Flax is a plant steeped in history, a natural and sustainable fibre that reaches far back into the past but looks to the future with confidence. All the flax grown at the Mallon farm in Northern Ireland has been harvested by hand, picked and processed using traditional methods. Chemicals are unnecessary for this crop when a little time and effort are invested. Rainwater and springwater are collected for retting. We have repurposed an old cheese vat into a retting tank, which fills with rainwater and prepares the fibre for scutching. In the past, flax dams were known to have caused damage to streams so it was important to find an alternative method for this stage of the process. A long term plan, the farm will slowly turn to a seven year rotation of potatoes, flax, oats and grass. Planting potatoes before the flax leaves the soil in wonderful condition. Our aims are to restore the soil, protect the water and support wildlife. The farm is proud to be part of the Nature Friendly Farming Network, a community of farmers dedicated to sustainable farming and environmental protection.
The flax is usually sown in May and after 100 days the crop should be ready for harvest. We plant a variety of heritage flax seeds from Irish Seedsavers. This is a busy, exciting and fun filled time at the farm as friends and family come to help, pulling the flax by hand, tying into bundles and stacking these around the farm to dry. There is plenty of chat, laughter and there is always a pot freshly dug potatoes on the go.
As well as producing textiles, flax can also used for other products such as our Beeswax and Linseed polish made from wax from our own beehives and seeds from our flax crop.