P.O. Box 185
Big Rock, Illinois 60511

The Illinois Green Pastures Fiber Cooperative is an ever-growing group of enthusiastic and dedicated producers working together to develop an identity and market for Illinois fiber in the domestic and international fiber arts market. This agricultural co-op, currently representing 31 member farms, strives to establish the opportunity for consumers and others to become aware of their members products and the sustainability of the rural life and economy.

How long has the co-op been in existence?
The co-op was formed in July 2006 to aid producers in developing their wool management and marketing abilities and to introduce Illinois wool to the domestic and international fiber arts market. We wanted to build awareness of Illinois-produced fiber products and showcase this raw agriculture product to fiber artists, galleries, museums, and crafters throughout the area.

Who works on the respective member farms?
All co-op farms are family-run businesses; everyone pitches in, from children as young as 3 years old to our senior members, some who are well into their 80s. We have seasoned members whose families have been farming for three generations as well as newcomers whove been working on farms for less than a year.

What do you produce?
We produce fiber that comes from the wool of all types of sheep, including cheviot, cormo, merino, shetland, romney, Navajo churro, and dorset, as well as from alpacas, llamas, and angora rabbits. All our fiber comes from animals raised by the co-op producers.

Where do you sell your products?
Esthers Place, a Fiber Arts Studio in Big Rock, Illinois, carries not only our yarns but also distinctive products such as American-crafted spinning wheels, looms, and needles, and unique gifts. Consumers and retailers can also order online at www.esthersplacefibers.com/products.cfm.

What is your growing philosophy?
Although our fiber is not certified organic, creating all naturally produced fibers is a priority for the members of our farm co-op.

What is your favorite part of being a natural fiber producer?
Working with the animals creates a special connection between the farmer and the fiber.

Why should people buy natural fiber products rather than other options?
By purchasing natural fiber products, people are supporting sustainable fiber operations in Illinois and allowing farmers to continue to produce fiber in a humane manner while maintaining ecological balance.

What makes your co-op special?
The consumer is given the opportunity to get to know the farmers and the fibers they produce on a personal level. Members of the co-op are mindful custodians of Illinoiss rich history in raising sheep and shearing the wool. Links to the past can be found in the centuries-old family farms of the Getzelman, Gustafson, Ogle, and Burnidge families, while recent devotees have relocated from Chicago, Evanston, and even the highlands of southern Poland to share their passion for raising sheep and producing high-quality fiber.

What is your growing philosophy?
Although our fiber is not certified organic, creating all naturally produced fibers is a priority for the members of our farm co-op.

What do you envision for the future of your co-op?
Wed like to see our cooperative grow and continue to provide all-natural fibers and finished products that represent the Illinois Green Pastures Fiber Collection.

Updated 12/3/2007