An ambitious textiles project to regenerate the land, economy, and community of the North West
regenagri®, the regenerative agriculture initiative from Control Union, is supporting a ground-breaking regenerative fashion project, in collaboration with designer Patrick Grant, his social enterprise Community Clothing, Super Slow Way and North West England Fibershed. The project launches this Friday (23 April 2021) in Blackburn, Lancashire as the town becomes the first in modern times to grow its own clothes.
This pilot project aims to restore the land around old textile mills and canals in Blackburn, and help increase local biodiversity, whilst sequestering carbon into the soils. A field of flax and woad (indigo) will be planted with the help of volunteers from the local community of Shadsworth and Whitebirk who will help cultivate it over the summer. It will be harvested and processed in the autumn, spun, dyed and woven in Blackburn town centre during the British Textile Biennial (1-31 October 2021), to create the first pair of commercial Homegrown/Homespun jeans in designer and manufacturer Patrick Grant’s Community Clothing collection. Advising on regenerative farming techniques on what was previously waste ground, the regenagri team will be monitoring the project through site visits and on their digital hub. This will enable them to provide insight into the positive environmental impact of the project in terms of carbon emissions, soil health and other key regenerative indicators.
Homegrown/Homespun aims to build communities of fibre and dye growers, processors, makers, repairers and recyclers across Pennine Lancashire to produce home-grown textiles and garments in a healthy, resilient and regenerative textile ecosystem on its disused green spaces and in vacant cotton mills, alongside the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, powered by renewable energy. The Homegrown/Homespun linen line will be developed over the following two years and unveiled at the British Textile Biennial 2023 whose theme is sustainability.
The project is also being supported by The Centre for Global Eco-innovation at Lancaster University, The School of Water, Energy and Environment at Cranfield University, The School of Textiles and Design at Heriot Watt University, Blackburn with Darwen Council, JJ Sainsbury Trust,The Society of Dyers and Colourists and a broad alliance of industry partners and craft practitioners.
Picture credits: Justine Aldersey-Williams.
Harry Farnsworth from regenagri says:
“The textiles industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions and the intensive manner that fibre crops are produced in is leading to mass land degradation and decreasing biodiversity on a global scale. Textiles can also put considerable strain on water resources, pollute the environment and be connected to low labour conditions. That is why we think it is vital so support projects like Homegrown/Homespun. Using regenerative farming methods and by looking at the industry holistically, regenerative agriculture can help decrease the burden of fibre production on the wider environment. Cotton, flax, wool (and others) can be produced in a way that farms with nature and encourages greener supply chains, better working conditions and employment opportunities.
As more fashion brands are starting to move towards fibres that have been produced in a regenerative way, we are here to support them on that journey.”
Designer Patrick Grant says:
“Homegrown/Homespun is an amazing project with far reaching benefits for the environment and nature, for the health and cohesion of the local community, and for the stimulation of a local green economy. It’s such a simple idea: the people of Blackburn will reclaim disused urban spaces and on them they will grow flax and woad, we’ll make linen and indigo, and from that we’ll make clothes, in a completely sustainable natural system. And in doing this we’ll create new habitats for wildlife, soil systems will be regenerated, and we hope hundreds if not thousands of people will engage with nature in a meaningful and positive way. Its incredibly exciting.”