Vibrant Valley Farm is honored to be growing Indigo, Persicaria Tinctoria for the fourth season here on Sauvie Island. We were first introduced to Indigo by ways of Wild Craft Studio and The Museum of Contemporary Craft. The Museum was doing its final exhibit with Rowland Ricketts and were looking for a local farm to grow a plot and study its growing patterns and have a hands on learning environment to explore the subject in depth.Rowland and the MOCC helped us seed, plant and hosted a mini dye workshop using the plants and we were slowly put under the blue spell and started to dig deeper. We harvested the crop twice that first year and dried it in the sun in hopes to traditionally compost it and make a dye material for further use.
The second year we grew far more. We were eager to learn more about the growing patterns, cultivation specifics and use our knowledge and wisdom of farming to understand the Indigo. We plated almost 4,000 plants! We tended to them, harvested over 400 pounds of dried plant material for compost and collaborated with our dear friend Nick Tomasini’s work with soil biology and the birth of, Human Kind Oregon.
Year three of our journey we grew closer to 2,500 plants and focused on digging deep into extracting pigment. We followed Graham Keegan’s step by step guide to aquatic extracting the pigment and have been exploring the art of making our own for the past year. We extracted 14 plant harvests (about 50# of leaf mater) and learned a myriad number of skills while doing so; the science of aeration, calcium content, water and plant balance, heat and environmental influences and teaching. Like many elements of farming every crop is different and as the season progresses the plants change and morph with weather and environmental conditions. Each step of our extraction process taught us more and we were able to use what we learned to gain a deeper and darker pigment.
We are currently planting this seasons crop and will be growing 20,000 plants (almost a half acre) with seeds from Rowland Ricketts Grand Prismatic Seeds and those that we have saved ourselves! , and plan to rearrange our harvest methods and extraction process to create far more pigment and resources for our greater indigo community. We will be teaching classes with Brittney Boles of SeaSpell Fiber, and Scott Sutton the man behind The Pigment Hunter, Wildcraft Studios, and will continue to add classes and dye workshops as the season progresses and the plant grows.
Indigo has been an incredible teacher here on the farm. It provides a artistic space for us to use our skill base as farmers and dive into a market that is very different from vegetables and flowers. We are excited to continue to extract our pigment and share what we can through classes, workshops, art, design and launch a new brand, Sauvie Island Blue!
Stay tuned for more as we keep growing this beautiful plant, dip our fingers into rich vats of homegrown pigment and share our passion with the world.