What's grey and white and warm all over?
The Rhode Island Resource Conservation & Development Area Council, the RIDEM Division of Agriculture, and the Rhode Island Sheep Cooperative are working together to create a market for wool blankets made with Rhode Island wool.
What's tan and brown and warm all over? Wool blankets made of locally grown, natural wool! The Rhode Island Resource Conservation & Development Area Council, the RIDEM Division of Agriculture, and the Rhode Island Sheep Cooperative are working together to create a market for wool blankets made with Rhode Island wool.
Rhode Island sheep farmers are having difficulty selling their wool. The decline of wool textile mills in New England and low wool prices have turned much raw wool into a nuisance rather than a product. As a result, excess raw wool is often stored on the farm, used as compost, buried, or disposed of at local landfills. Rhode Island sheep producers approached RI RC&D with a request to investigate options for the local use of their raw wool.
RI RC&D facilitated the formation of a project steering committee to move the project forward in 2006. Committee members include representatives from the Rhode Island Sheep Cooperative, RI RC&D, URI, USDA-NRCS and private citizens. The Committees project goal was to produce wool blankets by fall of each year to have for sale during the holiday season.
This year, wool collection day was held on June 6, 2009. Producers collected over 2500 pounds of wool at the Southside Community Land Trusts Urban Edge Farm in Cranston, Rhode Island. The group then collaborated with the Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association, and Worcester County Sheep Breeders Association to ship the wool to South Carolina for cleaning and processing before returning to southern New England for blanket production.
Clean wool arrived back in New England for processing into a finished blanket in late August 2009. The blankets were completed in mid November.
The long term goal of this project is to develop a process to produce quality wool blankets to bring more income to farmers. Ultimately, we hope that more wool producers will participate in the project and serve to promote the sustainability of local agriculture and agricultural products.
Order your Rhody Warm Blanket online at the RI Sheep Cooperative web site - www.risheep.org
Chris Modisette, RC&D Coordinator, USDA-NRCS
Polly Hopkins, President