Dreaming of a Small Fashion Farm

Devon Farm by Craig Cameron on Unsplash.

On a month-long European journey supported by a Churchill Fellowship, Director Zoe Gilbertson researched small scale, bioregional textile processing and the collaborative governance and finance needed to support such initiatives. Zoe met a wide range of people from farmers, to designers, academics, entrepreneurs and co-operatives, all who share a similar vision of the future that Zoe writes about here. Please get in touch if you also share this dream:

I have a dream to start a small fashion farm. The dream sees organic flax to make linen grown in rotation with heritage wheat, grains and pulses. Wool will be hand sheared from sweet natured Dorset Down sheep, regeneratively grazing in rotation on pasture and woodland. Nettles from the fringes will be harvested to create an experimental yarn. Mulberry Trees will be planted to give additional nutrients to grazing sheep but mainly to produce silk through feeding tiny silkworms. People will flock to the farm to learn about soil-to-soil systems and ancient artisanal skills, assisted with considered technology such as 3D printed spinning wheels and cycle powered machines. Eyes would be opened wide to the time, energy and extensive knowledge needed to make local, natural clothing through methods of processing, spinning and weaving cloth. Idyllic and educational it will lay bare the realities of making nature-centric clothing.

A locally based food and fibre system will provide security against the increasing risk of global systems collapse. It will keep us safe, repair our soils and our souls. This slow and deliberate nature of production will prevent the excesses of consumption and the unhealthy thoughts and feelings that fashion can bring. The fashion farm is an adaptive process in which participants prepare for a more resilient society without jeopardising the needs of life’s future generations. It will coexist within a bioregional, relational ecosystem of small-scale, land related activities supporting regenerative livelihoods.

The steps towards creating UK textile sufficiency require rethinking and dismantling many different capitalist systems. It will require new relationships to land and figuring out innovative systems of exchange and finance. A future fashion farm could help establish a dynamic clothing commons; creating products locally but sharing knowledge digitally so that similar localities can adapt and evolve process, plans and technique. It will require collective endeavour and enterprise. Building a shared culture around what it means to grow, own and wear clothing produced locally will help us consider more deeply what we want our clothing to reflect. Situated within a bioregion populated by a multitude of small-scale nested ecosystems that grow food and create useful materials alongside textile fibres the fashion farm will require integration into wider production systems and seasons. It will require learning to be we not I.”

Read the full article here: https://liflad.substack.com/p/dreaming-of-a-small-fashion-farm

Image: Devon Farm by Craig Cameron on Unsplash.

By Zoe Gilbertson

Zoe is CEO and co-founder of Liflad.