Why you should choose organic wool from The Organic Wool Shop, at Tamarisk Farm, Dorset

You do not need to choose this wool just because it is organic. Choose it because it is beautiful and functional. And because choosing this wool helps to maintain the rich and varied environment from which it derives its quality.

However being organic has clear benefits and everyone will have their own reasons for deciding to buy organic produce. Here are some questions you might like to ask:

Is organic important for personal health?

What about the health of the people working on the farm and mill?

Is organic better for the animals?

Is organic good for the environment

What are the political and social implications?

Does organic cost more?
Organic logo

Is organic important for personal health?

When you eat organic food you know that it is not doing you any harm. We have not got direct evidence of increased health in people who use organic fabrics rather than ones made from fibres produced on farms which use chemicals, but we do know that residues of the veterinary products commonly used on sheep are present in the fleeces, even long after it would have been acceptable to shear them for wool production for conventional processing. Under the organic regulations there are no treatments allowed on the fleece either on the animals before shearing or during subsequent processing at the mill. For people with particular sensitivities or for babies the clothing which touches the skin may be important. Knowing that there is no chance at all of contamination from synthetic pyrethroids, organophosphates or any other pesticides on the wool cannot be a disadvantage! Page top

What about the health of the people working on the farm and mill?

On conventional farms, the farmer or the people working with the farmer will run the risk of damage from the chemicals with which they have to work. We know personally, for example, people who have suffered serious ill health from working with sheep dip. At the mill only people friendly and environmentally friendly products are used in washing and processing and no synthetic dyes are used on our wool, so at every stage the working environment is safe.Page top

Is organic better for the animals?

Standards of animal husbandry are very high under any organic system. Our animals in particular live in an interesting and stress free world with a varied diet from the conservation grassland which keeps them healthy. If veterinary treatment is needed there is no hesitation, even if this means that the wool can no longer be used for organic yarn.Page top

Is organic good for the environment

For us, the key reason to farm organically, to eat organic food and buy other organic products is the imperative that we protect our environment. Organic farming is a developing system which has the long term health of the soil and the environment at its core. We may make local changes when cultivating or grazing, but nothing we do is irreversible, the global warming footprint is less than in conventional farming and always there are edges and pockets of undisturbed wildlife maintaining the overall biodiversity. Our farm is managed around large areas of high interest grassland and scrub and conservation is our particular passion. It is this combination which generates the wool we spin and gives it a distinctive quality. Our strap line has become "Farming and Wildlife Side by Side", and organic is a fundamental part of this.Page top

What are the political and social implications?

As older people and as healthy people, we are not very concerned that wearing non-organic clothes would do us personal harm in our lifetimes but, just as our farm on the Dorset coast is a haven for wildlife and has soil full of appropriate microorganisms working to support the growth of our crops and animals, we want all land used for production to be a vibrant living environment. Organic farms are generally smaller, employ more people, have a smaller carbon footprint and reduce food miles and are rooted in their community and their local environment. Globally, organic textile production is a model of fair trade and safe working environment which the conventional trade has a long way to achieve. There is good indication that small farms with high biodiversity, which is the model of organic farming we favour, are very productive and many commentators think that the system could feed the world - though it is also true that it is likely to be "enough for everyone's need, not for everyone's greed". Page top

Does organic cost more?

Organic husbandry is generally of the low input/low output model and is more labour intensive than conventional. You may find that our wool is a little more expensive than conventional, but I am glad to say that the price we need to charge is not out of scale for wool of this style, organic or not. Our costs in cash are increased by being organic, but the benefits are greater. The hidden costs of not being organic will have to be paid eventually.

A more important question to ask is not "Is it expensive?" but "What am I getting for my money?" .........

......... and the answer is "All of the above!"

Shetland ewe photo

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