Much to my surprise I have been awarded a grant for my Vancouver flax growing project. I've never applied for a grant before and didn't expect to be successful.
I'm going to be growing flax next year at the Means of Production garden http://moparrc.com/ and also in what I call my Other Garden (a back yard of a nearby rental property). I now have the money to buy/build the flax processing equipment neccessary to turn flax into linen fibre and enough left to hire a Modo truck to bring in some compost and manure.
Flax was grown all over BC, as far north as Bella Coola - we have the ideal climate. Families planted a small plot of it every few years to provide the material to make garments, bed sheets etc. As it's such a hard wearing fibre, it wasn't neccessary to plant every year. Being able to process, spin and weave your own linens wasn't an art, it was just what you had to do if you wanted something other than woollen underwear (scratchy!) and blankets.
I'll be posting about the project on this website and also MOP, and have already begun the process of getting the land ready at the Other Garden. Caitlin ffrench (knitter, weaver, spinner, dyer and much more) will be partnering with me to grow at MOP, and she'll take the project forward in 2014 to grow more flax at Trillium Park and various other City pieces of land.
The flax processing equipment will be stored at the field house until Trillium Park's artist space is ready and will be available for anyone to use. If you want to grow some flax in your garden (it has such pretty flowers!) let me know. Flax seed from the store won't work, it needs to be a specific fibre producing type ('Marilyn', available here http://flaxforsale.com/html/the_store.html). You could grow some at home and use the processing equipment to make your own linen.
So check out this blog for updates on the flax growing process and also the retting, braking, scutching, hackling, strick making, spinning and weaving of flax in Vancouver.