The wool commerce as soon as shaped the historic spine of the British financial system, with fleeces bought abroad to international retailers, nonetheless, in current instances its worth has taken a tumble.
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The most recent announcement from the wool board revealed payouts of simply 75p/fleece, regardless of shearing prices of £1.65 a ewe.
Regardless of this, a bunch of British companies and farm diversifiers are working to place wool again on the map, making use of this sustainable, pure and virtually untapped useful resource.
Romney Marsh Wools
Farming on the Romney Marsh in Kent, Kristina and Paul Boulden run a combined enterprise with arable crops, cattle and sheep.
They preserve a flock of 1,000 Romney sheep, that are indigenous to the Romney Marsh with a heritage that may be traced again to the 13th century.
In 2008, they launched Romney Marsh Wools as a diversification.
“The sheep kind a extremely essential a part of our farming system,” says Kristina, “We needed to place British wool again on the map and felt positive there was a means we might flip it into an finish product whereas decreasing air miles as properly.”
To do that, Kristina and Paul have collaborated with conventional craftspeople and mills in Kent and throughout the UK, teaming up so as to add worth to the wool from their very own flock.
Now, 15 years on, Romney Marsh Wools has an unlimited vary of merchandise, from throws, cushions and nation clothes made by native seamstresses, to toiletries and soaps made utilizing lanolin from the wool.
The latest product is a type of slug pellet produced from their Romney wool, which incorporates pure slug- and snail-repelling properties.
“Wool is a pure, renewable, sustainable and extremely versatile materials – it’s simply stunning,” says Kristina.
“It’s been an actual journey, however with the last word objective of selling wool and all of its advantages. It’s not only a woolly jumper – the advantages are fairly limitless.”
The Chimney Sheep
Based mostly in Cumbria, close to the Lake District, Chimney Sheep creator and director Sally Phillips has manufactured a chimney draught excluder made solely from Herdwick wool, sourced from native farms.
The straightforward gadget is produced from felted wool and works by plugging unused chimneys to cease warmth loss from houses – shaving about 5% off the annual heating invoice.
The Chimney Sheep depends on being just a bit bit larger than the chimney opening so as to maintain itself in place and, as a result of the wool is malleable, it will probably conform to any irregularities.
“I’ve at all times had an curiosity in vitality saving and sustainability, and I used to be conscious of some sheep’s wool insulation that was made by a neighborhood firm, so I assumed that growing a wool chimney blocker appeared like the plain factor to do,” says Sally.
“I attempted varied several types of wool and the softer sorts simply fell out and didn’t maintain itself in place. That’s why we particularly use Herdwick wool, as a result of it has the coarse, wiry properties we’d like.”
Sally gathers the wool immediately from a number of native farmers, and final yr collected 30t to be become Chimney Sheep.
Fourth-generation farmer Kate Drury, from Northamptonshire, is learning a PhD in wool on the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester.
She not too long ago received the Innovate UK Ladies in Innovation award for creating sustainable rope that’s produced from British wool, and has been praised for its environmental and sustainability credentials.
Requested how the thought first happened, Kate says: “Once I was within the final semester of my masters research, I used to be requested by one among my educating professors whether or not one might make rope out of wool. So, I went away and made some”.
“Wool is not only wool – it has so many alternative traits and properties, and the curiosity for the rope got here from the seaweed trade, which is kicking off within the UK.”
Kate’s sustainable rope is getting used within the restoration and renewal of the Sussex seabed to tie seaweed to rocks and repopulate the realm.
“The wool rope is extra sympathetic to the atmosphere,” says Kate. “After they use plastic rope, they should return and minimize it out a number of years later, and there’s at all times the query of how a lot is definitely collected.”
The rope has additionally discovered a spread of different makes use of, together with as in livestock halters, and it famously featured within the bunting in Savile Row for King Charles’ coronation.
After spending time eradicating plastic tree guards on his buddies’ farms, London-based Graham Hull needed to discover a resolution to the wasted plastics within the agricultural and horticultural sector.
After establishing biodegradable tree guard firm Grown Inexperienced, he was horrified to find that within the UK every year, greater than 500m plastic pots find yourself in landfill, every of which can take greater than 450 years to degrade.
“I began experimenting and got here up with the thought of constructing plant pots from wool,” says Graham.
“We made them, they usually appeared to work very well, however we didn’t know why they had been so efficient.
“We did some work with Lancaster College and the Eden Mission. The tough science of it’s that wool is a pure insulator, but additionally retains moisture.
“Once you consider a sheep’s fleece, it clearly repels water and retains it out, however, within the case of the pots, when the water is inside, the wool truly retains it.”
Due to this, the wool pots use about 25% much less water than conventional plastic pots, and have the additional advantage of being a pure slug and snail repellent.
After struggling to discover a manufacturing unit to fabricate the pots within the UK, the staff discovered a constructing in Egypt, and makes use of a mix of British and Egyptian wools.
“It’s a actually incredible, environmentally pleasant manufacturing unit,” says Graham.
The wool pots will be planted immediately into soil and can naturally degrade into plant meals, providing a zero-waste and zero-plastic resolution.