Tata Harper’s perfect weekend in Vermont

The natural-beauty pioneer led the global “farm-to-face” movement with her much-lauded skincare brand that eschews synthetic ingredients

Tata Harper at Branbury Park
Tata Harper at Branbury Park | Image: Alexi Hobbs

“Vermont, where we spend our weekends, is like the Switzerland of the US: full of lakes and mountains. It’s where organic farming began out east and is famously liberal; I love the vibe. We have an old colonial house, built in 1802, on a 1,200-acre farm where we grow many of the organic ingredients for my skincare products; the factory is in the grounds. 

On Saturday I wake up and drink celery juice to flush out my system. The kids are up soon after – Hunter is 10, Grace Paloma is nine and Tata Mia is seven. Tata is a term of affection in Spanish – I’m from Colombia and my real name is Graciella, but no one uses it. We have pancakes with maple syrup from our orchard. A beekeeper keeps his hives on the farm, too, so we always have honey. 

After breakfast, we go to say hello to the animals. We have two mischievous goats, as well as chickens, sheep, two rescue horses, a big herd of Scottish highlander cattle and 12 dogs – it’s like a petting zoo. I’ll then drive to Middlebury, our local town, to do a class at Otter Creek Yoga with the children, which they love. We then hit the Middlebury Co-Op; it’s like a community centre where farmers sell their produce and the kids see their friends. I pick up mushrooms and anything grown locally – my family is big on vegetables. 

Lunch is at American Flatbread, a cute place with gingham tablecloths, where we share the garlic-rosemary white-bean dip and the Punctuated Equilibrium flatbread with caramelised vegetables – it’s tart and sweet. For dessert: a brownie sundae. I have a very sweet tooth. 

Then we’ll drive to Branbury Park, which has a manmade beach by the lake. We rent a boat or kayak, and read under a tree for the afternoon, only packing up at 5pm to go to Lincoln Peak Vineyard for live music, which gets the children dancing. I have a glass of its Black Sparrow white wine, which is quite dry. Vermont wine is a new thing in the past 10 years; it’s not Napa quality but it’s fun. 

Advertisement

Back home, I leave the kids and may take my guests to Black Sheep Bistro – a very small, almost speakeasy-style restaurant with pictures all over the walls. We order crab cakes from Maine and escargots. The menu changes all the time, but a delicious mainstay is the Thai‑poached haddock with almonds. 

I get home around 11pm and the kids might still be up; it’s the Spanish in them. I take a bath, as I do every night with arnica salts, which help my muscles relax, and I solve so much in my head. When people say “sleep on it”, I say “let me bathe on it”. 

On Sunday, we head to Halfway House for brunch. It’s a traditional diner – real Vermont, not artisanal Vermont – and Cora, who owns it, has been there forever. Then we hike up Snake Mountain for amazing views of the valley. Tomgirl Juice in Burlington is a favourite stop afterwards – I have greens and ginger; the kids have rose-maple lemonade. We’ll sometimes walk to Barge Canal Market, which is full of antiques. I bought a Moroccan rug there that looks like tiger stripes.

In the early evening, we’ll have dinner at Starry Night Café, a family restaurant in an old cider mill in Ferrisburg. I order the curry carrot salad with chickpeas. Then it’s home for bed by 10pm. After my bath, I sleep deeply; we’ll be getting up at 6am to drive the four hours back to Connecticut.”

Advertisement

See also

Advertisement
Loading