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Sep 06

Acadian Brown Cotton Ever-Growing

It’s all about brown cotton in Louisiana and Acadian brown cotton (ABC) is becoming an ever-growing sustainable movement. In a recent blog, we introduced you to the story of Acadian brown cotton by tracing the history and culture of the Cajun people of Louisiana. The documentary film Coton jaune: Acadian Brown Cottonproduced and directed by Sharon Gordon Donnan, profiles this history, tradition and the beauty of Acadian brown cotton blankets.

New Team Members Bring Fresh Insight
The Field to Fashion Project team has grown with new members adding expertise in various areas. Zach McMath is the owner and operator of the Acadiana Food Hub, which supports Farm to Table organic foods, incubator kitchens and more. The hub connects the region’s local farmers to markets, grocers, restaurants and institutions. Zach has enlisted many of these same farmers to plant Acadian Brown Cotton as a secondary crop and encourages them to go organic.

Mark Simon manages the University of Louisiana Lafayette Cade Research Facility and Seed Bank; heirloom seeds will be produced and banked at this facility. The university has a small cotton patch this year, but it will grow, insuring a viable seed source for future generations.

Emolyn Liden from North Carolina relocated to Breaux Bridge where she opened La Petite Carolina. Emolyn is an accomplished musician, dancer, spinner, weaver, knitter and features ABC products in her shop.

Farmers Jump on Board
New farmers and some close-to-retiring farmers are jumping on the brown cotton bandwagon. As small farms decrease in Louisiana, growers are encouraged to produce brown cotton as a second crop. Much enthusiasm has been generated through accessible farmer’s coops. For example, Jerry Hale grows ABC on beautifully restored property in Breaux Bridge. Several farmers are working toward Organic Certification which matches the project’s goal of producing organic and sustainable cotton. A total of more than 400-500 plants (five 100-foot rows) of heirloom ABC is growing in Acadiana.

Connections With Mexico
Recent visits to Oaxaca, Mexico, to see fields of coyuchi, the naturally-colored brown cotton, has created a bridge of interest and collaboration between the farmers in Oaxaca and Louisiana. It is believed that the brown cotton of Acadiana probably originated in Mexico during ancient times.

Brown Cotton Fiber Available This Fall
The Field to Fashion Project will have brown cotton fiber available this fall for spinners. This first harvest is an exciting development and spinners and weavers, including me, are itching to sample the new fiber. Check out their Facebook page to tell them whether you would like loose fiber, carded fiber or roving.

Fun Fact
There is a special event for team members, local community supporters and potential backers on November 10 with entertainment provided by three Grammy Award winners–Michael Doucet of Beausoleil, Wilson Savoy of Pine Leaf Boys and Savoy Family Band, and Louie Michot of Lost Bayou Ramblers. All are supporting ABC Field to Fashion as potential growers, seed bankers, stewards of the land and the culture.

The Future
Exciting events are taking place because so many people support the Acadian Brown Cotton Project. Due to help and encouragement from Amy DuFault of the New England area Fibershed, the Field to Fashion project connected with Rebecca Burgess of the California Fibershed and is now officially approved as a Fibershed group. Excellent guidance, support and connectivity from so many supporters keeps the project growing.

Supporters are looking forward to a large exhibition and symposium about Acadian brown cotton and the Field to Fashion Project, planned for September 2020 at the Hilliard University Art Museum. If you want to be part of this big sustainable pile on, connect with The Field to Fashion Acadian Brown Cotton project. It’s all about cotton!


I would like to thank Sharon Donnan, who produced the documentary film with her partner Suzanne Chaillot Breaux, for wrangling people and photos to make this story happen and continuing to push the Field to Fashion project forward step by step…Judy Newland

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