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It all begins with a cotton seed...

Dina Stander

... and the soil it is planted in. An important aspect of bringing Last Dance Shrouds to market has been making decisions about which fabrics to use and how to source them. Once we opted for a super soft feel, cotton became the best choice and we began searching for affordable organic yardage.

 

Why organic when it costs more? Being mindful that our shrouds are specifically designed for use in natural and green burial grounds, the entire ecology of our product has to be weighed alongside our choices about frugality. 

Here is an illustration of the life-cycle of a cotton plant:

My dad was a pioneering organic farmer, so it is possible that I think more about farmers when I consider my own production and business values. Most of what I eat and most of what I wear begins with a seed and the soil it is planted in. As I have been building this site I have been curious to learn more about cotton. I asked our organic cotton supplier where their fabrics come from (India and the USA mostly, some also from China) and then I began to search online so that I can share with you more about organic and fair trade cotton farming, and the cotton plant's journey from seed to shroud.

Here is a link to a youtube video from the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Collaborative, a conversation with some farmers:

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xncyDJkJcEg

And a look at what happens between harvest and your home:

I found these videos, illustrations, and images from India at the Textile Exchange Farm Hub website, here: http://farmhub.textileexchange.org/

If you are interested in the people and places where the cotton that might be used in Last Dance Shrouds has journeyed from, please continue to browse. I've provided a few windows into the lives of organic cotton farmers in India and in Africa. The VIMEO video linked below, On the Trail of Fair Trade Cotton, was very slow to load on my rural internet connection and well worth the wait:

https://vimeo.com/53851781

(I will learn how to make the link live soon so you won't have to copy and paste, one challenge at a time!)

The broadcloth in the Chrysalis Shroud begins in a field in India. Here are some pictures from an organic cotton harvest there. 

So, let this be a gratitude to the cotton seed, the soil, the farmers, the buyers, the millers, the weavers, the shippers, and our distributor friends, close enough to home that I can go and indulge in touching many bolts of cloth, until I find the ones that feel just right to be made into a Last Dance Shroud. Let this be a celebration of the cotton boll.


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