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Lanesboro Farmer's Market: now high in fiber

Fri, Oct 15th, 2010
Posted in Health & Wellness

The Lanesboro Farmer's Market provides fresh local produce, homemade jams and jellies, honey and soap, herbs and plants, and yummy baked goods. Now it's also high in fiber. This year a new vendor joined the market, adding wool and mohair to the mix. Kindred Spirit Farm sells their fiber products representing all phases of processing. They have raw wool, washed wool, roving, handspun yarn, mill spun yarn, and a few knitted and felted creations. Stacey York and her family moved their small fiber farm to Fillmore County two years ago. Even though they are still clearing land, establishing pastures, and fencing, producing and processing high quality wool has been a priority since day one.

They try to keep their sheep on pasture and put coats on them during muddy or wet weather. Each year they experiment with when to shear. Some of their sheep are sheared once a year and some are sheared twice. With three spinning wheels and a drum carder, Stacey tries to process about half of the fiber herself and she sends the rest up to a mill on a friend's farm in Hastings, Minnesota. The wool is hand washed, air dried, and dyed in small batches. Most of her yarn is spun in a lopi style which is thick or bulky weight and is very soft and lofty. It is attractive to knitters because you can use large needles and it works up quickly.

Kindred Spirit Farm's motto is "Sheep in the pasture, wool in hand, satisfies the soul." Stacey and her family get great pleasure from their sheep. They proudly display them at the Shepherd's Harvest festival in Lake Elmo and show them at local fairs and the State Fair. In recent years, they've spent many hours in the Baa Booth at the Minnesota State Fair promoting wool and American lamb.

They raise three breeds of longwool sheep. Romneys have the softest wool and is easy to spin and felt. It is often used in teaching people how to spin. Their other two breeds are heritage and endangered breeds. The Leicester Longwools have the shiniest wool, which is often mistaken for mohair. With less than 2,000 left in the world, the Leicester (pronounced lester) Longwools are listed as "critical" by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Leicesters have historical significance because George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had some. The champion ram at the first Minnesota State Fair was a Leicester Longwool. Today these sheep are best known as the breed that is part of the heritage farm at Colonial Williamsburg. Kindred Spirit Farm's third breed is the Lincoln. They are a large breed known for their curly locks. All three breeds are very calm and have sweet dispositions, making shepherding a joy.

Because they raise rare breeds, their wool is in demand from fiber artists and fiber enthusiasts. They have focused on selling their products to buyers through the internet. This is the first time Stacey has tried direct selling at a farmer's market. She is really pleased by the enthusiastic response she's gotten. Visitors to Lanesboro find her yarn a treat to commemorate their time in bluff country or great gift to give. Bed and breakfast owners have told her they heard about her from their guests. She's gotten lots of compliments on her hand dyed and hand painted art yarns. Shoppers who don't knit or crochet asked if they could wear a skein around their neck like a scarf. That gave Stacey the idea to create art yarn necklaces, which she displayed for the first time last week. Visitors to the farmer's market on October 30th will get to meet one of Stacey's sheep and watch her spin.

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