Fibershed: A new “farm-to-closet” vision for the clothes we wear–by a leader in the movement for local textile economies
There is a major disconnect between what we wear and our knowledge of its impact on land, air, water, labor, and human health. Many value access to safe, local, nutritious food. However, they have largely overlooked the production of fiber, dyes, and the chemistry that forms the backbone of modern textile production. Humans are 100 percent reliant on their second skin. However, it’s common to think little about the biological and human cultural context from which our clothing derives.
Background on Rebecca Burgess
Almost a decade ago, weaver and natural dyer Rebecca Burgess developed a project. She focused on wearing clothing made from fiber grown, woven, and sewn within her bio-region of North Central California. So she began to network with ranchers, farmers, and artisans. Rebecca discovered that even in her home community there was ample raw material being grown to support a new regional textile economy. Such an economy had deep roots in climate change prevention and soil restoration. So a vision for the future came into focus. Could they combine right livelihoods and a textile system based on economic justice and soil carbon enhancing practices? Burgess saw that we could create viable supply chains of clothing that could become the new standard in a world looking to solve the climate crisis.
In Fibershed readers will learn how natural plant dyes and fibers such as wool, cotton, hemp, and flax can be grown and processed as part of a scalable, restorative agricultural system. They will learn about milling. In addition, they will learn about other technical systems needed to make regional textile production possible. Therefore, Fibershed is a resource not only for fiber farmers, ranchers, and contract grazers. However, it is also a resource for weavers, knitters, slow-fashion entrepreneurs, soil activists, and conscious consumers. Their desire to join or create their own fibershed links them. Similarly, they want to topple outdated and toxic systems of exploitation.
Rebecca Burgess created a new awareness of the fiber and textile resources in her Fibershed–the 150 mile radius from her doorstep in San Geronimo, California with her 2011 book: Harvesting Color. Within this circular boundary, she discovered a resilient group of fiber growers, dye plants, textile processing and a wealth of wisdom from artists, factories and ranchers. Her journey inspired the creation of over 50 regional Fibershed affiliates worldwide. We are happy to be able to offer the next chapter in her work in regional fiber advocacy. Rebecca’s fierce determination to use regional resources to combat global warming is inspiring.