The Homegrown/Homespun project, which launched on Friday, aims to restore the land around old buildings and canals to grow flax and woad which will then be turned into clothing.
It is a collaboration between regenerative agriculture initiative Regenagri, North-West England Fibershed, a group of textile professionals across West Yorkshire, Cumbria, Lancashire and Greater Manchester, as well as designer and Great British Sewing Bee judge Patrick Grant’s social enterprise Community Clothing, and the Canal and River Trust’s Super Slow Way project.
The pilot will start in Blackburn, restoring the land around old textile mills and canals with volunteers from the community planting and cultivating the crops through the summer.
The project will create the first pair of commercial Homegrown/Homespun jeans, from materials planted, harvested, spun, dyed and woven in Blackburn. The jeans will become part of the Community Clothing collection.
Mr Grant described it as an “amazing project” with “far reaching” benefits for the environment and nature.
“It’s such a simple idea,” he said. “The community 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.
“In doing this we’ll also 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.
“It’s incredibly exciting.”
Harry Farnsworth from Regenagri, which helps agribusinesses find more ecologically sustainable supply chains, said the intensive way fibre crops are produced is leading to mass land degredation and decreasing biodiversity “on a global scale”.
“The textiles industry accounts for 10 percent of global carbon emissions and 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 to 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.”