Sally Fox's new natural-color cotton project

Foxfibre cotton bolls. Photo courtesy of Sally Fox.

In 1989, Sally Fox sold her first crop of California-grown, natural-color cotton to a Japanese mill. Since returning from serving in the Peace Corps, Sally had been breeding cotton on a very small scale at her home. The vast majority of the cotton grown in the world today is white, but cotton plants can also produce lint in a range of browns and greens. These naturally occurring colors, and possibly more colors we don't have the genetics for today, were grown and spun thousands of years ago in South America. Sally wanted to know if she could develop a variety of cotton that produced a colored lint that was also a long enough staple to be processed by modern spinning mills-and she did. This was just the beginning of Sally's struggle to introduce an option for cotton growers that aims to be more environmentally sustainable. Her cotton breeding program is certified organic, and because her product is naturally colored, pollutants and resources associated with dyeing are also eliminated. However, growing a crop of natural-color cotton in the United States is controversial, and Sally has relocated her business, Vreseis several times. You can read the full story in David Brown's book, Inventing Modern America: From the Microwave to the Mouse, or read it here on the Vreseis website.

Vreseis is now located near Brooks, California. Sally says a local fiber-shed group encouraged her to get her breeding program up and going again. They were so supportive that she decided to try an Indiegogo fund-raiser campaign to help cover her planting expenses. Sally says, "My real goal is to operate my breeding program as a not-for-profit where I can teach people how to breed this organic colored cotton and transfer the knowledge that I have acquired to other interested people. And to get seeds to them as well. In order to do that I felt that I needed to get a crop in the ground and be actually doing it again, rather than just talking about it." We can help Sally get a new crop going! Fiber folks are spreading the word about the project via Ravelry, and Sally's local group, the Spindles and Flyers Spinning Guild (California), shared the link on its Facebook page. The Indiegogo campaign is only active until August 30, 2013, so head over to the site now if you would like to participate.  

Editor's Note: The Indiegogo fund-raiser has now met its goal, but will continue to accept donations through the end of August. See website for details. 

 

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