In early 2012 I launched my new business, Southern Hues. Our mission is to increase the sustainability and resilience of agricultural systems in the Southeastern US by helping women and beginning farmers diversify into natural dye crops. Southern Hues supports the next generation of land stewards and caretakers of the soil by lowering the barriers to entry into the value-added alternative crop market. Through our beautiful product line, we engage a broad range of consumers in support of a sustainable agrarian economy and restoration of our earth. From shawls to naturally dyed fabrics, we are making healthier products available to our customers while providing small farmers with a living wage.
No colors on earth surpass natural dyes in their beauty and life-affirming nature, so the were a clearly superior choice to synthetic fabrics and chemical dyes for our product line. For farmers, natural dye plants have great potential as an alternative industrial crop to improve crop diversity, wildlife and beneficial insect habitats, and to minimize fertilizer and pesticide use on farms. The beauty and colors these plants produce can translate into increase revenue for the farmer, and therefore more money flowing back into rural economies. We are all hungry for beautiful and useful products that connect us to a purpose and to planet. By supporting Southern Hues, our customers know they are supporting a supply chain that provides women and beginning farmers with a living wage for growing crops that make their farms more sustainable while improving the ecological resilience of our landscape.
Prior to launching Southern Hues with the support of Wild Gift, I was co-owner of Artisan Natural Dyeworks, an eco-dye facility located in Nashville, TN. Artisan Natural Dyeworks specializes in the use of all-natural plant- and earth-based dyes to dye garments, piece goods and production yardage. It is one of the only U.S. based companies to provide natural dye services at a scale suitable for independent designers. Artisan Natural Dyeworks is currently being run by my co-founder while I focus on building Southern Hues. In addition to my work with Artisan Natural Dyeworks, I was a co-founder of Nashville Urban Harvest, a non-profit focused on promoting sustainable agriculture and increasing food security in Middle Tennessee. Through creation and stewardship of an urban community farm and a producer of the only farmers' market in downtown Nashville, we created dialogue and on the ground partnerships promoting economically and environmentally viable farming systems and market outlets. After farming on rented land for the past four years, in 2011 I started my own farm in Whites Creek, TN, where I help a bee hive flourish, have chickens and a vermiculture system, and am waiting to see what the season brings. I regularly blog about life on four acres at interdependencefarm.com
Before moving to Tennessee, I worked at the Investor Responsibility Research Center as a research analyst on the food and agriculture industries. I also interned in the Sustainable Enterprise Program at the World Resources Institute, researching business and biotechnology. While an undergraduate in Natural Resources Policy and Management at Cornell University (BS, 2004), I managed the student run organic farm and led an elementary school tutoring program through an Americorps grant. I am a member of the inaugural Fellowship class for the Southeast region of the Environmental Leadership Program and currently a Senior Fellow. I am very excited to have been a part of the Wild Gift Class of 2011 and one of the 2012 Wild Gift grantees.