Cotton Project Tour
Lucy & Mei.com joined over 100 representatives
from major textile and apparel retail companies from across
States on a tour of California's Central Valley Cotton
Farms. The Tour was facilitated by the Sustainable Cotton Project
staff members and local farmers who are involved in the
The Sustainable Cotton Project is a program dedicated to
assist conventional farmers in transitioning to more biological
practices. SCP's mission is to reduce toxicity in cotton
cultivation and support family farmers, seeking to maintain viable,
rural communities. The growers involved in the project
are taking action to change the way cotton is farmed and marketed,
producing high-quality cotton by reducing their usage of
most toxic pesticides and herbicides.
One of the sustainable methods farmers are using to reduce
the use of toxic pesticides is to plant perennial hedgerows
surrounding the farm fields. Hedgerows are rows of trees, shrubs,
perennial grasses that provide a nesting area for beneficial
insects and help protect the land from soil erosion.
This hedgerow has rosemary, oaks, pines, coffee berry, yarrow,
and coyote bush. It is planted along the cotton fields of Windfall
Farms of the Central Valley. The farmers shared with us how
tenuous farming can be, last year they lost an entire field
of organic cotton to a white fly infestation. Cotton farmers
in the California have struggled with transitioning to organic
farming due to many factors including, draught, lower yield
per acre, significant global economic hardship during the last
three years, pest management difficulties, and lack of market
support for the cost of organic cotton.
We had time to explore the Pima cotton fields which were ready
to be harvested. The group enjoyed picking the cotton and walking
through the fields.
The growers at Windfall Farms have grown a few acres of colored
cotton of brown and green which produced beautiful color variations.
Growing colored cotton is being explored as a replacement for
conventional methods which use bleaching and dying with toxic
When the cotton fields are ready to be harvested, large tractors
pull the locks of cotton from the plant before loading them
into modules for transport (see modules below).
The modules are transported to the gin where the seeds are
separated from the cotton fiber. The seeds are used in three
ways: feed for livestock, cottonseed oil (used in potato chips
and other snack foods), and also for planting next year's harvest.
As a result of the Sustainable Cotton Project,
there has been a reduction in the use of chlorpyrifos (SCP
growers use up
to 76% less), participating farmers seek to eliminate the
use of 13 of the most harmful chemicals used in conventional
farming, and growers have produced more than 1 million pounds
of SCP's trademarked "Cleaner Cotton" over the
past 6 years.
For more information, please visit: http://www.sustainablecotton.org
Submitted by Lucyandmei.com