Indigo

For approximately 5,000 years, communities have been honing their skills to farm, extract and apply this plant based blue pigment. By working with a temperate climate indigo variety, we are able to grow upon these ancient traditions in our home region of Northern California. Our current research focuses on analyzing Polygonum tinctorium’s appropriate economic and cultural position within an integrated perennial and annual food & dye system; we are honing a place-based understanding of the crop within the constraints and opportunities posed by California agriculture. (Photos by Paige Green)

photo by Paige Green

Citizen Science Soil Sampling Protocol

The Citizen Science Soil Sampling Protocol provides our grass roots producer community in Northern California a protocol for testing their soils for total organic carbon (and other key elements) to support a clear understanding of how much carbon is currently in their soils. Once a baseline quantity is understood, land-mangers will have an opportunity to map increases (or losses) in soil carbon over time, based upon their management. This work to test soils with an open source methodology is a foundation for determining the Climate Beneficial status of the raw materials grown on our local farms and ranches. This project ties into our work to help our producer community receive Carbon Farm Plans and early stage funding to implement soil building, climate change ameliorating, land-management practices. (Photos by Paige Green)

landscape photo by Paige Green

Hemp Research

Our hemp research is currently focused in Eastern Kentucky and South Central Colorado, in regions where agrarianism is still the foundation of community life.  Our interest in this crop is founded upon both the plant’s textile characteristics, including, tensile strength, sheen, and antimicrobial properties, and also its ecological attributes, beginning with the fact that it does not require herbicides and pesticides. The quantity of uses for the plant in its entirety are still being discovered and economic models for the best combination of value-addition are being developed, as hemp is slowly being re-introduced to American agriculture after a 60-plus-year hiatus. (Photos by Donnie Hedden, left, and Meg Wilson Photography, below)

hemp decortication, photo by Meg Wilson Photography

Grow Your Jeans

Denim originated in Nimes, France as a place-based fabric that served our iconic American blue jeans through the 19th Century. In 2015, Fibershed celebrated the launch of a revisionist prototype of locally grown & sewn denim jeans, beginning with non-gmo organic cotton grown in the Capay Valley, spun in the USA, dyed blue with Northern California grown and processed Polygonum tinctorium indigo, hand woven in San Francisco, and professionally patterned and sewn in Alameda. A true collaboration made possible by talented teams of Farm and Artisan Producers, Grow Your Jeans represents a divestment from fossil fuels and a move toward ‘fresh carbon’ clothing. (Photos by Paige Green)

weaving the denim, photo by Paige Green

Backyard Project

In 2014, Fibershed collaborated with The North Face to launch the “Backyard Project” hoodie, one of the first bioregional garment projects by a brand (of this size), since the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) took effect. The project aligned with the ethos of working with what you have in your own backyard, and in this case, creating as much of this garment within 150 miles of the brand’s corporate headquarters as was possible. The hoodie is both a garment and an outstanding example of how a small, low risk micro-line could amplify the social impact of the brand while supporting the economy of local and ecologically conscious family farms. The project directly supported our local agricultural communities, and made every effort to bring manufacturing home from overseas. (Photos by Paige Green)

organic cotton from Viriditas Farm, photo by Paige Green