Got Regional Fibersheds?
Our region is host to a variety of Fibersheds and it can be confusing to know who to contact for fiber help. No worries—I have the skinny on what each Fibershed is working on now.
So, What is a Fibershed exactly?
Check out an earlier post where I introduce the concept of a Fibershed, goals and background. But, a quick answer to what is a Fibershed - it's a Locavore Movement for clothing.
But what’s important to know is that farmers, millers, fiber artists and designers are gathering together to figure out how to bring back the maker spirit in all of us around the US. Their goal is to revitalize local communities to be able to produce regional clothing.
Seems a bit overwhelming to say the least! But I love the perspective given by this quote from Rebecca Burgess, founder of the Fibershed movement.
"Keep asking yourself what you want to see. Even daily, ask yourself what you want to see, because that will turn into a manifested world. The troubles we face are daunting, so it's really important to give yourself time to keep dreaming.” Rebecca Burgess
Another promising aspect to keep in mind is that there’s one important thing Fibersheds have in common…they don’t do it all.
How Does a Fibershed Work?
Each Fibershed typically starts their work in one to three areas of focus such as connecting with farmers, fiber artists, and the public to share information that strengthens the community and empowers creators. Our regional Fibersheds are no different.
Our Northern New England area has three active Fibersheds - Western Massachusetts, Vermont, and the tri-state Northern New England Fibershed (NH, ME, & VT). Each of these Fibersheds are working in different areas to build capacity in the Northern New England States.
What are Fibersheds Focusing on in Our Region?
The Western Massachusetts Fibershed has a secret weapon - Peggy Hart. Peggy weaves local fibers into textiles that can be used as blankets or to create garments. A real treasure, she is keeping weaving machinery alive that has become almost extinct in the area and has worked with sustainably focused designers such as Taylor Johnston of Garmine Workwear. Peggy created textiles that were sewn into stunning garments and put on display by the Fibershed to show the region what is possible with local fiber.
Across the border, the Vermont Fibershed is the educational nonprofit arm of the Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival. They are developing a statewide directory which gives those interested in local fiber a way to find smaller farms that sell yarn and connect with fiber processors to fiber producers.
Vermont Fibershed Directories - Make sure to check out the Directory Categories on the right hand side of any directory page, these categories can help zero in on farms of interest.
Finally, there is the new Northern New England Fibershed (NNEF), an arm of Sanborn Farm in Loudoun, NH. NNEF is looking to find solutions to maintain the fiber farmers we have in the region and enrich farms through regenerative processes that respect the land and animals. NNEF just recently launched and are planning a regional conference in November. Be sure to visit their events page on their website for the announcement of the date and details on registering for the event. And don't worry - I will be adding information to my page as well.
(There are an additional two Fibersheds within the New England states - Connecticut and Southeastern New England. Find a listing of all US affiliated Fibersheds at Fibershed.org.)
How Can We Support This Work?
These Fibersheds want to connect with farmers and fiber enthusiasts. If you have a farm or a fiber talent or just love fiber, reach out and see how you can plug into a project or share your wisdom.
You can meet speakers from several local Fibersheds, as well as other local fiber producers, at my upcoming event "Fibersheds and Community: Building a Community Movement for Local Fiber and Beyond" on Sunday, May 22, from 11 am – 2 pm.
Presented in partnership with Monadnock Food Co-op, Radically Rural and Stonewall Farm, "Fibersheds and Community" will be held in-person in the Grand Room at Stonewall Farm, located at 242 Chesterfield Road in Keene. There will also be an option to tune in virtually for a livestream of the event.
Speakers will include Michelle Parish of Western MA Fibershed, Katie Sullivan of Bobolinks Yarns, Lea Rossignol of Northern New England Fibershed, and Jane Woodhouse of Vermont Fibershed. They will be sharing their visions of sustainable local fiber economies, including examples from local, national, and fibershed movements.
Those interested in attending the event in-person can register here, tinyurl.com/yn46pt8n
For those interested in the virtual livestream option they can register here, tinyurl.com/8yhfy3xz.
You can also get in touch directly for more information by contacting me, Mary Ewell, or Megan Lafaso Hercher.
In addition to learning more about Fibersheds, support the local clothing movement through small but meaningful everyday actions like mending clothes instead of tossing them, opting to buy second-hand, and investing in clothes produced with local fiber to enhance your wardrobe. Find more about these ideas on my blog.
It’s a learning process for us all, which is the main reason I decided to launch my Locally Dressed challenge of 365 days wearing nothing but local. So let’s keep learning together. And let's build community around fiber production and beyond!