Photos provided by The Farmer’s Touch
Bethann Bruno never planned to start a business. In fact, when the Saugerties native began experimenting with making all-natural cleaners at home in 2010, she did so out of necessity, not entrepreneurialism. You see, Bruno was looking for ways to cope with her recently diagnosed progressive multiple sclerosis.
“The doctors told me to get rid of any products with chemicals in my home,” she recalls. “That was when I began making all my own chemical-free household cleansers and reusable dryer sheets, my own personal care products, and more.”
Bruno, who has always had a passion for creating things, channeled her love of nature and agriculture in her alternative remedies, opting to forgo chemical additives in favor of naturally occurring ingredients. While she soon found success with the products for her personal use, it wasn’t until 2018 that she began to seriously consider turning her creations into a foundation for her business. At the time, she was managing a local farm when she met Cheryl White Goyette, who was a beekeeper there. The two immediately connected, and soon began to brainstorm ways to turn Bruno’s passion project into a tangible enterprise.
“Cheryl and I make a very strong team,” Bruno enthuses. “She helps me bring my creations to life.”
Bruno and Goyette
To test the waters, she began by renting out a small space at the farm to sell her wares, which she christened “The Farmer’s Touch.” To set them apart from commercial mainstays, Bruno grew as many ingredients as possible by herself, sourced additional ingredients locally, and made everything by hand. True to their name, The Farmer’s Touch products were all-natural and all Hudson Valley. Unsurprisingly, locals loved them.
“[They] immediately took off,” she says, adding that the community appreciated the fact that the wares were not only vegan, cruelty free, chemical free, and handmade, but also that they were affordable alternatives that genuinely worked. Six months later, The Farmer’s Touch has expanded to locations throughout the Hudson Valley and on Etsy. This month, Bruno and Goyette took the plunge and opened a dedicated, eponymous storefront on Main Street in New Paltz.
“It is a space large enough for us to offer half-price refills on all of our chemical free cleaners, detergents, and reusable dryer sheets,” she explains. Keeping in mind the eco-friendly motivations behind the brand, the duo offers a discount for visitors who return product jars, which are then sterilized and reused.
In addition to retailing its own products, The Farmer’s Touch serves as something of a makerspace for the women of the Hudson Valley. The shop stocks everything from beautiful boards by Love Wood and knits by Barley & Flax to vintage goods from Turquoise Americana to jewelry from A New Breath by Amanda Krom. Keeping in mind the notion of alternative home care and personal products, the shop also stocks CBD infused items from Mr. Birdsall’s Wonder Elixirs. Made by Hudson Valley native Chris Birdsall, Mr. Birdsall’s even has a few products that are a signature to the store. Belle Terre, for instance, is a completely vegan, chemical and cruelty free, all-natural makeup line.
“I created it using 100-percent organic vegetables, fruits, and powders,” Bruno says.
While the shop itself is still new, Bruno and Goyette already have big plans for 2019. Bruno’s New York Spicy Mary mix will show its stuff in the 2019 Bloody Mary Festival in April. On top of that, A Farmer’s Touch products have already been featured in a number of prominent monthly subscription boxes (the lotion is in the March Earthlove Box, while the foot cream is in the March TheraBox and the March Oh Baby Box), with plans for a collaboration with a large local retailer to come soon. Down the road, Bruno envisions a farm extension of the brand that will provide jobs to the local community and a direct source for the brand’s ingredients.
Until then, Bruno and Goyette are content to share their passion for clean body and home care with the Hudson Valley community.
“We both take the time to engage with our customers and community and love helping people whenever we can.”
215 Main St, New Paltz