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Story Hill Farm buys sea salt brand for growth

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Henlopen Sea Salt and Story Hill Farms in Frankford

Story Hill Farms in Frankford recently announced the acquisition of Henlopen Sea Salt to its Frankford-based agricultural operation. l PHOTO COURTESY OF STORY HILL FARMS

FRANKFORD Story Hill Farm recently announced an acquisition of oceanic possibilities: Henlopen Sea Salt.

The artisan sea salt company launched in 2015 and was bought by the Frankford-based farm earlier this summer. Story Hill Farm has 70 acres filled with wildflowers and other pollinator-attracting flowers, as well as a herd of cattle, other livestock and agritourism offerings.

Henlopen Sea Salt packaged sea salt derived directly from the Atlantic Ocean, which was then filtered twice before being boiled to a brine and later treated to evaporate the remaining water. The company sold rubs and pure flakes.

“I’m excited to see Henlopen Sea Salt continue its legacy under the guidance of Story Hill Farm,” David Burris, founder of Henlopen Sea Salt, said in a press release. “Their values and commitment to sustainable agriculture and heritage preservation aligns perfectly, and I’m confident that the salt we’ve been producing together will only continue to thrive in their hands.”

Helen Raleigh co-founded Story Hill Farm alongside her husband Steve and Derek Kuebeck. She said they are just as excited to grow the brand after a successful partnership. Story Hill Farm sold Henlopen Sea Salt for two years.

“This was really a good alignment of missions,” Raleigh told the Delaware Business Times. “Dave pretty well maxed out his space in Lewes and we had the big farm here. We have a very collaborative, non-compete attitude and feel like if we have the space and another maker needs space, then, in this case, we felt like it was a good fit. Somewhere along the way, we got completely enamored with the [salt] process. We are excited to be able to create more locally sourced products from the farm.”

The partnership pushed the three Story Hill Farm founders to grow their current operation to include wind-drying capabilities for the salt, as well as other regenerative and sustainable options for the process. Raleigh said it has worked well so far.

“I always say the salt tastes like it was tumbled by a wave at Cape Henlopen,” she told DBT. “We want to honor the land and have practices that are much more in line with renewables and sustainables. That’s why we have wildflowers and heritage cows – we are honoring the land. With the salt, we have the exact same mission only now we can add the ocean as well as land. It’s a neat parallel, coastal farm story. 

“Anything that keeps land as land and now the ocean as ocean is the number one factor for the moment,” Raleigh added. “We’re always looking to add ways to improve and stay economically viable and I think we’ve done that so far.”

The farm has recently grown in other ways, too, including a new pantry section added to their farm store with non-GMO offerings.

“I brought foods in that I like to eat, but I didn’t think people would be interested in it. But all of a sudden, I’ve repurchased the dates six times. Everybody is losing their minds about these dates. I think the difference is they’re fresh,” she said.

Raleigh, a Wilmington native who moved to Sussex County after summers at Cape Henlopen State Park, said the learning curve behind salt production and their growing farm “has been a very deep dive rabbit hole.”

“The point of the big, audacious challenge is that if ordinary people can do extraordinary things, it defies the status quo. There’s really no excuse not to do it. The goals were sort of done from that drive to see what could be done if we turn off the TV and stop yelling at it and get out in the field and work with our hands with whatever’s at our disposal,” she added.

“It’s interesting to me that every time there’s a new spoke of the wheel, we find out that everything is connected – the balance of our health and what we’re eating and even the land and the sea.”

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