$6,000 — Product Expansion for Third Quality Fiber
Two Crows Farm will diversify the application of their least profitable grade of Alpaca fiber to generate marketable products to high-end consumers who focus on trendy, sustainable and locally-sourced products. Usually, third quality fibers are used for novelty products such as bird nests, dryer balls and shoe insoles. Since the third quality fiber is largest yield from annual shearing, the novelty category does not use all of the fiber and does not offer a strong return. Using the fiber for core spun yarn, felted fabric and equestrian saddle pads will maximize the usage and profitability for the least desirable fiber generated on the farm. The grant will pay for the process to turn the fiber into a usable material that can be used to create custom rugs, quilt batting and equestrian accessories.
With a 2017 AgOptions grant, the Hams enlarged their retail showcase from 180 square feet to 520, and included a 330 square feet of covered deck space to provide a demonstration area.
Woody wants to offer a chance for others to connect with the animals. “Our herd is very personable,” she said. “When you have an enriched experience with an animal and have the opportunity to buy clothing or yarn created from that animal, it becomes a personal connection that transcends the farm tour.”
Woody’s career in food service with the beef sales industry has given her skills that are helpful on the farm. She is able to identify variable qualities of fiber available not only from the various animals but from the different grades on each animal. She has developed products to match the unique characteristics of the fiber and has partnered with local artists to manufacture these items from her fiber.
Woody and Mike sell fiber products at their on-farm store, the farmer’s market, the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair and the Mother Earth News Fair. They also breed and sell animals to other growers.