A bit off the beaten path but well worth the visit, Sanborn Mills Farm is home to the Northern New England Fibershed and a beautiful oasis for fiber arts training.
I visited Sanborn Mills Farm last week with a member of the Western Massachusetts Fibershed. Peggy, a weaver and instructor, came to discuss the potential of offering weaving instruction at the farm. I went to see where the tri-state Fibershed is housed and learn what the Farm has to offer participants and visitors alike. The venue didn't disappoint.
While still under construction, it is a working farm with beautiful gardens that supply raw materials for courses taught there (indigo and willow), CSA vegetables, and planned gardens filled with flowers. As we walked to the buildings, we caught the scent of peonies in full and wondrous bloom.
Fiber Arts Teaching Room
Inside, we saw a soon-to-be-completed teaching room with a staircase made of wood that was gathered from the local land, cut in the saw mill right on the grounds, and made into a stunning focal point. All that is lacking—arm rails, which you can spot behind the staircase. I also noticed traditional, walking spinning wheels. Lea, the director of NNE Fibershed, said they do courses with these. I need to master the basic one first!
We walked from this room to the cafeteria, dorm rooms, and through a second-story breezeway to take in the view. While still building out gardens, the brick oven is completed.
We also got a chance to visit a class on natural dyeing and color selection. Classes can vary in length; overnight stays and food are available to participants. Mary Zicafoose a tapestry artist from Nebraska, took a minute to speak with Peggy about the goals of the course.
More than Fiber Arts at the Farm
We then toured the traditional granary (parts of the wheel shown below), viewed the water run sawmill, had lunch, and said good-bye to Lea. What a wonderful day to see the farm and learn about what they have to offer and are planning.
We got a peek at where the NNE Fibershed Conference that will be held in November 12, 2022. Save the date to get together with local fiber enthusiasts and learn more about how to support and work with local Fibersheds!