Cotton that grows in color – that clearly sounds a bit like a fairy tale. The small but subtle difference: fairy tales are in most cases fictions, but the colored cotton really exists! It is mainly thanks to the ingenuity and curiosity of Sally Fox that we have access to it today. Born and raised in the Bay Area in California, Fox, who is now in her early 60s, ended up working for a Californian cotton grower while looking for a job in the 1980s, where she first pollinated cotton plants by hand.
One day she came across a bag of brown cotton seeds and tried to persuade her boss at the time to improve the fiber – that is, to make it more resistant so that it can be spun better. This proposal was not too well received because there was simply no demand and therefore no market for colored cotton. But Fox did not want to be put off by this and in a nutshell set about crossing the seeds with other cotton seeds that were already long-stapled, robust and high-yielding – without using GMO-seeds of course!
Sally Fox, who was working as an entomologist at the time and had to use the weekends to pursue her passion, had done it after a few years: In addition to brown cotton, she had also found a green variant over time, growing it so robustly that it was spinnable on machines, too. She then quit her job and, with the support of her family, set about building her first farm. After a stopover in Arizona in the 1990s, which Fox was forced to do due to a fear of cross-pollination of white cotton due to a ban on colored cotton, she returned to California.
The reason was – what an irony of fate – the same. Cotton farmers in Arizona, whose profits were already threatened by a shift in the cotton market to India and China, were now again afraid that their white cotton plants could be crosspollinated and lose their value. Sally Fox has had her farm northwest of Sacramento, in the Capay Valley, since 1998. Her company Foxfibre® breeds cotton in natural colors, which is not only very resistant, but also has the peculiarity that the color comes out more and more with multiple washes instead of fading. In addition, a special wheat is grown on the farm, the powerful roots of which naturally prepare the soil.
And Sally Fox also lives her dream of biodynamic agriculture here: The sheep she keeps on her farm feed on stubble and give the soil important microbes, which in turn are good for the cotton. Sally Fox doesn't think about quitting. She would like to continue researching and trying out and expand the color spectrum. She gets support from spinning mills and public seed banks, who keep giving her new seeds that Fox can experiment with. Their drive and uncompromising belief in the cause are really impressive – and so we are happy to be able to pass on a tiny bit of this pioneering work to you by offering an new quality that uses her colored cotton, our lovely Renforcé!