Civil Eats TV: Women in Wool | Civil Eats

Civil Eats TV: Women in Wool

We profile women working the land, with animals, and with wool to create a local fiber shed: ‘If you care about where your food comes, you should care about where your fiber comes from.’

Lora Kinkaid holding a sheep before shearing.

Lora Kinkade. (Photo credit: Mizzica Films)

In the latest episode of Civil Eats TV, we profile the unique way women work together in the world of wool—from the land they manage and the sheep they shear to the ways they’re contributing to vibrant local economies.

Hazel Flett stands in front of a huge pile of hay bales. (Photo credit: Judy Starkman / Mizzica Films)

Hazel Flett. (Photo credit: Judy Starkman / Mizzica Films)

We visit Bodega Pastures, a 1,000-acre sustainable sheep ranch located in Bodega, California, managed by owner Hazel Flett, who has long employed ethical and ecological practices.

We watch as Lora Kinkade, a 30-year-old traveling shearer—a rarity in a highly competitive, male-dominated industry—demonstrates her unique and humane approach to shearing.

And we learn about Kinkade’s longstanding relationships with local ranchers, the importance of sheep-to-soil health, and the necessary role shearing plays in the health of the animals.

“Shearing is completely vital for the health and well-being of the animal,” says Kinkade.

“[Shearing] helps them avoid heatstroke, heart attack, there could be parasitic infestation if we let the sheep’s wool get too massive,” explains Rebecca Burgess, the executive director of Fibershed.

Lora Kinkaid shearing sheep.

Lora Kinkade.

Burgess explains the importance of investing in regenerative pasture-based systems that produce “climate beneficial” wool, which is ultimately sold through her organization, at farmers’ markets, and to Jessica Switzer Green, who we watch transform it at JG SWITZER, a nearby home furnishing store, bringing the end product to a wider market.

Jessica Switzer Green preparing wool for felting

Jessica Switzer Green.

Women are at the center of this work to reinvigorate an alternative, renewable fiber economy that goes against the grain of today’s approach to fast fashion, synthetic materials, and expendable resources. “We have devalued and ignored all of these very virtuous materials that are coming off the landscape,” says Burgess.

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Rebecca Burgess.

Rebecca Burgess.

In discussing the current global fiber economy, where fabrics are made artificially cheap by incorporating plastics, Burgess emphasizes the importance of a holistic approach to food and fiber.

“We have to think about working landscapes as the real integrated systems they are—they’re not just feeding us, they’re clothing us,” she says.

Watch the full Civil Eats TV episode, “Women in Wool,” below; you can subscribe to our YouTube channel to see every episode and get notified when the next one airs.

 

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Film and photos © Mizzica Films.

Since 2009, the Civil Eats editorial team has published award-winning and groundbreaking news and commentary about the American food system, and worked to make complicated, underreported stories—on climate change, the environment, social justice, animal welfare, policy, health, nutrition, and the farm bill— more accessible to a mainstream audience. Read more >

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  1. Would love to get in on this and tell you more about my breed program for Fine wool genetics in the US called Polwarth. Find wool with smooth skin, higher fleece weights and average daily gains, this is a huge Potential benefit to production genetics.

    Raised on improved pasture, I’d love to join the conversation! Great optics and vistas from the farm.
  2. What more can I say but another fascinating profile by Civil Eats, which in my view is the leading source of information on agricultural practices.

    It is also very welcoming to see these women succeeding and doing some very valuable good work. / Ivan Kinsman, Founding Director, Rainwater Runoff

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