Welcome to Soil to Soil, a podcast connecting the dots in the lifecycle of clothing and material culture, brought to you by Fibershed. Each episode offers a look at how, and why, our community is working to cultivate fiber and dye systems that build soil and protect the health of our biosphere.
Today’s conversation is a crash course in the many people who make it possible for us to wear a wool sweater, knit with a new ball of yarn, or sleep on a wool pillow at night.
Stephany Wilkes joins us to explore the question: who grew our clothes? Stephany is truly a renaissance human who wears so many hats, it’s hard to know where to start to describe her talents and all that she does: Stephany is a certified sheep shearer and wool classer, a writer, a teacher, a former tech industry project manager, and a contributor to many innovative efforts in our regional fiber system here in Northern California. We spoke just as Stephany was launching her new book, Raw Material: Working Wool in the West, about the people and processes that get us dressed but don’t appear on the garment label; about the influence of urban consumers on agricultural communities, and the bright spots that keep her hopeful in this work.
Learn more about Stephany’s work through her website, stephanywilkes.com, which includes information on her book and upcoming events including speaking engagements and readings. Stephany is chair of the Board of the Northern California Fibershed Cooperative, a member-owned collective that operates the Fibershed Marketplace: visit to shop and support producers directly. And follow along on Instagram @ladysheepshearer.
- Vogue magazine article Women of the Wool by Rebecca Bengal with photography by Nich Hance McElroy
- Raw Material: Working Wool in the West by Stephany Wilkes
- The Knitters Book of Wool by Clara Parkes
- Sheep Shearing School through UC Cooperative Extension Mendocino County
- RiverBlue documentary
- The True Cost documentary
- 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, where nearly 1200 worker lives were lost
- Growing Value for Wool Growers: An Economic Feasibility Study and New Business Model – report by Stephany Wilkes as part of Fibershed’s USDA Value Added Products Grant, available as a free download on the Climate Beneficial Wool page
- Contract grazing: watch Fibershed’s short video, Resilience in Practice, on the ecosystem services and economic model
- Didn’t Used to Happen article by Stephany Wilkes
- Mendocino Wool & Fiber Mill
- The Northern California Fibershed Cooperative
- Fibershed Marketplace
- Who Killed the Cone Mills White Oak Plant? by David Shuck for Heddels
This episode is hosted by Jess Daniels, with production support from Whetstone Media and music by Arann Harris. Photo credits: top photo by @GynnaMade (featuring Gynna Made locally grown, handmade socks) portrait by Paige Green, bottom image by Jess Daniels.
Find this show in the iTunes library by searching for “Soil to Soil,” where we invite you to subscribe and leave a review to encourage more listeners to join us. We welcome your questions and feedback directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.