Updated: Nov 9, 2021
Meet Anna Hunter formerly of Baad Anna’s, the famed Hastings-Sunrise East Van neighbourhood wool shop. Anna is woman with a passion for building community, challenging injustice, and creating alternatives.
These days she runs Long Way Homestead, a Manitoba-based farm with a difference. Here Anna seeks to educate and engage as well as connect people with local food and clothing production. The homestead features a field school with classes dedicated to fibre farming classes, textile processing classes, natural dye system classes, and textile design. It also holds a critical issue speaker series. There’s a sheep sponsorship program as well as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) system which allows fibre lovers to purchase wool the way many of us now enjoy getting our veggies—directly from the farm.
In addition the homestead features a wool mill.
We recently interviewed Anna about life on her homestead. Here’s what she had to say.
Where did you get the idea for the field school?
School emerged out of the desire to transfer knowledge that we’ve gained on the farm to those that are also interested in regenerative textile production, and the constant requests we receive for interns or apprentices. Fibre farming and textile processing (milling) is still quite a niche industry, and often the strategies that work best on large conventional farms aren’t the best practices for fibre farms. Also, there is nowhere in the country where individuals can get immersive training on the manufacturing of raw wool —but there is increasing interest in these things. We want to build a place where we can train and grow the next generation of textile makers. With a focus on the soil-to-soil model of textile production.
The workshops available at the farm are very unique. Can you tell me about one that you feel would be particularly helpful for felters?
I think that no matter what our specific fibre practices are we can gain understanding of the wool industry as a whole —the true cost of wool is an all around look at the way our wool is grown and processed. The breed specific knitting workshop actually discusses the different fibres that are best for felting. The natural dye workshops are also transferable to any medium.
What do fibre artists need to know about wool advocacy and the small wool industry?
I believe it’s important to talk about the ‘true cost’ of our wool as fibre artists because often those retail costs we are paying does not reflect the actual cost of producing that fibre. This means that someone else is covering those costs, and more often than not it’s the farmers, the factory workers, and ultimately the environment that is paying the price. We can build a local, resilient fibreshed that prioritizes fair wages, sustainable farming and manufacturing and prioritizes community over shareholders. But as consumers we need to seek out a more traceable and local wool product.
Your farm produces beautiful fibre products. What are some favourites with felt artists?
The Rambouillet roving and batting is a MUST for felters. It is beautiful and lovely and really felts like a dream. I often have breed-specific fibre available as well, and the fine wools are excellent for felters, corriedale, polypay, shetland and others! For local felters my ‘mill end’ bags are a big hit —it’s all the tiny bits of fibre left over from the mill that don’t get used in spinning. I sell them in 2 oz. bags and they are a mix of fibres and colours —perfect for needle felting projects.
Thank you Anna for taking the time to chat with us.
Follow the homestead on instagram@longwayhomestead or check out their website www.longwayhomestead.com