The Natural Fibre Company
A scheme for organic sheep farmers to make more money using
traditional methods to spin wool is being launched next month
by a new company in Cornwall.
Cornish Organic Wool works with farmers to turn a fleece
worth 50p into knitting wool that, after processing, can sell
for much more. Currently farmers send their fleeces to the
Wool Marketing Board at a loss because a sheep costs at least
70p to shear. But Julia and Matt Hopson, the Penzance-based
founders of Cornish Organic Wool are reviving the local spinning
of organic wool. The widespread home-based hand-spinning industry
effectively died in Cornwall with the invention of James Hargreaves'
spinning jenny around 1760 and the traditional industry moved
mainly to Yorkshire.
They are working with Sue Blacker who with the help of Objective
One European funding six months ago started production at
The Natural Fibre Company, a fully organically accredited
traditional wool mill at Launceston. Sue organises the yarn
spinning while Julia Hopson has designed kits that use the
organic wool, for anything from handbags, to traditional knitwear
like ganseys and hats.
Their project, which is backed by the local MP Andrew George
and various local agencies, will be launched at Kingsley Village
off the A30 at Fraddon on 3 August.
Not every sheep fleece is suitable for turning into knitting
wool or weaving into fabric. Some breeds are more suitable
than others and a flock needs careful husbandry so that sheep
are sheared at the right time and in the best possible condition.
Another stumbling block is the word organic as some farmers
although not officially authenticated as organic by the Soil
Association think their sheep qualify just because they don't
use chemical fertilisers or feed.
"Once the word is out that you are looking for
wool to spin everybody thinks their fleeces will qualify,
but what we need is farmers with large flocks and a universally-recognised
accreditation," says Hopson. "Wool has
become a by-product of the farmer's main interest –
meat. It may mean making changes to some farming practices
and paying more attention to detail at shearing, but the farmers
we've so far worked with are delighted with the results.
Keeping things local and adding value in Cornwall means Cornish
Organic Wool can pay farmers more in the future. The wool
we are producing now is as pure as that spun here over 300
years ago and thanks to the Internet we can tell the world
that Cornish wool is back."
For further information please contact Sue Blacker of the
Natural Fibre Company on 01736 367069.
The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the
Isles of Scilly has invested in the Natural Fibre Company
and Kingsley Village through the European Agricultural Guidance
and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).
Anyone considering a new horticulture, food and
land based industries project is advised to speak with Martin
Butler at Government Office South West on 01752 635134 before
commencing development as there are now only limited funds
available due to the successful uptake of funding by the agricultural
sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Please see The Natural Fibre Company website at: www.thenaturalfibre.co.uk
Please see Cornish Organic Wool's website at: www.cornishwool.co.uk
Please see Kingsley Village website at: www.kingsleyvillage.com
For further information, please telephone:
Mat and Julia Hopson, Cornish Organic Wool on 01736 367069
or 07976 153204
Sue Blacker, The Natural Fibre Company on 01566 777635 or
John Marshall, Kingsley Village on 01726 861111
The Natural Fibre Company specialises in
adding value to rare and British breed fibres, including wool,
mohair and alpaca. Wool is amongst the most pure and "green"
natural fibres and we are pleased to be working with Cornish
Organic Wool to help develop the market for high quality and
truly sustainable products from Cornwall.
Kingsley Village is pleased to support the
Cornish Organic Wool launch and their products will compliment
the range and quality of what we offer on our extensive Cornish
Craft section. The value added to the primary producers fits
well with our ethos and approach to promoting Cornish products.
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439