By Kate Marlow
Down a quiet road in Bedford, New York, Michael Blakeney labors in his backyard garden. It isn’t like most gardens, though. To start, it’s more than 3,000 square feet. And he grows everything from calendula, an edible orange flower, to alpine strawberries and ancient heirloom beets. He has repurposed old house materials and projects for the fencing and gates to contain his garden. What has emerged is a space that yields more than 50 varieties of fruits, vegetables, and flowers that feed Michael and his partner, Brian Sisco, twelve months of the year.
A former art teacher, Michael finds meaning in the beauty of his garden, but he remains focused on the practical side of what he is doing. For twenty-five years, Michael has been gardening and canning his vegetables and fruit, a tradition that he traces back to his Pennsylvania Dutch roots. In the last two years, however, Michael has found a new way to use materials from his garden: he has developed a garden-based line of personal care products—and all of the ingredients can be found right here in the northeast.
BCKYRD began with Michael making products for family and friends. Brian’s uncle is a beekeeper in New York State, and Michael became interested in putting his beeswax to use. Combined with sunflower oil and calendula, Michael created an all-natural lip balm that left his friends asking for more. Now BCKYRD offers a variety of flavors of lip balm from peppermint to bourbon (yes, that’s right!), a stick lotion, and even an all-natural, deet-free bug spray.
We’ve all heard that we should be able to recognize the ingredients on the labels of packaged food. BCKYRD’s formulations come straight from the garden. The lotions and lip balm are beeswax based with sunflower oil for moisture and calendula for healing. For those of us who work hard to eat local and organic, why not use personal care products that have the same quality ingredients? (Remember, what you put on your skin and lips will make it into your mouth!) You won’t be disappointed with a little more BCKYRD in your life.
Kate Marlow is a former English teacher turned writer. She lives in Greenwich, CT, with her husband, two children, and dachshund named Virgil.