Libeco Organic: The Origins

06.10.2017

Libeco Organic: The Origins

Sustainability

Organic to the next level

At Libeco, we are well aware of the advantages that flax brings for the environment (we gave you 4 reasons why earlier). Not long ago, we realized that there were possibilities to go even further. And we were happy to accept the challenge.

Flax, the environmentally friendly fiber, is already used for creating a broad spectrum of products. When we create collections, we do so with a minimum impact on the environment: our mill is CO2 neutral and waste is turned into resource is reprocessed and reused. But what if we created a collection that goes beyond that “minimum”. What if we created a collection with ZERO impact? A collection entirely in symbiosis with our planet, grown naturally and processed with respect for craftsmanship?

In this post on our Organic Linen collection, we look back on how it all started. How did farmers survive a shift from modern methods to traditional methods, excluding every part of the process with negative impact on the environment.

Back to basics

After some research, we came in touch with a small group of farmers in the region of Seine-et-Marne in France and we listened to their story. They told us how they have been cultivating flax and other crops organically for over ten years. This means they do not use any chemicals, neither fertilizers nor crop protectors. If you know that they encounter the same issues as conventional farmers (insects, fungi, weeds,…) but with less means to fight them, you can say that this is an incredible challenge. Could it even be possible to grow organic crops ánd live from it?

Farmers have been growing these crops for thousands of years and passed their knowledge on from generation to generation. Since the industrial revolution, mechanization improved factories, making them able to process more crops in a shorter timespan. To keep up with the demand, farmers started using chemicals to guarantee a larger output. Today, using these in agriculture is normal and traditional farming is considered less rewarding and labor intensive. But for organic farmers returning back to basics was eventually the answer.

Traditional methods

Crop rotation has been around since the Middle Ages and it is still surprisingly efficient today. By alternating wheat, alfalfa (base component for fodder) and flax, the fields recover under perfect circumstances. As plants leave residue behind in the soil, the right combination of plants redistributes minerals and nutrients and replenishes the field for the next crop.

As you can read in one of our posts (Why pulling and retting is key for flax), flax needs to ret before it can be harvested. By eliminating the use of chemicals, the natural retting process takes less time and is much more efficient compared to conventional methods. Because of this, the yield volume is more or less the same, but the qualitymuch higher.

Sustainability - cycle_crop_rotation.png

Back to nature

As years went by, their techniques improved. They tried specific varieties of flax, different sowing techniques and even applied mechanical weed treatments. Today, over 10 years later, they see a different landscape. The biodiversity has returned, with a large presence of earthworms, ladybirds and bees. Nutritions and minerals returned to the soil in a natural way. This microclimate provides crops that grow easily and at a natural pace, making the flax grown here of an exceptional quality.

And the result? Well, we are proud to present our Libeco Organic collections. Probably the most organic collections in the world!

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