise Farm makes delicious sausages from their sustainably raise pork and our salt
Virginia Cocktail Peanuts finishes their line of peanuts with our salt
LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS WE LOVE
WVFARM2U: A Collaborative for 21st Century Appalachia