Save the Soil with Farm to Fashion: Central Grazing Company (Really Cute Handbags!)

Yes, we know that leather is an animal byproduct, and the whole tanning process is not a pretty one. So why do we support leather companies like our friends at Farrier and now Central Grazing Company?

lady-farmer-regenerative-leather

Because the leather we support is sourced from regenerative cattle (and sheep!) farming, which like fiber farming (wool, hemp, flax, organic cotton, etc..) has the potential to heal our soils and change our world. Literally.

Recent reports are claiming that there are an average of 60 harvests left on the earth if soil degradation continues. Agriculture remains one of the top contributors to soil loss and increased atmospheric carbon. In order to stop the rapid loss of our soil and sequester carbon, change must take place on all levels, from lawmakers to farmers, brands, investors, consumers and innovative entrepreneurs.

That’s why we’re excited to tell you about Jacqueline Smith, the founder of Central Grazing Company, a women-led, regenerative food and fiber business committed to farming methods that actually build vital soil!

Jacqueline and her team are pioneers in the regenerative agricultural movement and are committed to changing the way we approach food and fiber products. She has designed a program that pays farmers premiums for high animal welfare and ecological standards. This gives farmers incentives to farm in ways that build soil, help balance the carbon cycle and gives animals peaceful, calm and natural lives.

Over the past few years, Jacqueline has been working to create a new farm-to-fashion leather line that comes from her certified Animal Welfare Approved sheep raised in the Midwest. Not only that, she has them tanned and manufactured in the U.S. Because of her closed-loop production process, her leather collection is 100% traceable. How incredible is that?

She is raising funds to launch her new consciously made leather line, and we’re so excited they’ve almost reached their goal! Let’s help them surpass it… You can see her Kickstarter campaign here.

Ethical leather is changing the clothing industry. By purchasing, gifting, supporting or promoting CGC’s full range of leather pieces, you, too, can help grow the climate-benefiting fashion revolution.

Jacqueline’s campaign will be running until June 10th. Every little bit helps. There are all kinds of rewards including deeply reduced prices on her amazing leather pieces! Sign up here for her newsletter for more details.

Also, if you would like to review their leather products, learn more about their process or simply to share this feel-good story, please reach out to Jacqueline@centralgrazingco.com. She’d welcome your feedback and, of course, appreciate your helping to spread the word! We found this FAQ page really helpful and informative…check it out! 

Happy revolution-ing!

Love,

Emma & Mary

lady-farmer-regenerative-leather

Fashion Revolution Week 2108

Fashion Revolution Week 2108

Lady Farmer wants YOU to join the Fashion Revolution!

It’s been five years now since the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 24th,2013. Over 1,000 workers died and another 2,500 were injured when the eight-story building, known to be unstable, came crashing down on employees that were sent to work in spite of a large crack that had been identified in the walls. Now known as the worst disaster in the history of fashion, the event opened the world’s eyes to the grim realities of the apparel industry. Though blame might have been largely placed on local standards and regulations, most Americans had only to look in their closets to recognize our country’s complicity in the tragedy, as many major north American brands were made at Rana Plaza, including J.C. Penny, Walmart, North Face and Benetton.

Each anniversary is now highlighted by a global awareness campaign known as “Fashion Revolution Week,”during which consumers worldwide are encouraged to ask the brands #whomademyclothes? It’s an easy but powerful step on the part of the masses that have allowed the fast fashion machine to become a reality such as Rana Plaza, a simple exercise in consciousness and inquiry.

We ask of ourselves and the brands who make our clothes:

  • Whose hands measured and cut the cloth, sewed the pieces together just so and added the buttons or trim that caught our eye in the first place? Most likely it was a woman.
  • Is she a mother?
  • Where is her child while she’s at work?
  • How far does she have to travel to the factory every day?
  • Does she make enough to live in clean and safe housing and to provide her household with food?

These are simple and reasonable questions. In asking them, we’re not trying to move all of apparel production out of these countries and shut down her job. We’re not trying to take away her only means of income. But we do want to make it clear to these large companies that their lack of transparency in the supply chain will not work anymore. Consumers all over the world are making their buying decisions based not on price and quantity, but integrity of materials and production. In doing so, producers will have to comply with the demands of an increasingly discerning public and make the changes necessary to prevent the Rana Plaza incidents of the future.

Want to be part of the Fashion Revolution? It’s easy. All you have to do is ask #whomademyclothes?

lady farmer on the runway

The Lady Farmer Essential Collection Line on the runway! Made in the USA using fair trade practices and of materials that are natural and biodegradable, the Lady Farmer Essential Collection is our own project in manufacturing in a way we feel good about.

How To Have A Simplified, Sustainable Closet

How To Have A Simplified, Sustainable Closet

Ethical Sustainable Closet

As with so many things in our industrialized world, we have a problem with excess clothing. Most of us have way more than we actually wear. This isn’t just an issue in our homes, it’s a problem for the whole planet. Americans discard an average of 80 lbs of textile waste a year. What doesn’t end up in the landfill is often “donated” and shipped to other countries where it overwhelms local systems and disrupts local economies by removing demand for domestic products. As well-intentioned as we might be in wanting to pass along our rejects “to someone who can use it,” the truth is that in many cases we are sending our waste to be a problem somewhere else.

Where does that leave us in terms of trying to simplify our own lives and spaces?

Slow Fashion and a Sustainable Closet

Here are some suggestions for addressing clothing clutter and passing things along in a less wasteful way.

  • Refrain from buying anything new for a season and see how it feels. Do you find yourself lacking in things to wear, or do you find yourself using things you already have in ways you might not have before?
  • If some items have been hanging in your closet unworn through a full cycle of seasons, box them up, write the date on it, tape it shut and put it out of sight. It’s most likely that you won’t wear it again, but if you find yourself thinking “Well, maybe when I lose weight… or go on a cruise… or get an invitation to the inaugural ball…” and so on, ask yourself this– is it worth the aggravation of having it in the way and taking up your limited space until those things occur? If in one year you haven’t missed any of those things, get rid of it without opening the box. 
  • To move things out of your house, donate them as locally as possible. For instance, local church rummage sales and thrift stores are more likely to be visited by people in your area who can actually benefit from the clothing you no longer need and keep them out of developing countries or the landfill.
  • Shop at second hand and consignment stores to keep existing clothes in use longer. You will be saving money and keeping your dollars out of the fast fashion sector.
  • When you do decide to buy a new item of clothing, consider sustainable fashion brands that can account for responsible sourcing and manufacturing. You will likely be spending more per item, but this is an opportunity to evaluate the significance of cost. What does it actually mean when we say something is a good price? In terms of slow fashion, asking this question can give us a new perspective. In making this shift in your awareness and subsequently in your buying habits, you will be using your purchasing power to help establish a new consumer paradigm!

Slow Fashion + Conscious Clothing Brands

Our Quest To Create The Perfect Pant: Pomona

Our Quest To Create The Perfect Pant: Pomona

We have a feeling that the quest for the perfect pant is a universal thing. Why? Maybe because it doesn’t actually exist…it’s an ideal we all chase after to no avail…or that it is simply a matter of fact that the “perfect pant” means something different to literally every single person. Which is why, as we set ourselves to the task of creating a Lady Farmer pant for the Essential Collection line, we ran into roadblock after roadblock until we came up with something that we hadn’t actually seen before. Without trying to claim we invented it, we’ll just say that the pant closure we came up with (non-elastic, no zipper/plastic, yet adjustable AND fitted…) seems new at least to us. It’s a tie and a button for full adjustability, but not too much to maneuver.

Pomona-Organic-Cotton-Hemp-Blend-Pant-by-Lady-Farmer

Biodegradable Fashion-Forward

Pomona was the Roman goddess of fruiting trees and plants.
Because one of our goals is for our garments to be completely biodegradable, we wanted to create a pant without any elastics or other synthetics that would never break down. These pants have an inner adjustable tie that’s both practical and flattering, plus they are super comfortable and you can wear them for any occasion.

Pomona-Organic-Cotton-Hemp-Pants-Eco-Friendly-Style-by-Lady-Farmer

Like all of our clothes, they could literally be returned to the earth to nurture the soil when their useful life is over. But that won’t be for a really long time because they’re made of a hemp/organic cotton blend that lasts and lasts!

Pomona-Pant-Biodegradable-Fashion-by-Lady-Farmer

The Pomona pants are made from a hemp/organic cotton blend. They are pre-shrunk/machine washable. Available in non-stripe charcoal and pinstripe. Currently in production, sign up here to be the first to know when they become available to order in our shop

The Demeter Tunic

The Demeter Tunic

sustainable-apparel-tunic

photo by Amber Breitenberg (@alittleterroir)

As a sustainable apparel company, we’re looking to create pieces that are both functional/practical and something we feel good in. Part of sustainable wardrobe  is making sure your clothes can actually work for you! The Demeter Tunic is the queen of practicality. With four GIANT pockets and an oversized shirt/tunic feel, she can work as anything from a painting smock to a stylish summer picnic piece. Here she is modeled by Rebecca of A Daily Something

photo by Amber Breitenberg (@alittleterroir)

Demeter is the first garment we created, named for the Greek goddess of agriculture, Mother Earth, the ultimate Lady Farmer! She fed the world abundantly and humankind thrived with her bounty. Designed for functionality, our all- purpose tunic is inspired by this powerful feminine energy, with its classic lines and sound construction. Mid-weight, roomy, with ¾ length sleeves with wide deep pockets in front and back that hold anything. Great for on-the-job gardening, painting, photography, foraging…whatever it is you love to do! It can be worn as a top with leggings or as a dress for those who like the shorter style.

The fabric that we originally used to sample this piece was a hemp/organic cotton blend, but we have since been  unable to source that same fabric in the quantities that we need. (We need to be growing hemp in the USA so that we can use this amazing fabric!) Instead, we’re using an equally luscious organic linen/cotton blend that we are so excited excited about! We’re currently in production on these garments (hooray if you were a Kickstarter backer!) and will be building up an inventory as well, ready to ship in late April 2018. Make sure you’re on our mailing list to be the first to know!

photo by Amber Breitenberg (@alittleterroir)

 

St. Brigit the Lady Farmer (and Inspiration for our Sustainable Overalls!)

St. Brigit the Lady Farmer (and Inspiration for our Sustainable Overalls!)

This post was originally published on February 1st, The Feast of St. Brigit, 2017. Since then we have designed, developed, and put into production a lovely pair of sustainable hemp/organic cotton overalls aptly named “Brigit” in honor of the this legendary Lady Farmer.  

As Lady Farmers, we want to pay homage to our predecessors, the women figures from history, myth and legend who embodied a powerful connection to the earth. As archetypes these personifications of the feminine are capable and independent, deeply nurturing, infinitely creative and fierce champions of nature and her cycles.

So it is with Brigit (also spelled Brigid or Bridget).  It is said she was born on February 1st, the Celtic Festival of Imbolc celebrating the cross-quarter day between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Legend has it that her birth took place over a threshold. Fittingly, she became the patroness of transitions, literally from winter to spring, and symbolically in many aspects of nature, life and the human experience. She presides over the birth of the new lambs (the word Imbolc means “first milk”) and represents fire and light as the sun makes its return.  She is seen as the protector of the home and keeper of the fire. She tends the hearth, preserving the eternal flame. She is patroness of healing, cooking, the arts (particularly poetry and weaving), animal husbandry, midwifery–and beer making! She is thoroughly and completely a woman’s goddess, and given the wealth of evidence we feel confident in claiming her as patroness of Lady Farmer.

I am inspired by Brigit in so many ways here on our small patch of earth, as folklore tells us she presides over almost every one of our daily tasks. I think of her on these cold mornings as I get the kitchen fire going and go out to tend the animals. She inspires me in my cooking and gardening, my exploration of culinary and medicinal herbs and fermented foods, as a weaver of ideas and words in my writing and as a weaver of earth friendly materials into healthy and sustainable garments for Lady Farmer. In keeping with an ancient Celtic custom, on February 1st, I will place a square of cloth representing Brigit’s mantle outside my door to catch the morning dew of Imbolc. Thus the cloth becomes a token of her blessings and protection on our household throughout the next year.

Here is a prayer to St. Brigit, a women’s Goddess and Saint. When in chaos and darkness, may we take comfort in the return of the light, the promise of spring!

Saint Brigid Hearth Keeper Prayer

Brigid of the Mantle, encompass us,

Lady of the Lambs, protect us,

Keeper of the Hearth, kindle us.

Beneath your mantle, gather us,

And restore us to memory.

Mothers of our mother, Foremothers strong.

Guide our hands in yours,

Remind us how to kindle the hearth.

To keep it bright, to preserve the flame.

Your hands upon ours, Our hands within yours,

To kindle the light, Both day and night.

The Mantle of Brigid about us,

The Memory of Brigid within us,

The Protection of Brigid keeping us

From harm, from ignorance, from heartlessness.

This day and night,

From dawn till dark, From dark till dawn.

(prayer Courtesy of SaintBrigids.org)

Home Stretch!

Home Stretch!

There’s word of a frost tonight, the first of the season. It’s mid- October so this should be no surprise, but we’ve been in such a warm stretch it feels like it snuck up. I was out in the garden just before sunset and saw all the things that are still there– fresh herbs, sweet potatoes, sweet peppers and green tomatoes, lots and lots of beautiful zinnia and dahlia blooms, lovely fragrant tansy, lemon verbena and pineapple sage. Of course they won’t all disappear overnight but there is so much I still want to do before it’s all gone, like drying out the herbs for cooking and for tea, making fried green tomatoes and apple pie and using the flower blooms to dye something before the color fades.

I think, though, that this fall I will have to let some of that go. Sometimes other things are calling, and in the last few weeks it’s the exciting momentum Lady Farmer that has our attention! This season of our Kickstarter campaign has brought us not only a quickly funded goal (100% in 100 hours!) but the pure pleasure of seeing how our project has reached out and created meaningful connections and authentic community. Even through dark days of heartbreak in these recent weeks, some wrought by nature and others by human hands, the light that shines on our power of choice is hope itself. Each of us can choose a better way,  especially in our decisions about our food and clothing and how we live with respect for each other and for our planet–and that is where we will see change for the good.


A Daily Something’s Rebecca Gallop in our Demeter Tunic. Photo by Amber Breitenberg

In reaching our initial crowdfunding goal, we’ve raised the funds to manufacture the “Essential Collection,” our first line of sustainably sourced and produced “farm-to-closet” clothing. From our launch party in downtown DC to various events in Virginia and Maryland this month, people have affirmed that they want and will support a clothing choice outside of the toxic and inhumane system that dominates the industry today. That’s why we set a “stretch” goal for the remaining twenty-six days of our Kickstarter. If that goal is met by the close of the campaign on October 28th, we commit to stretching ourselves into even more information sharing and community building in at least two ways–we will develop  a Lady Farmer Podcast by summer of 2018 and will also announce plans for a Slow Living Conference for 2019.

A lot has happened this month and is STILL HAPPENING!  I guess no matter how much is accomplished, however, we must always leave a season with some things undone, because try as we might we will never get it all done. As frustrating as that sounds it’s actually a blessing. Those desires and ideas propel us through our days with vision and purpose. Call it the creative edge, the energy of expansion, that part of our human nature that’s always reaching for something better, all the time.

If you haven’t already, there’s still time to go to our Kickstarter page and be a part of this awesome community of changemakers. Hope you’ll join us in the stretch!

With love and gratitude,

Mary and Emma

Find our Kickstarter here! http://kck.st/2xIcaWq

Shifting Seasons

Shifting Seasons

“The backbone of summer is broken”. That’s what my grandmother would say on days like these when the light is sharp and shimmery and you find yourself having to talk over the bug sounds in the late afternoon and then when the sun goes down you wish you had a sweatshirt.  It captures the melancholy of another season’s passing but belies the vibrant life in the lush, unruly growth of flora and foliage surging in these shortening days. It’s lost all discipline, this garden-gone-wild, with the dahlias and zinnias and marigolds all shouting it out, their colors almost raucous, the weight of the tomatoes pulling down their own stakes and overtaking everything around them, the morning glory vines outrunning the beans. But that’s okay, we’re past the struggle of a tidy garden, at least for this year. All I want to do is be outside worshipping on this altar of light and color and sound, this magical atmosphere of late summer. But there’s work to be done in the harvest and preparation for what’s to come.

We’re transitioning into a new season at Lady Farmer as well. It’s been a year of growing an idea, bringing a vision into form and little by little letting our creation out into the world. We planted the seeds of intention to heal something that’s very broken in the world and watched them sprout and grow and they are now flowering in so many ways! We have launched our company, developed our mission and purpose and have created a line of clothing that reflects everything we are about. Our year has brought us so much beauty, inspiration and connection to people and projects that has both sharpened our focus and broadened our community of passionate creators. And as the season of design and development shifts to this next phase of full production, we feel full, inspired and hopeful.

We are now a month away from the official beginning of our fundraising season, our goal being able to manufacture our Essential Collection line of sustainable clothing, due in our online store in spring of 2018. Get a sneak peak at our lookbook by clicking here and get full details on our upcoming Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign by making sure you’re subscribed to our email list and following along our social media channels.

If you would like to see this project thriving in the world, providing an ethical alternative to toxic fast fashion, share our message and consider making a contribution on September 28th to be part of creating something better for all.

We thank you!

 

Status Update

We know! It’s taking sooo long! (Slow fashion, y’all.)

On our end, we’ve felt incredible momentum and as much busy-ness as we can allow. We’ve tried to convey this momentum as much as possible through our various channels but are first to admit that we haven’t been the best about newsletter/status updates on the main event…the clothes! In an effort to bring things as up to speed as possible, we’ll give you a brief run-down here, and a sneak peek at our look-book. We must preface all of this by saying there is almost no predicting final fabrics, colors, and timelines in this world, we must be okay with some things shifting in production depending on what is available, but what you’ll see in these photos is the best representation of what our final Collection will look like when it is finished!

  1. We have 5 complete samples designed and sewn to perfection! A sample is the same thing as a prototype, it is simply a one-off of what we are looking to produce on a larger scale. They include: a tunic, a (wear-it-4-ways) dress, a sleeveless dress, an overall, and a pair of pants. All of these pieces have pockets and are designed with warmer weather in mind, but are each layer-able and therefore multi-seasonal/transitional. We’ve been working closely with a local seamstress-turned-dear-friend, Velma, to bring these to life.
  2. We’ve been sourcing fabric so far in very small quantities for sample-making but will need to place larger orders as soon as we have the production funds from our Kickstarter Campaign (more on that soon!)
  3. We’ve located at least one manufacturing facility that we are excited to work with. They are located in Fall River, MA and they are doing good work to re-shore the apparel manufacturing industry. Good Clothing Co., check them out. They are currently creating one of their own factory samples out of one of our “Velma” samples so that they can give us an accurate quote of what production might cost if we go with them. Production cost will depend on how many pieces we are planning to run. Economy of scale comes into play here, so the more we think we’ll sell, the more we’ll make, and the more affordable the whole thing will be. So, tell your friends! 🙂
  4. We’re also working to develop our (for now, more bespoke) Lady Farmer Home line, featuring table linens, and have been commissioned to provide the napkins for a few different fancy dinners in our area. The next one is Farm-to-Fork, a benefit dinner to promote the Montgomery County Ag Reserve, the very reserve we hope to establish our own fiber and textile farm one day in the near future to bring even more of our supply chain home!
  5. As we gear up for our Kickstarter Crowdfunding Campaign launch next month, we are planning to be at as well as host a few more area events – taking our samples on the road for people to see & try on so they are ready to pre-order through Kickstarter. We’ll be at the first annual Homesteaders of America Conference in Warrenton, VA, the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello near Charlottesville, VA, participating in the Loudon County Farm Tour with George’s Mill Cheese (come see us at their barn dance!), and we’ll be co-hosting a shopping party at local boutique Sonoran Rose, proceeds to benefit the Ag Reserve, to name a few. I’m aware that we need a separate “Events” calendar section on our website as I type all of these things out. I’ll work on that!
  6. We are continually working on updating our online store (refreshing Lady Farmer T-Shirt inventory, adding tanks and baby onesies(!), as well as working with other Lady Farmers to stock some different goodies) and will also let you know as things become available.
  7. We’re busy in the garden and kitchen, putting up slaw & salsa with the abundance of summer veggies, and I recently ran across Queen Anne’s Lace jelly on Instagram and am curious to try it…has anyone done this? Who knew? 🙂

 

Natural Dye – Black Walnut

Natural Dye – Black Walnut

We’re surrounded by Black Walnut trees around here, so many that it’s too easy to be annoyed by the annual arrival of the green, fist sized nuts that create such a hazard falling from the branches during September and October. Then the yard becomes an obstacle course of firm balls covering the ground for weeks until the squirrels finally carry them off. If we want to pick them up in advance of the squirrels (say, if we decide we’d like to reduce the risk of breaking an ankle on our way to the garden) we are amazed at not only the abundance of nuts, but the tenacity of the thick, dark stain they leave on everything they touch. If you don’t wear gloves, you are stuck with it on your hands for weeks.

Looking at it another way, however, the Black Walnut tree is an amazing resource, providing for the willing homesteader an impressive array of gifts–including not only a delicious and nutritious gourmet nut, an oil with numerous uses, beautiful hard wood, and a lovely dye for yarns and fabrics.

That’s why this year, as we begin our Lady Farmer exploration of sustainable and functional clothing, I needed only to look in my backyard for an excellent place to start in playing with natural fabric dyes.

Here’s what I did:

  1. I got a clean(ish) 5 gallon plastic tub and filled it with ripe black walnuts picked off the ground
  2. Filled it with water and let the nuts soak for a few days. I think two days would be the minimum.
  3. Poured the water through a strainer into a 5 gallon pot (I used my canning pot) and set it to simmer for 2 hours.
  4. I took two pieces of an organic hemp fabric blended with tencel, soaked them briefly in warm water (I read that this prepares the fabric to receive the dye and lessens the damage from the hot water soak)  and placed them in the vat.
  5. Took one of them out after about 3 hours and left the other one in overnight

This is just one example of the miracles of color that surround us every day, in every season. We look forward to helping you see them–and creating ways for you to wear them!

– Mary