We had been working with Kingston farm on the production of ‘single-source’ wool since 2015. We create these beautiful single-source suits using wool only from Kingston, which is considered world-class in quality and consistency. This single-s ource wool is woven by centuries-old Italian weaver Vitale Barberis Canonico into elegant worsted cloth. As part of our arrangement with Simon, we purchase the wool up front, then return a percentage of every Kingston sale to the farm. Simon then reinvests this customer ‘dividend’ into projects that revitalise the natural values of the land and the local biodiversity of the threatened flora and fauna. It’s what we like to think of as a ‘win-win’.
In 2020 Simon agreed to trial 48 Kingston ewes, feeding them asparagopsis seaweed for 300 days straight. It was no easy task, getting up every morning in the cold Tasmanian winters to mix the seaweed and barley, then feeding it to the hungry Merinos (they actually loved the extra feed) in the paddocks. But Simon, being the incredible human being that he is, did it without a complaint. As a result we had 105kg of this world-first ‘Zero-Emission Wool’, and even got mentions in the Wall-Street Journal and on Channel 9 news. The University of Tasmania monitored the trial, here are their summarised findings.
The journey of turning the wool into a suit is a long one, starting from the waters of Triabunna, Tasmania (Sea Forest) to the northern Midlands (Kingston farm) and then across the oceans to Biella, Italy (VBC). We are currently working on new initiatives to reduce the emissions related to the global journey of the wool, but in the meantime we completely offset the entire journey footprint by investing in green projects, like the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor in southwest Australia.
The effort involved in this project, an investment of time, money, blood, sweat and tears, is one we are excited to be undertaking. Because when you are on the ground here at Kingston, at the very origin of something bigger than yourself, you forget the length of the journey, the challenges that lay ahead and even the ultimate outcome. You find yourself immersed in the moment.
Last week I found myself standing between Kingston’s homestead and shearing shed looking down at my gumboots as they squished in the muddy soil. I removed the hood of the rain jacket lent to me by Simon as the rain poured over the land. I let the droplets fall down my glasses, wanting to let the senses take in everything around me: the grasslands, the smell of fresh, clean air, the coolness of the rain. It was a moment I gifted to myself. I just wanted to be still in the moment that I had wished for, ever since I started as sustainability manager at M.J. Bale.
The air hits different here, and when I breathed in it filled my lungs in an indescribable way, as if I was breathing in the possibility of the future. For us, Kingston, single-source wool, the concept of regeneration and projects like Zero-Emission Wool are the future for M.J. Bale. As a result, they hopefully deliver a touchstone for the wool industry and deliver net benefit results to the environment.