Type: Wool - alpaca and sheep
Years in operation: 15
Annual revenue: 10k-50k
(Average over last three years)
For nearly fifteen years we have raised alpacas on a 10 acre farm. For the first several years we were very busy with selling the animals themselves. Over time the demand has changed. We always used our wool by having it processed into yarn. A background in horticulture gave me interest from the beginning in using plant dyes. It is now the only thing we use to dye our yarns. We grow dye plants on the farm and also do harvest responsibly from nature. Lana Plantae is Latin for wool and the plant kingdom. We currently have 25 alpacas and since 2014 a growing number sheep. The farm is maintained by our family of four. We do everything ourselves including shearing the alpacas, all labor and animal husbandry.
Inside the Farm
How is your approach to farming different than other farms in the same category?
Our farm is unique in our use of natural dyes. Over the past fifteen years I have learned the art and science of natural dyes. We strive to make very soft yarns with beautiful natural colors. Knowing where your food comes from is important and we think knowing where your yarn comes from is important too. We want to give knitters the experience of using yarn that is regional, right down to the color. Most yarn originates in Australia, is milled in China and imported to the United States. There are many harmful chemical involved in this process, including wool softeners and synthetic dyes. We use all of our own wool and also purchase from other small scale farmers. We are happy to support other like minded farms that raise animals that they care about.
How does your different approach contribute to a long-term profitable growth strategy for your farm and other small farms like yours?
The trend with clothing is increasingly to bring it back home. People are beginning to understand the current state of clothing manufacturing is not sustainable. More and more people are also interested in making their own wardrobe. Regional plant dyed yarns fit nicely with this increased awareness. We are supplying people a means to create their own slow fashion. Items hand knit with quality yarn are the new heirlooms. We would like to grow to have larger inventories of yarn available so that options such as some wholesale will be open to us. We also can see making more handmade items such a felted rugs using wool and natural dyes. The demand for locally produced goods will only increase. The more demand for yarn means more demand for regional wool encouraging farmers to raise more fine wool breeds of sheep such as merino or rambouillet.
How would you specifically use a Mortgage Lifter Lift or Mini Lift?
We would like to purchase and process more raw wool into yarn to offer more unique blends and weights. We would like to do knitting patterns for our yarns. We are currently redoing our website and would use funds for professional help with that as well as branding. We would also invest in a better camera for product photography.
Please share why you are so passionate about your farm and/or farming in general.
We love our small farm and our animals and have learned so much from them. Using plant dyes on our wool aligns perfectly with our support and belief in seeking out food and goods that are sustainable. The natural dye process allows for time spent outside collecting and growing plants. It is an interesting combination of art and science and it is also a connection to the past. Small scale farming and slow color have an important place in sustainable agriculture.
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