|Green Mountain Spinnery: A Leader in Organic Wool Processing
By BECKY TALLEY
Sheep Industry News Associate Editor
(January 1, 2008) When it comes to being a supporter of the small fine-wool flocks of New England, Green Mountain Spinnery is the top of the list.
This Putney, Vt., processing and spinning mill has been helping the wool industry in New England for around 25 years, all with an emphasis on supporting local sheep producers, protecting the environment and providing a natural wool–based product that consumers are clamoring for.
This small-scale mill offers a large line of all natural and organic wool yarns and custom wool processing, supplying consumers with the natural fiber product that has been processed without chemicals.
“We believe in wool, so everything we have is a wool blend,” says David Ritchie, one of the original founders and now one of 12 workers that owns this employee-owned company.
The mill was originally started because the founders were not able to find locally grown and processed yarn for their personal use. They were looking to start a mill that would create a high-quality yarn from natural fibers, while supporting the regional sheep farmers and developing environmentally sound practices in the industry.
Their vision has proven to be a success as, today, Green Mountain Spinnery is a success in certified organic processing and spinning (using certified organic wool) and the greenspun (certified organic processing of non-certified organic wool) processing industry, and has been influential in developing the current standards and regulations for those types of mills.
The company scours wool using a model of the New Zealand scouring system, using no chemicals, focusing on minimal water use in the process and recycling the water that has been used. In addition, there are no petroleum-based lubricants used in the entire scouring and spinning process. All of these practices are becoming important for many yarn users.
“People are really now coming around to see the importance of that,” Ritchie relates.
For their organic products, they mostly use New-England region wool, which has to be certified as organic on the farm. Ritchie says that they do also receive some organic wool from New Mexico flocks.
According to Ritchie, the amount of producers raising organic wool is fairly limited, but the demand for organic products, as well as the demand for locally grown and processed products, are really giving New England sheep producers incentive to take advantage of the trend.
“It certainly encourages them to keep the flock size or increase it. It won’t happen in the traditional, large flock way, but it’s going to happen in little bits and pieces,” he says.
For more information on Green Mountain Spinnery visit it’s Web site at www.spinnery.com or call at 1-800-321-9665.