Searching for Canadian Bast Fibre

I’m on the board of a flax group in Ontario, where our goal is to get farmer’s growing fields of fibre flax in Ontario. We were once a powerhouse of growing and processing. But that all ended around the 50’s, when the last of the equipment was sold off and shipped away. In Canada, we still have many quality areas for growing bast fibres, but we only grow for the seeds.

I grow my own linen fibres for personal use. I buy linen fibres from Great britain and West Germany, and hemp fibres from Romania and China. After my trip to a hemp farm last weekend, I may finally have a source for some Canadian hemp fibres!

I was a lot of fun to see the farm. They are growing a hybrid plant which should give me decent fibre from the lower half of the stalk. I’m not interested in the main field (most years) of the crop, I want to play around with the marginal growth of shorter plants on the edges. I was far too late for fibre plants this year, coming to visit as I did in August. Lol, so many things to fix/update/change for next year. Even if I find a way to use some of the crop for fibre hemp, the majority of the crop produces a more industrial hemp fibre product, which I also took a sample of.

This industrial fibre product is something I have been looking for, going on 2 years now! I brought my own sample with me, but it came from another part of my network, and isn’t something I can easily repeat, it’s just a nice example of what is possible from industrial hemp products. I finally have my hands on a repeatable product that I can show people.

This year was a really wet year which had been preceeded by a very dry year. I was able to run into the middle of the field and wave back. Normally the hemp would be too dense for me to pull such a trick, and you would not be able to see me. It was pretty neat being able to walk the field.

A little closer so you can see its me!

This is the farm I visited.

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2 Responses to Searching for Canadian Bast Fibre

  1. Peter says:

    Goodmorning, regarding the flax fibre initiative, I’m encouraged to hear it’s being thought of again. FYI there was a government program tried in the Timmins area to grow fibre flax (in the ’80’s I believe) that didn’t pan out. The flax was grown up there, quite successfully it seems, and the harvest was shipped to Quebec for processing. I’m a paper maker and would dearly love a local source for fibre.
    My wife visited your booth this past weekend and thus I got this link. We’re up in Apsley running a country bakery doing sourdough breads.
    Drop by if you are in the area.
    We use hemp seed hearts in one of our breads and source that from a farm just outside Peterborough. Perhaps that would be a source for fibre as well.

    • Thanks to your wife for coming by the booth this weekend! I do have both long line flax (from Great Britain) and long line hemp (from Romania) that are both excellent for papermaking (12-18″ staple length)!

      Do you know the owner of the Peterborough hemp farm? A number of people have mentioned the location to me already. I am working at present with the Quebec farmer owner for bast fibre from this post. He is specifically growing a hybrid fibre and seed plant. I’m not sure what varietal they are growing in Peterborough. I was too late to harvest for fabric fibre this year, I’m hoping for more of a chance next year, but its for the marginal seed product on the field edges. I will try to harvest what best matches my personal flax crop for comparison. Most of the fibre produced from the QC farm is for industrial fibre applications. I only know people who are growing for hemp seed in Canada, I keep looking for anyone growing a fibre varietal.

      I have read about the Quebec flax growing adventure, and I have heard some first hand reports too. More recently when we were visiting family up north, we found they are growing canola in New Liskeard! Flax and Hemp reintroduced would be amazing.

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