Fibres of Freedom brings you fibres grown and woven with threads of justice and sustainability along every step of the chain beginning with the seed to the caring and creative hands of farmers and seed savers, and continuing with the artisans who are spinning yarn, weaving cloth, and hand embroidering.
Cotton became the fibre of freedom in the Indian independence movement when Gandhi reintroduced the spinning wheel and began to spin cotton. The spinning wheel was long a source and symbol of self-reliance in India. However, with the introduction of industrial machinery, millions of people were left without livelihoods.
Today, a similar transition is taking place in agriculture. Native seeds, developed over centuries and shared freely among farming communities, are being replaced with industrial seeds that require chemicals, synthetic fertilizers, and a lot of water.
The combination of spiraling costs of industrial seeds and
chemicals, along with increasing crop failures have resulted in farmer debt, loss of their land, and loss of income. Tragically, this desperate situation has resulted in farmer suicides. Over 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in the last 15 years in India, mainly in the cotton belt regions where native seeds were replaced by industrial seeds, often genetically modified seeds.
By promoting traditional seeds and farming, Fibres of Freedom projects and products are reconnecting Gandhi’s legacy of self-reliance and fairness.
Fibres of Freedom responding by sowing seeds of freedom. Fibres of Freedom projects include:
- Distributing native cotton seeds to farmers, establishing
community seed banks to ensure that farmers have free
access to traditional, native varieties of numerous crops,
including cotton, that can grow without chemicals.
- Providing outreach and education to restore traditional and ecological knowledge about farming.
- Reviving artisanal skills such as weaving, vegetable dyeing of fabrics, embroidery, and more.
- Establishing Gardens of Hope for the widows and children of the farmers who have committed suicide. Left with little income, widows are growing Gardens of Hope to provide themselves and their children with organic food and with a hope of building a better future.