Given the growth of Maine’s fiber industry, University of Maine Cooperative Extension has been working to equip the state’s sheep, fiber goat, and camelid producers with the skills and knowledge to improve production, handling, and marketing of high quality fiber and fiber products.
UMaine Extension is also participating in several fiber-related events in advance of its statewide Focus on Fiber seminar, which will be held next month at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield. The pre-seminar events will help farmers learn about value-added processes and end products that can be produced from a herd or flock of sheep, alpacas, llamas, and fiber goats.
The next fiber event will be a fleece sale and show at the Common Ground Fair, which opens Friday, Sept. 21 in Unity. Other events leading up to Focus on Fiber include:
- Sept. 29-30: National Alpaca Open Farm Weekend, at alpaca farms throughout the state. Farms are open to the public. Mainealpacafarms.com.
- Oct. 6: Friends’ Folly Farm, 319 Norris Hill Road, Monmouth. Tour of mill facility, raw fiber to finished products and meet angora goats, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friendsfollyfarm.com.
- Oct. 13: Wrinkle in Thyme Farm, 106 Black Mountain Road, Sumner. Learn about farm-based CSAs, self-serve fiber processing and finished products.
- Oct. 20: NEWAIM Farm & Fiber Mill, 13 Robinson Road, Waldoboro. Tour the mill facility and see all the steps from raw fiber to yarn, including a solar system for heating water and CVM Romeldale sheep. newaimfibermill.com/index.shtml
Focus on Fiber, set for Oct. 27, is a daylong event that will include presentations, panel discussions, and demonstrations to be led by experienced farmers, scientists, processors, fiber judges and graders, consumers, and financial analysts from around the state. Topics include the basics of sheep, goat, and camelid fiber; management and genetics to improve fleece quality and quantity; preparing fleece for sale, shows and processing; primary fleece markets; and marketing and value-added processes.
Four fiber farmers located in different regions of Maine are available for interviews and comment about the growth of the industry and how UMaine Extension has assisted their efforts. The farmers are: