Broadlawn Farm is one of the many local growers part of the Rust Belt Linen Project, a community educational project organized by the Rust Belt Fibershed that aims to:
Connect people to the land and its gifts
Create conversations around the material origins of our clothing
Build a community of stewards with educational opportunities for soil health and regenerative philosophies
Provide opportunities for experimentation with home-grown fiber.
Collect data and samples to support future research on viability of local linen through published reports and visual showcase
2023 will be the third year that Broadlawn Farm is taking part in the project. We grow a 20’ x 10’ plot with the ‘Linore’ variety of flax.
Why do we grow flax at Broadlawn Farm?
100% of flax-to-linen production has gone overseas, with no flax textile production available in the United States. With a nod towards Broadlawn Farm’s positive psychology roots, we believe that many things that enhance our well-being can be, and are, very simple. We love the back to basics approach to bring this beautiful natural fiber back through the Rust Belt Linen Project.
Growing, harvesting and processing flax is a labor intensive, time consuming task that requires patience, hard work and mindfulness. The beautiful blue flowers, flax seeds and (eventually) linen it produces, makes it extraordinarily fulfilling and fun. We work with area schools to include students in the growing process. It also fosters deep and meaningful conversations with many community members on the importance of “materialism” in the sense of being connected to the materials we use and their origins.
This year, we are hoping to create signature Broadlawn Farm products with some of our flax seeds: Broadlawn Farm Flax Muffins and Broadlawn Farm Flax Candies. Flaxseed is tremendously healthy, providing a good amount of protein, fiber, and Omega-3 fatty acids. It may help lower the risk of some cancers, help maintain a healthy weight, and reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.
Opportunity to Gather
One of the most important values at Broadlawn Farm is to bring people together in inspiring & creative ways to curate magical events, experiences, ideas & products. When we started growing flax, so many people had questions, were curious and wanted to be involved. We thought it would be an ideal opportunity to gather around this important project to learn, get out into nature and, maybe even, provide an opportunity for people to enjoy an experience of what we call in positive psychology, “collective effervescence,” which is “the feeling of energy and harmony when people are engaged in a shared purpose.”
About our Flax Picking Party
Three years ago when I started growing flax, I had idyllic visions of myself out in the field, picking flax while bees and birds swooped and sang around me—a little bit like something out of a Disney princess movie. The flax fields were beautiful, but what I hadn’t counted on was just how much flax our plot would yield. Standing among my flax plot, with garden gloves and a bucket in hand ready to pick, I quickly became overwhelmed. How in the world was I ever going to pick all of this flax?
Bribing my children was an option, but even that was not all that fruitful once the three of us got out there. Standing in the field one morning by myself, making a small, unnoticeable dent in my picking, I thought about how fun it would be to have a bunch of friends out here with me. I love to entertain, so I thought-why not? Let’s have a flax picking party!
I put the call out to a bunch of friends and families to show up when and how they could on a Sunday afternoon. As I’ve learned with my kids, a little incentive provided by food and drinks never hurts either so I threw in the offer with my invite that I would provide all the supplies and sustenance. To my delight, a hearty group of neighbors and friends continue to arrive on a gorgeous late summer afternoon to pick flax.
We have such a fun time all out there together. Some of us pick the flax pods while others work to hang the plant for drying or to crush the pods to expose and store the seed. We pick and chat, and enjoy each other's company while we work. It is usually delightfully warm, so after a good two hours of picking, we all move to the pool and the kids swim. It’s always idyllic for me–not the Disney princess bird and bees vision I had had earlier--but better.