Spring flax for fall linen

Spring has sprung and we are all excited for what the season has in store for us.

Patricia met up with Suszanne Schwal back in 2015r to talk about their adventures in linen. A year later, Suszanne popped by to check in on where we are at with things at TapRoot Fibre. She wrote a lovely blog post on her website about TapRoot Fibre Lab.

Our seeds for this upcoming growing season arrived from Belgium. This year we planted five acres of Melina on April 29th, 2016. Patricia is working on securing a second­hand grubber/puller for harvesting this year so we are not trying to harvest five acres by hand.

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Josh with our flax seed from Belgium.

I (Rhea) attended the Saltscapes Expo on Friday, April 22nd, the biggest consumer expo east of Montreal that celebrates everything in Atlantic Canada. I presented on our machinery and linen product line. I have been going to the Saltscapes Expo as a participant for several years now and it was interesting to be on the other side of things. (put the link to saltscapes here)

I (Rhea) have been working each day at gettig linen processed as that we will have product available for sale. I have been prototyping our long line linen equipment. I take the ‘waste’ from the scutching machine and process it into roving using the Belfast Mini Mill equipment. Legacy Lane, a fibre Mill in New Brunswick are willing to try our short line linen roving through their spinning machine. We are excited to see their results and look forward to hearing from them.

Our immediate need is to launch an online shop for sales of the linen and the machines.

Mike, our engineer, plus people from Timberttec are working on installing an integrated transfer system. This system will help move the flax between each machine . Testing continues we are working on improvements for the breaker, testing rollers and on the scutcher, ­ the turbine blade bluntness We are awaiting the hackles for our hackling machine as they make their way from India. The hacking machine will comb the linen fibres to remove any remaining shive, any knots and short line linen (tow) fibres.

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Izaak planting the field of flax with Josh’s help.

Signs of Spring have started to show. One Community Shared Agriculture season has ended, and another one has begun.

We are continuing with seeding. Bunching onions, celeriac, kale, and leeks are just to name a few vegetables starting off in trays in the greenhouse. In addition to our transplants, we have been direct seeding some plants (barley, peas and sweetcorn) and started the second planting of some vegetables (broccoli, green onions, and lettuces).

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Linsey­Woolsey (80% linen/20% wool) roving

Our strawberries were covered in straw for the winter months. Recently, the straw has been removed and replaced by row cover.

Our vegetable storage is emptying out. We have been using, this time, to get some spring cleaning and maintenance done around the farm yard.

Some of TapRoot Farms’ seasonal workers have started to arrive. These guys have been working on the farm since the beginning and are an essential part of the farm. So far, eight tunnels have been covered in plastic, with more going up each day. These tunnels will be full of spinach, spring turnip, radish, green onions, and Asian greens.

We are offering guided tours throughout the season. Regardless if you are a member or not, if you have been waiting for an opportunity to see the farm, this is it. Our first walk was Saturday, April 30th, at 1 pm. We will be hosting other walks on August 20th and October 15th. We invite you to come back throughout the year and see how much the farm has changed throughout the year.

Our flax crop has been seeded just shy of 5 acres.

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About the Author

Rhea Hamlin is the Marketing and Communications Specialist at TapRoot Fibre Lab; where she is researching and promoting flax and linen. Rhea has a Business Administration degree with a Major in Marketing and a Minor in Management from Mount Saint Vincent University.

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