Natural Dye Garden's First Harvest Yields a Bumper Crop
The natural dye garden we planted earlier this year has yielded its first harvest of indigo leaves! Staff from Praxis Fiber Workshop led Hospice of the Western Reserve staff and volunteers and campers from Waterloo Arts' summer camp in the first harvest.
The dried leaves laying on tarps may not look like much now, but in a few months they'll create the dye Praxis uses in its community art, outreach and education projects. Indigo's distinct blue dye is made from the dried and fermented indigo leaves.
First, the plants were cut and picked back, next the leaves had to dry in the sun for just over a full day. From there, the dried leaves are separated from the stems and crushed to be fermented into indigo dye. Believe it or not, the best and most efficient way to collect and process the dried leaves is by stomping them through wire mesh. This not only crushes the leaves, it also makes it easier to collect and remove the stems.
The Praxis team will combine leaves collected from our garden and mix them with harvests from their other community plot. To make the dye, they compost the leaf pulp with fructose and water for just over three months. Once that process is complete they'll have enough dye to support their community projects. Last year they collected more than 100 pounds of leaves from their only site, which created enough dye to host 10 community workshops. They're confident that adding two – and possibly three – harvests from our garden will easily help them exceed that amount this year.
Click here to learn more about Praxis Fiber Workshop, what they do with their indigo projects.