Organic cotton for Colombia – LA SIESTA celebrates the organic cotton harvest in Colombia

This year LA SIESTA has a special event to celebrate:

The first cotton seedlings appear from under the mulch. Specially in tropical regions it protects soils from dehydrating and promotes the expansion of benefical insects.

Thanks to the commitment of the company’s founder, Alexander Grisar, the first crop of organic cotton ever grown by LA SIESTA itself has now been harvested in Colombia and spun into yarn. This is something we are really happy about, since it signals a further step in the direction of the sustainability of our Colombian hammock production, specifically in regard to our efforts to avoid long transit distances.

A pioneer in matters near to the heart: LA SIESTA and organic cotton

Jens Soth from Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, our international consultant, shows pride in and satisfaction with the thriving cotton bolls.

Already back in 2008, LA SIESTA, still being run by Alexander Grisar at that time, was the first hammock company worldwide to begin to make products out of certified organic cotton. This pioneering in the hammock segment has been continuously expanded: In the meantime around 20% of LA SIESTA’s cotton products are made from certified organic cotton. Further, in 2014 our Colombian organic cotton products received the GOTS seal. The GOTS certification is based on both social and ecological criteria and the seal’s requirements are now considered the most rigorous among all global textile seals.

The SOCiLA initiative

Together, Alexander Grisar and LA SIESTA created the SOCiLA (Support Organic Cotton in Latin America) to promote and support the growing of organic cotton in Latin America. It has been praising and highlighting the merits and opportunities of producing and using organic cotton, it was providing advisory services and has constantly been searching for possibilities of cropping organic cotton in various countries, primarily in Colombia, for almost six years. With Organic Cotton for Colombia, a project initiative of LA SIESTA for growing its own organic cotton in the province of Tolima, SOCiLA’s involvement got, however, a new dimension.

P003

Briefing and discussion in the bamboo house on the Finca of Carlos Brigard, the project’s technical director.

The project: practical approach and conduct

The project was set up with several local partners and a renowned European consultant on four Fincas with a total of 21 hectares of land within a radius of 80 kilometers in southern Tolima. LA SIESTA bore the entire costs of cropping, processing and advising, therewith producing its own cotton and its own yarn.

The project culminated with the harvest. The hoped-for yields have not yet been achieved, but the outcome of the cultivations can be viewed as a valuable experience and should encourage further cropping of organic cotton in the region. Moreover, to encourage this, LA SIESTA took a commitment to buy organic cotton: we undertook to buy up to 50 ton of certified organic cotton per year at pre-established prices for at least 5 years to a group of farmers in formation in southern Tolima.

The separation of the cotton fibre from seeds of the harvested crop (seed cotton) took place in a ginnery located central to the cultivated areas. The cotton fibers extracted there were spun into yarn at a spinning mill in Medellin.

All four fincas and the ginnery got the organic certification seal in accordance with the European (EC 834/2007) and American (USDA/NOP) standards. Moreover we got the GOTS seal for the gining and spinning plants.

Unfortunately, in Colombia the general opinion prevails that certifications are extremely difficult to achieve. With our project we have therefore created a precedence for encouraging farmers and the country’s textile industry and the fashion sector that both organic and GOTS certifications can be achieved, therewith opening Colombian textile products an access to new markets, particularly export markets.

Día de Campo (field day)

Two weeks before the harvest we presented the project to a broad community. We filled up two busses, one starting out from Bogota’s airport and another one in Tolima, and presented the project to interested farmers, representatives from the textiles industry, the fashion sector, interest groups, representatives from the regional and central government and leaders of indigenous groups. The presentation was also attended by different interested parties from abroad (Brazil, Switzerland, Germany and Australia) and the project concept (small brand embarquing on such an initiative bearing all costs and rsiks) and the possibilities to guide Colombia in combinatios with indigenious farming traditions towards more ecological farming, aroused great interest.

P004

A picture at the end of the Día de Campo in at the Finca San Nicolás in El Guamo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organic Cotton for Colombia: benefit for nature & people

In addition to the reduction in transport needs, we visualize that the introduction of organic cotton production in Colombia will contribute to

  • – health protection of the Colombian farmers and their families,
  • – protection and reactivation of soils, this in turn also mitigating erosion,
  • – preserving the biodiversity by counteracting the customary monocultures,
  • – a relief for the surface water and ground water contamination,
  • – new jobs for the region,
  • – opening up of new markets for textile and clothing companies.

We look forward to using the harvest cotton of our project for producing our hammocks, and hope that we can therewith in a tiny scale scale contribute to improving the living and working conditions of the people who are a part of our Colombian hammock production.

There are many ways to sit in a hammock. How many of them do you know?

Comments

comments