The Secret Properties of Linen: Regenerative Design for the Kitchen with Heidi Barr

Full Transcript

Heidi Barr: [00:00:00] People with similar earning potential to mine say, "but I need the cheap thing because otherwise, I can't afford it." And I say yes and no because that cheap thing is keeping you poor.

[00:00:19] Emma Kingsley: [00:00:19] You're listening to The Good Dirt Podcast. This is a place where we dig into the nitty-gritty of sustainable living through food, fashion, and lifestyle. 

[00:00:28] Mary Kingsley: [00:00:28] And we are your hosts, Mary and Emma Kingsley, the mother and daughter founder team of Lady Farmer. We are sowing seeds of slow living through our community platform events and online marketplace.

[00:00:40] Emma Kingsley: [00:00:40] We started this podcast as a means to share the wealth of information and quality conversations that we're having in our world, as we dream up and deliver ways for each of us to live into the new paradigm. One that is regenerative balanced and whole. 

[00:00:56] Mary Kingsley: [00:00:56] We want to put the microphone in front of the voices that need to be heard the most right now. The farmers, the dreamers, the designers, and the doers.

[00:01:04] Emma Kingsley: [00:01:04] So come cultivate a better world with us. We're so glad you're here. Now, let's dig in.

[00:01:16] Mary Kingsley: [00:01:16] Hi, Emma. 

[00:01:17] Emma Kingsley: [00:01:17] Hi, Mom. Do you want to talk about some of our plastic free July fails for the week? 

[00:01:23] Mary Kingsley: [00:01:23] Yeah, I think we should. 

[00:01:25] Emma Kingsley: [00:01:25] Yeah. We had lunch together last week, and we were out, and we ate lunch at a place. We sat there and ate it outside, and I had brought my coffee cup for iced coffee. And I ordered iced coffee, and I said "Can you put it in this cup?" 

[00:01:41] And I wasn't sure if they were going to do that because, you know, during the pandemic, they hadn't been doing that, but they gladly filled my cup with ice coffee, and that was lovely. And then when the food came out, they also brought out a plastic cup of ice coffee. I think whoever had put in the order, you know, just put in the order, and then someone else filled it. So, we ended up with two coffees, but one of them was in a plastic cup. So it's like, even if you really, really try, sometimes you just, you just get handed plastic anyways. 

[00:02:11] Mary Kingsley: [00:02:11] Yeah and the food was all in supposedly compostable containers and even the utensils had "compostable" printed on them. So I was thinking, okay, but then when we were done and had gathered up everything to take inside, so we could compost the compostables, the girl inside said, oh, just put those out there in the recycling bin.

[00:02:37] Emma Kingsley: [00:02:37] Yeah, and then the recycling bin was really just a trashcan, even though it was blue. It was very confusing. 

[00:02:45] Mary Kingsley: [00:02:45] Yeah. So basically what we'd just done was have an entire meal using single-use containers, cups, and utensils. And I call that a plastic-free July fail. 

[00:02:59] Emma Kingsley: [00:02:59] Yeah, it was not plastic-free. I think a common misconception is that if the stuff says compostable, then people think it will break down in the trash. But as we know from our conversation with Lauren, from WorldCentric, a couple of episodes ago, that is not true. Those items have to go through a very specific process to break down. And the way the system is set up currently is that the consumer is responsible for having it separated and sent to the right facility, or it becomes trash.

[00:03:33] And what we talk about in that episode is in that moment, when you are a consumer who has a pile of compostable things in front of you, and you want to do the right thing with them, but there is nothing to do with that thing. It makes it really hard. So... 

[00:03:50] Mary Kingsley: [00:03:50] Yeah. 

[00:03:50] Emma Kingsley: [00:03:50] We're hoping that there will be some more top-down change there, so it's not all on the shoulders of the person at the end of the chain to deal with it. 

[00:04:03] Mary Kingsley: [00:04:03] Right, and in a situation like that, where, you know, if we really wanted to absolutely not eat plastic, then we wouldn't be able to eat there. And that, you know, we don't want to go there. I wonder how many restaurant owners and employees actually realize this about the compostables.

[00:04:22] They probably spend extra money on the compostable, and it ends up being a waste, literally a waste. So anyway, that's our not very fun story about how even when you were really trying, sometimes you can't get around it. But as always, it's a good learning, it's eye-opening, it helps you decide, you know, what you're going to do, and what your choices are going to be in the future.

[00:04:49] Emma Kingsley: [00:04:49] Yeah, and also, I don't even think it's the, well, I guess, partial responsibility to the restaurant owners who get the compostable things that they know that they have a way to deal with it, but I really actually want to put the responsibility above them, to the people who are selling these compostable products.

[00:05:08] I'm sure that they say, and everyone knows these need to be composted in a composting facility, but where is that checkmark that's actually making sure that that's happening? So, I don't think it exists, and I think that it's just, you're right, Mom, people the restaurants are probably spending more money on something that says compostable, cause it just makes everyone feel better. 

[00:05:30] Mary Kingsley: [00:05:30] Yeah. 

[00:05:31] Emma Kingsley: [00:05:31] When really it's not doing anything. So I think it's a very sneaky Greenwashing that we are all subject to. 

[00:05:39] Mary Kingsley: [00:05:39] I guess the good news is that the technology is there. It just needs to be refined - the systems and the processes down the line. So, I guess that's a start, and there is beginning to be some consciousness out there, you know, consumers thinking, oh, well this is a good thing compostable, but everybody across the board needs to know that these things don't compost in the trash. They need oxygen. Landfills are infamously packed, and it's not the right circumstances for these things to go away, even though we would like to think they do, but they don't. 

[00:06:16] Emma Kingsley: [00:06:16] Yeah, well that is a problem to be solved another day. We can't solve it here. Just sharing our own struggles with this, but moving forward, today, it all really ties in nicely with today's episode, our conversation with Heidi Barr of Kitchen Garden Textiles, and this conversation was so fun because it was a nice pivot from problems to solutions.

[00:06:40] Mary Kingsley: [00:06:40] Yes, Kitchen Garden Textiles grew from Heidi's desire to make sustainable textiles more accessible, and to help all of us with our zero waste kitchen goals.

[00:06:51] Emma Kingsley: [00:06:51] Heidi makes all of the textiles in her studio in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia with organic hundred percent natural linen reducing reliance on single-use and plastic disposables with elegant linen products for gathering, storing, preparing, and serving food.

[00:07:09] Mary Kingsley: [00:07:09] And guess what? I got my order from them this week, and I made the coffee this morning with the linen cone filter, and I love it. And especially no more tossing the paper ones. It's great. 

[00:07:22] Emma Kingsley: [00:07:22] I can't wait to try the bread bags that she talks about. 

[00:07:25] Mary Kingsley: [00:07:25] And a portion of their profits go to regenerative farms to help reestablish a regenerative regional textile supply. And they've got their own flax to linen production project going in Pennsylvania, which we'll touch on today. But we look forward to talking about that more in-depth in a future episode.

[00:07:46] Emma Kingsley: [00:07:46] We really enjoyed this lively discussion with Heidi. She's inspirational and we hope you enjoyed it as well.

[00:07:54] Mary Kingsley: [00:07:54] Hi, Heidi. Thank you for joining us here today. We'll get started here by having you tell us something of your story, and how you got to where you are today. 

[00:08:06] Emma Kingsley: [00:08:06] Yeah, and what is a Kitchen Garden Series? 

[00:08:07] Mary Kingsley: [00:08:07] Yes. 

[00:08:09] Heidi Barr: [00:08:09] Great. So the Kitchen Garden Series in five days is becoming Kitchen Garden Textiles. I'm changing my business name, which has been a long time coming but feels all of a sudden to me, and I will also have a beautiful new website.

[00:08:24] Um, this is kind of a great moment to sort of talk about how I got where I am in. I like to say in some ways it's like a really long convoluted story, and in other ways, it all makes perfect sense. I grew up in Oregon in the seventies, and I from the beginning was an environmentalist because that was the first wave environmental movement was so strong there.

[00:08:46] So everything I've done has always had this sort of environmental thread to it. And I also grew up next door to a woman who took in monograms for a living. And I learned to sew from her, and she was one of my favorite people in the world. So I've always had this really sweet spot for the needlecrafts. One of my happy places. 

[00:09:10] You know, and then I became a dancer. So I had this whole first career in dance. That's all my formal training is in dance. I like to tell people, you know, dance is a visual art. It is about designing the space the same way that designing textiles is, and it's also about the functionality of design. That sort of being able to do something complicated and clearly communicate it. And I feel like that is what Kitchen Garden Textiles are. 

[00:09:36] They are an expression of a very complex idea in the simplest most accessible form I can make them. And then I also, my mother comes from a family of farmers, so I have this familial history of agriculture that's just in my blood. 

[00:09:51] And when I moved to Philadelphia, I was no longer dancing. I had started costume designing. So I had sort of wed those two interests, right. Dance and sewing. And I got really disillusioned with the amount of waste that is produced in costuming. You put a lot of effort into making something that is used for sometimes only a weekend, and then it's stored indefinitely.

[00:10:16] And at about that same time, I moved to the neighborhood I'm in, which is two miles away from an urban farm with a CSA, and I became a working shareholder on that farm. And I just thought, "there must be some way that my skill as a textile designer can support this incredible movement of growing food in the city and feeding my community."

[00:10:39] And that's where the idea for Kitchen Garden Textiles came from. I've just run with it since then. I've just basically unspooled the thread and just followed my curiosity about every aspect of the business. And that's how I got here. 

[00:10:55] Emma Kingsley: [00:10:55] Yeah, that's wonderful. Also, if anyone is a regular listener of The Good Dirt, you've heard this many times. We have this connection with so many guests, but I'm also a dancer. So many people that we've brought on are dancers. That's so funny. 

[00:11:07] Mary Kingsley: [00:11:07] Yeah. 

[00:11:09] Emma Kingsley: [00:11:09] I love it.

[00:11:10] Heidi Barr: [00:11:10] I think dance actually prepares us for many things in life 

[00:11:13] Emma Kingsley: [00:11:13] Yeah, and it's like, it takes a sensitive empath, all these things that I think also aligned with like environmentalist, like people who care about the environment. Dance - there is a lot of overlap.

[00:11:23] Mary Kingsley: [00:11:23] It's probably an Enneagram type or something. 

[00:11:25] Emma Kingsley: [00:11:25] Yeah. 

[00:11:27] Mary Kingsley: [00:11:27] So there were so many Lady Farmer tie-ins, you know, the handwork, the textiles, the farming, this CSA investment, the wanting to know where your food comes from. All those things so... 

[00:11:42] Emma Kingsley: [00:11:42] And wanting to recognize what your current gifts are, and how you can serve the community and the way that it's serving you. That's so beautiful. 

[00:11:50] And also, we love the whole topic of the urban farm too. Like, you know, we tell our Lady Farmers, "you don't have to live on a farm." You can do a lot with a window sill. 

[00:12:00] Heidi Barr: [00:12:00] You can. It's really optimistic to me what a really strong, um, network of urban growers exists in Philadelphia. Like there are growers who have been growing for decades in the city, just on vacant lots. 

[00:12:17] You know, and they start growing because they need food, right? It's the simplest human need. And they're just like vacant lots that have gorgeous soil on them because there have been decades of not defined as, but definitely organic agriculture, right? Just traditional agricultural methods that all different cultures, like Philly, is such a diverse city. So there are all these different cultures that are just growing food because they need it. 

[00:12:45] And there's a lot of vacant land in Philadelphia, sort of a, both a positive and a negative. It's a result of being one of the poorest big cities in the country that there's just a lot of dilapidated buildings that have been knocked down, and so they're just vacant lots. But people have just in this really beautiful, resilient way, you know, taken over that space to feed themselves and to feed their families. And it was really exciting for me to discover here. 

[00:13:11] Emma Kingsley: [00:13:11] What is Kitchen Garden Textiles?

[00:13:14] Heidi Barr: [00:13:14] It's my environmental project. It's interesting because Kitchen Garden Textiles is definitely more than one thing.

[00:13:21] It is, on its surface, it is a line of textiles that are ethically manufactured in Pennsylvania and designed to replace single-use and plastic disposables in home kitchens and in restaurants. Right? So it's linen textiles designed to be used directly with food. Whether that's serving it, storing it, preparing it, growing it, they're all things for the kitchen and the garden.

[00:13:50] So on its surface, and when you land on the website, that's what you see pictures of, or if you scratch the surface, you'll see that really, it's an idea. It's this idea that food storage and preparation can be moved out of the carbon cycle. It doesn't have to be petroleum-based. It doesn't have to involve plastics and synthetic fabrics.

[00:14:16] It doesn't have to involve much garbage, although there's a lot of compost there, and that it also can be a crop. Like, so all of my textiles are plant-based textiles like 99% is linen. The rest is reclaimed cotton, but the textiles and agriculture weren't separate until fairly recent human history. And that separation has been catastrophic. 

[00:14:43] So the Kitchen Garden Textiles is this idea that you can reconnect textiles to the kitchen in a more quotidian way, in a more functional way. And that you can take textile production out of an oil well, and back into a diversified, sustainable regenerative farming system 

[00:15:05] Mary Kingsley: [00:15:05] Early on one of our early Lady Farmer messages, and still one of our messages, is that clothing is an agricultural product. And people will go, "whoa, yeah, never thought of it that way" and so, yeah, well, unless it comes from a, you know, an animal like wool or alpaca or whatever, it comes from a plant. 

[00:15:22] Emma Kingsley: [00:15:22] And then you can think about it kind of like those sheep and alpaca are, what are they? What's nourishing them? Plants. 

[00:15:29] Mary Kingsley: [00:15:29] Yeah. 

[00:15:29] Emma Kingsley: [00:15:29] It's all growing from the earth. 

[00:15:31] Mary Kingsley: [00:15:31] So yeah, it's really, uh, a concept that takes you way deeper down. 

[00:15:37] Emma Kingsley: [00:15:37] I really appreciate as someone else who's working to move this idea out into the world, I think it's really smart and interesting. I don't know if you do this on purpose, but like you said, it kind of makes sense. So it probably wasn't a purpose, but it makes total sense that you are so focused on the kitchen and the food aspect of it. Because from our perspective, we talk mostly about clothing, and we started as a sustainable apparel company, but it's so hard to talk about one thing without talking about everything else. 

[00:16:05] But it's, so I think it's like really clear and digestible for lack of a better word, to just like really focus on the food and the kitchen and that relationship with textiles. It's super cool. And food storage is something that we talk about all the time. At least personally, I don't know how much we've talked about it on here, but it's such a big, big thing. 

[00:16:25] Mary Kingsley: [00:16:25] So hijacked by the petroleum industry and it's kind of a joke in my marriage. We don't agree on food storage techniques. And, uh, you know, we both kind of grew up in the sixties and seventies back when, you know, plastic was king, you know, to put your food away. And so there's a lot of unlearning there. 

[00:16:47] So I want to read something from your blog that really jumped out to me, and that I think is really cool. You said the systems for getting textiles into our hands can be systems of renewal or systems of destruction. I want to build a business community that works to make renewal the norm. 

[00:17:07] You know, I love that because you are turning the dial a little bit. I think in the past generation, convenience has been the norm. If we can just shift that to where people are willing to look at all this a little bit differently, this is not the most convenient, but it is about renewal.

[00:17:28] So I thought you might want to talk about that a little bit. 

[00:17:32] Heidi Barr: [00:17:32] Yeah, that's so interesting. Well, it's urgent. There's an urgent need to make renewal the norm. And renewal is the norm within like all of the systems of nature, within ecosystems. And it's urgent that we begin to understand as humans that we are part of those ecosystems and not apart from them.

[00:17:56] Extractive systems are finite. Right? You can only extract so much before it's gone, so just sort of working to shift the way of thinking. And for me, like, this process, it really started in a big way when I started this business, which I'm entering my ninth year of business now. So I wasn't doing all of these things in your one, right?

[00:18:20] I was making napkins out of the backs of shirts to support a farm in year one. It was really that simple. And now, I think about renewal, not only in terms of the products that I'm using but in terms of the way I conduct business, how people are paid, what my profit margins are, the longevity and the business end of it, as well as the products. And I look to sort of the systems of nature to inform that. 

[00:18:51] And I think that I know that I'm really fortunate to be part of the business community of people who are thinking the same way in fashion and in food. Even in other house goods, and it's a systemic change that we're working for. So it's big, and sometimes it's overwhelming, but it's also, there is a lot of beauty in it.

[00:19:17] I know in my own home, over the past nine years as I've made the shift to only bringing things in that come from systems of renewal. So I try to only bring in sustainable, regenerative. I know most of the people that produce most of the things I bring into my home. Not a hundred percent. I don't want to sit here and say, I'm perfect. I'm definitely not perfect. But as I start making that change, my quality of life is better. Things taste better. Things feel better. I have a fondness for the things in my life because they're connected to people. 

[00:19:56] And that's what that looks like. That's what that can look like. And my work here is done if I've convinced people that it can look like that, right? Because it also looks like cleaner air and cleaner water and continued life on the planet. 

[00:20:10] Mary Kingsley: [00:20:10] But I think when we go there, you know, people, they get desensitized to like, oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Clean air, clean water, blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately. But I like your reframing of the issue. Instead of saying stop using plastic. Plastic is so bad. You've said choose products that are regenerative, that stand for renewal, that support renewal. 

[00:20:39] And I really love what you said. I don't know if these are your exact words, but renewal is the norm in nature. 

[00:20:47] Heidi Barr: [00:20:47] It is. 

[00:20:48] Mary Kingsley: [00:20:48] That's very exciting to me. 

[00:20:50] Emma Kingsley: [00:20:50] I also, something that you said just now made me think, having a fondness for most of the things in your home because they're connected to people.

[00:20:58] I relate to that so much because this is not the first time we're saying this, but most of us have too much stuff and we're affected by our stuff. I think most people are kind of understanding that now, but we've been on a similar journey to you probably in the past decade. I mean, there are always things in my house I can continue to get rid of, but the things that I have acquired since having this shift of really caring about where things come from, I feel similarly.

[00:21:24] I have a fondness for things. My things make me happy, which is a really fun way to be, instead of kind of oppressed by the, the material things around you. 

[00:21:34] And then what you said, Mom, about convenience. We'd say this all the time about sort of, it's not convenient, but what if we just sort of like decided that convenience was a different thing? We did that instead of saying it's not convenient. What if we said, okay, but who's a convenient for, and for how long? Because usually, it's convenient for about 0.5 seconds in the moment. But if we have any sort of like zoomed out perspective, it's not convenient. 

[00:22:06] Mary Kingsley: [00:22:06] I'll give you a great example of that.

[00:22:08] When you're out traveling or whatever, and you, you know, you forgot to bring your go cup or whatever, and you really need something to drink. So you say, okay, and you get the single-use thing because that's convenient and you, you have this immediate need. But if you are sensitized to, you know, the implications of that single-use plastic thing, later on, you're looking at that and saying, what do I do with this? And it hurts.  

[00:22:37] Emma Kingsley: [00:22:37] Even if you're not supersensitized to it. We just went on a road trip to visit my grandparents. And because, you know, places aren't doing really reusable cups still yet, and we drink a lot of coffee. And like the amount of times we stopped and it's amazing, just there's just two of us and that we had to empty, you know, three, four coffee cups, like, oh

[00:22:58] Mary Kingsley: [00:22:58] Yeah.

[00:22:59] Emma Kingsley: [00:22:59] I mean, that's like, that's not convenient.  It's taking up space in your car. 

[00:23:03] Mary Kingsley: [00:23:03] Yeah. Right.

[00:23:04] Heidi Barr: [00:23:04] I think sometimes people overlook that just because something is different doesn't mean it's inconvenient. Like when I made the switch to storing all of my produce in linen, and I store all of my produce in linen now, unless I buy micro radish sprouts in those little plastic clamshell things, I can't resist. So, but pretty much everything else. 

[00:23:28] And when I tell people, you know, when I feel like historic fabric, you just, you get it damp and you put the greens in and you close it and it stays fresh twice as long, literally. Okay? So first of all, A. I'm not throwing away my food. It stays fresh twice as long. I don't have to go shopping as often. That's convenient. Right? 

[00:23:46] And it's actually like, once you make the change, it's not hard. 

[00:23:51] Emma Kingsley: [00:23:51] Right. 

[00:23:52] Heidi Barr: [00:23:52] The deciding to make the change and like learning a slightly new system that is maybe uncomfortable for a moment. But once you've gotten to the other side of it, it's just now a part of your routine. And I find that I have less stuff, which means I have less stuff to take care of, which means it takes less time to take care of it. And I have more time to do things that are better than that. 

[00:24:16] Emma Kingsley: [00:24:16] Great way to put it.

[00:24:18] Mary Kingsley: [00:24:18] Like taking out heaps of trash every week so it can be picked up. 

[00:24:24] Heidi Barr: [00:24:24] And cleaning out the garbage can and all that. I mean, who wants to do that anyway. 

[00:24:30] Mary Kingsley: [00:24:30] I want to go back to, you know, you're storing your produce in linen. I wanna hear about that. I, you know, we go to a CSA, and we at Lady Farmer has organic cotton produce bags, and we, I use those a lot and I'll also have like the little netted bags that I've collected various places. And have come to realize that these different fabrics and constructions do have an effect on how well the food keeps. 

[00:24:59] So for instance, the salad greens do not keep in that netted bag, even one day. They shrink up considerably. And even, even when you put it in the fridge, I don't know what it is about those. I don't know if the cotton fibers actually extract the moisture out of it, or I don't know, but that didn't work at all. But the little cotton canvas bags seem to work okay. But I want to hear about linen for produce storage. I don't have any linen. I'm going to get some from you. 

[00:25:25] Heidi Barr: [00:25:25] You need to try this. You know, for me, it was an experiment, and I'm very happy with the results. So linen, the fiber itself has antibacterial qualities. It's a residual left from the plant, which is really, really cool that something that's in the plant after all of the processing it goes through to become fabric, still retains this antibacterial quality that was in the original plant. It's like magic.

[00:25:53] Mary Kingsley: [00:25:53] Awesome. 

[00:25:53] Heidi Barr: [00:25:53] Yeah, really awesome. So that is why it was traditionally used in the kitchen and the bathroom and the bedroom. Right? Because it has this antibacterial quality. So, it keeps things fresh longer because it inhibits the growth of bacteria, which is what makes things rot. So for me, with the linen, with greens, you get the fabric damp and you put the greens in the damp fabric. And you want to make sure that it's wrapped around whatever you're storing completely.

[00:26:23] You don't want the air from the refrigerator to come in contact with your greens because that wilts it. It sort of like burns it, in a way. So you get the fabric damp and you enclose your greens in it and pop it, either in the crisper drawer or the regular part of the refrigerator. And as long as you keep that fabric damp, it'll keep your grains fresh.

[00:26:46] If the fabric dries out, I just take it out. I just run it under the sink cause I'm way too lazy to dump the greens out and get the bag damp and put them back in. So I just run it under the sink and deal with the fact that it drips on the way back to the fridge. And as long as you keep it damp like I have kept a head of lettuce in one of those bags for almost three weeks.

[00:27:06] Yeah. It's insane. How long it will stay fresh if you keep the bag damp. 

[00:27:10] Mary Kingsley: [00:27:10] Oh my gosh, I'm already a convert. 

[00:27:12] Heidi Barr: [00:27:12] I mean, I'm going to say like, you lose some of the outer leaves, and maybe I shouldn't have eaten it after like two weeks, but it was sort of, I wanted to see how long it would go. And for other things like mushrooms, where you want them dry, you just put it in a dry linen bag.

[00:27:28] And I just leave those on the shelf in the refrigerator. And then eventually they, if you don't use them right away, they will dry out. But then you just have dried mushrooms. They don't spoil. They don't go bad. 

[00:27:41] Even with bread on the counter. If I put it like a good love of bread, a real fresh loaf of bread from a baker, that's got live stuff in it. Right? I get that. I put it in a linen bread bag. I put it on the counter. It stays fresh for that first couple of days, you know? And then it's, as it starts to dry out a little bit, it just dries out it doesn't mold. And so eventually I'll use it for toast and then French toast and then breadcrumbs 

[00:28:07] Emma Kingsley: [00:28:07] Croutons.

[00:28:09] Heidi Barr: [00:28:09] Yeah. That's great because 

[00:28:10] Emma Kingsley: [00:28:10] I've been baking sourdough, and I have these beautiful boules, but they don't last unless I really wrap them in saran wrap, which I don't love. So I'm going to do this too now. 

[00:28:21]Mary Kingsley: [00:28:21] What I end up doing is putting them in one of our cotton produce bags and sticking it in the freezer and first cut it into slices and then pull them out one slice at a time. Then there's not a hurry about eating it up, but I would like to not have to freeze it, like to have it out for a couple of days and know it's not going to get all hard and dry. So I am so excited about this. 

[00:28:45] I hadn't heard about the antimicrobial aspect of linen. I had heard about that it has a healing quality to it. I didn't know if that was like science or tradition or what, but yeah. 

[00:29:00] Heidi Barr: [00:29:00] I think that might be related to that same idea because it was also used for bandages because of that anti-bacterial, anti-microbial qualities, right? It inhibits infection because it doesn't let bacteria grow in a wound.

[00:29:17] Mary Kingsley: [00:29:17] That's just amazing. I didn't know that. 

[00:29:20] Heidi Barr: [00:29:20] Nature's amazing. 

[00:29:22] Mary Kingsley: [00:29:22] So it sounds like you're like really evolved in terms of a zero-waste kitchen. What are some of the issues you haven't worked out yet? 

[00:29:31] Heidi Barr: [00:29:31] Throw out bread bags because I don't bake. So, so good for you, Emma. 

[00:29:37] Mary Kingsley: [00:29:37] You mean what you do with the bread that you buy?

[00:29:40] Heidi Barr: [00:29:40] Yeah. Bread that I buy, you know, comes in. It's a challenge to always buy your bread, not in a plastic bag. I mean, it can be done. 

[00:29:50] Emma Kingsley: [00:29:50] Like at the market maybe I feel like I've seen at the farms where you can buy directly and say like, please no bag. Maybe?

[00:29:56] Heidi Barr: [00:29:56] Right. Or at a bakery. And you can, in a bakery department, you can buy like the loose rolls and things, some places. But that's probably my biggest challenge is I bring loaves of bread into the house that come in plastic bags. And then I hate the plastic bags. You just get condensation in there and your bread molds. So I'm always sticking a linen napkin inside the plastic bag to absorb the moisture and wick it away from my bread.

[00:30:23] That's really my biggest challenge. Um, oh, the little plastic lids on everything. Even like, uh, you can get a wax paper box of cream and it has a stupid little plastic lid on it. What's up with that?

[00:30:39] Mary Kingsley: [00:30:39] I know. And what about like condiment jars? I started making condiments to a degree. I mean, you know. 

[00:30:49] Emma Kingsley: [00:30:49] Ketchup is hard. 

[00:30:50] Mary Kingsley: [00:30:50] Ketchup is, is quite a process. Mustard's easy. Mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is super easy. I don't know if you've discovered that we have a recipe in our little book that like literally takes less than one minute, and it's delicious. Have you ever done that? 

[00:31:07] Heidi Barr: [00:31:07] I have. I haven't done it in a long time because I can buy a mayonnaise, an organic mayonnaise in a glass jar at my co-op.

[00:31:15] Mary Kingsley: [00:31:15] Yeah. And then, oh, what else? Yeah. There's so many things like little refrigerator things that are just plastic. 

[00:31:24] Heidi Barr: [00:31:24] Yeah. I feel like I've really mastered the art of food storage and even freezing. Like a couple of years ago, I was finally like, I'm just going to freeze things in glass, and I freeze, I freeze a lot and I, and in glass, you know, in ball jars. 

[00:31:40] Mary Kingsley: [00:31:40] I do it too. You just have to learn how not full to get it. So it doesn't break. Just like, if you don't go above that shoulder thing, it's usually okay. 

[00:31:50] Heidi Barr: [00:31:50] Yeah. 

[00:31:50] Mary Kingsley: [00:31:50] On the jar. I freeze berries and all kinds of stuff in ball jars, you know, then you run into the thing about freezer space, but you know. 

[00:31:58] Emma Kingsley: [00:31:58] I just love thinking about the several decades, maybe not several, but the few decades there were of like domestic housewives in modern-day America making food, storing it before the plastic storage. So before, before that, I don't know how much leisure time and extra food there was around a store, but there were, you know, what, what is it, thirties, forties, fifties? 

[00:32:22] Mary Kingsley: [00:32:22] I think refrigeration became really common, like in the twenties and thirties. 

[00:32:26] Emma Kingsley: [00:32:26] I might be way off there, but I love thinking. And like when you go to, you know, flea markets and antiquing, all of the glass food storage stuff is so interesting. And even because it's really kind of impossible, I find now to find like modern-made glass that has zero like silicone or plastic, even like the Clippy things that clip over. And we have a couple from my grandma, you know, where the, the glass like fits inside in the lid.

[00:32:53] I just find that so fascinating. And I love thinking about how just plastic-free people were just because it didn't exist yet. And they did it 

[00:33:01] Mary Kingsley: [00:33:01] I know, I was thinking about that on the way over here, like it, and it hasn't been that long. It's been very recent. I would say around the time of the end of WWII when the chemical industries didn't have to build supplies for chemical warfare anymore. And they turned their attention to more domestic things like, you know, agriculture is a big one, and I think the production plastics. 

[00:33:24] And then it was all just marketed to us like, "Hey, your life has gotten so much easier because of all these things." And boy, you know, we bought it hook, line, and sinker. And now here we are. And that's why, you know, we like to say beware of that concept of convenience and just think about like what the discussion we just had about, "how convenient is that for you?" Down the road.

[00:33:48] Heidi Barr: [00:33:48] Yeah. I like to say the bad news is that we created really big problems in a really short period of time. And the good news is that we created really big problems in a really short period of time.

[00:33:58] Maybe we can undo them. 

[00:34:00] Mary Kingsley: [00:34:00] Exactly. I like to say we're now working on solutions to our solutions. 

[00:34:06] Emma Kingsley: [00:34:06] So do you have any specific, I want to hear more about your master zero waste kitchen storage plan. So, besides your things that you make your linen things for your company, do you have any like weird kind of hard-to-find storage? Like maybe do you have any vintage stuff or what else have you like struggled with that you've like found the solution that might be a little offbeat. 

[00:34:28] Heidi Barr: [00:34:28] Well, I don't know if this is offbeat because it seems so normal to me, but my go-to a hundred percent favorite, two solutions are the bowl on, the plate on top of the bowl. Like it is so simple. It is so available. It requires, you know, like nothing, it's two seconds. You're like, oh, that plate fits over this little done and done. 

[00:34:51] And then on top of that, a piece of cut fruit, cut side down. 

[00:34:55] Mary Kingsley: [00:34:55] Yeah. 

[00:34:56] Heidi Barr: [00:34:56] Because the peel preserves it right? So if you put the cut side down on a plate. You're done. 

[00:35:04] Mary Kingsley: [00:35:04] You're my twin. The hilarious thing about this is my husband who's all about food storage. I had to convince him that that plate over the bowl thing was okay. He thought it wasn't airtight enough. But you know, after a while now he's used to it. And the fruit down on top of that plate, that's on the bowl, you know, stacking in the refridge. To him, that was just not taking the time to store things. And I'm just like, that is storage. 

[00:35:36] Heidi Barr: [00:35:36] Well, that's funny because those two things I learned from, uh, I had an Irish writer staying with me for five weeks, like 10 years ago. And he didn't like "put food away." Right? I would open the fridge and there'd be like half a cucumber sitting there, and I'd be like, it's not wrapped. It's not closed. It's not in anything, but you know, I'd pull it out, and I'd cut like a tiny sliver off the end and like eat the rest. And it was fine. And I was like, oh. 

[00:36:07] Mary Kingsley: [00:36:07] And you weren't standing there holding a big old piece of saran wrap. Oh my gosh. 

[00:36:13] Heidi Barr: [00:36:13] That, you know, like meant that somebody had to go and, you know, drill for oil, get it out of the ground, process it, put it into a roll, make a carton, make a serrated cutting thing, put in a track truck, truck it to the grocery store, make me go to work to earn the money, to pay for it. I'm like, what is convenient about this? 

[00:36:33] Mary Kingsley: [00:36:33] Right. And instead, you have a tiny sliver of a cucumber that goes in your compost, and feeds the soil. Oh my gosh. It is such a no-brainer. And unlike, you know, people might say, oh, but you're wasting food. No. 

[00:36:48] Heidi Barr: [00:36:48] Not really. Think about all the sort of carbohydrates it takes to produce a piece of saran wrap. Right? If you think food is carbohydrates, right? 

[00:36:58] Mary Kingsley: [00:36:58] You just, you know, the skin of the thing is preserving the food for me and the little tiny end that I might have to cut off is food for the soil. So there you go. 

[00:37:08] Heidi Barr: [00:37:08] Let me see, what are my other master plan? I mean, the ball jar is my friend. I put cheese in a jar. I put everything in a jar. If I can't, if I'm like, what do I do with it? I put it in a jar. 

[00:37:21] Mary Kingsley: [00:37:21] I use rubber bands a lot. 

[00:37:23] Heidi Barr: [00:37:23] Right, yeah. 

[00:37:24] Mary Kingsley: [00:37:24] To, you know, reseal things that are inevitably in plastic. But, you know, instead of like where once we might've wrapped up, the whole thing in a saran wrap, we're just using the wrapping that's already there.

[00:37:38] Heidi Barr: [00:37:38] Clothespins are good for that too, to close the bags. 

[00:37:41] Emma Kingsley: [00:37:41] Yeah. 

[00:37:41] Heidi Barr: [00:37:41] And then, you know, the biggest way to reduce waste in a kitchen is to compost, which I guess, so that's a little bit about redefining waste as a resource. 

[00:37:55] Emma Kingsley: [00:37:55] Yeah. 

[00:37:55]Heidi Barr: [00:37:55] Compost like leaf litter, food scraps. We think of them as garbage. We think of them as waste, but they're not, they're actually a resource. They just need to be redirected.  

[00:38:06] Here in Philadelphia we have now I think three, maybe even four residential compost pickup services. Really great. Like it's like $15 a month, and they'll pick up, they just come pick up your bucket once a week.

[00:38:20] Mary Kingsley: [00:38:20] Can you put anything in it or do you have to separate stuff?

[00:38:23] Heidi Barr: [00:38:23] You can put anything in it. I mean, they're not going to take my linen scraps. That's a whole other story. We could talk about my vermiculture linen experiment. But like there's limits, but they take pretty much anything, any common food waste. 

[00:38:39] Emma Kingsley: [00:38:39] And when you do go to the grocery store, or I guess you mentioned co-op, do you go in there with your, all your jars and your linen bags and everything? Yeah. 

[00:38:47] Heidi Barr: [00:38:47] Yeah, I do. Sometimes I forget them. And then I use paper bags, which, you know, I don't feel as bad about. I also there are uses for those paper bags, so I never buy paper towels instead of the paper bags are good. Like if I make, if I have something greasy that I need to drain, I'll put it on just the paper bag.

[00:39:06] I remember my grandmother doing that. You wouldn't buy paper for your kitchen, cause that costs money. I mean, paper towels is just, you're throwing money away. But my grandmother was way too frugal for that. She would never have done that. You just had a paper bag and that's what you used to sop up grease.

[00:39:24] Emma Kingsley: [00:39:24] Yeah. That's what we do with our bacon in the morning. 

[00:39:26] Mary Kingsley: [00:39:26] Yeah and I love paper bags so much. I'm even kind of stingy with them. Like this is a really good bag. I'm not sure I want to use it for that thing, you know, there's, there's some really great bags

[00:39:40] Heidi Barr: [00:39:40] The other thing is that I wildly put out my trash in an unlined garbage can. 

[00:39:50] Mary Kingsley: [00:39:50] You rebel you. 

[00:39:54] Heidi Barr: [00:39:54] And they take it. 

[00:39:58] Mary Kingsley: [00:39:58] Okay. What is it with the trash bags? They have paper lawn and leaf bags. Why can't we use those for trash? 

[00:40:08] Heidi Barr: [00:40:08] We can. 

[00:40:09] Mary Kingsley: [00:40:09] We can, but you know, you're the super odd neighbor on the block if you do that because animals might come and, you know, and if they do then just pick it up and put it in another paper bag. 

[00:40:22] Heidi Barr: [00:40:22] It's all marketing. I just say, like, I don't know, Mary, we're probably about the same age. I believe that there was this era of knowing in the seventies where we already knew all of this, right? None of this is news. And then the oil companies had a better marketing campaign. So they won. So the good news is with technology now and a lot of the creatives who are really dedicated to this way of living, we're really good at marketing. So I think we have the better marketing campaign. 

[00:40:58] Emma Kingsley: [00:40:58] Yeah. 

[00:40:59] Mary Kingsley: [00:40:59] And I think it's growing. And speaking to that, that like segues right into a question I was going to ask you. Since you've been doing this business, how do you feel like the awareness has grown and the interest and how do you think the pandemic year affected it? If at all? I mean, what are your thoughts on that? 

[00:41:16] Like when you first started this out, you know, where people like, "huh, you know, you're going to take my Ziplocs away from me?" Or just talk about it. 

[00:41:24] Heidi Barr: [00:41:24] I think there's sort of two answers to that question. I feel like people are much more aware of the alternatives to this sort of extractive product-driven, consumer-driven lifestyle.

[00:41:39] And that may be true, and it may just be that I live in a bubble, but even if it's that I live in a bubble, I am sure that the bubble is much fuller. There are more people in this bubble, so it may not be big enough yet. But more are more people are at the party. So that feels really good. 

[00:42:02] What happens now, more people are talking about it. And so it's become much more in the mainstream conversation. That I think it's good. I think it's a double-edged sword though. I think it won't lose impact because of that. Right. I hope that it won't lose impact because of that. Once things get into the mainstream conversation, we have to be more and more conscious of how we choose our words.

[00:42:26] So we know that we're saying, like, I know since I started this business, the word sustainable has become a buzzword, and it's used for greenwashing, and it lost its impact. So now it's important to talk about that sustainability is out of necessity, regenerative. And so now we're talking about regenerative, and I'm already thinking about how, another way to say that so that if it loses impact, we're ready. 

[00:43:00] Emma Kingsley: [00:43:00] Yeah. Because it's, these things are so nuanced and there's so many layers to it, but as things become mainstream and more people know about it, then for some reason what happens is things become like sound bites and buzzy like you said, and things just want it to be, or yeah, people need it to be distilled and drilled down. And sometimes you just like, can't distill some of this stuff. 

[00:43:22] Mary Kingsley: [00:43:22] Well, it's like, you know, years ago and the earlier days of the organic food movement, the word natural, and we still battle with that one, you know. Natural really doesn't mean anything. And guess what? Organic doesn't either, you know. You only know food has been grown organically using organic methods if it's USDA certified organic. You can put organic on anything. Is that alarming? 

[00:43:52] Heidi Barr: [00:43:52] It is. Well, transparency is really important. 

[00:43:56] Mary Kingsley: [00:43:56] Yeah. 

[00:43:56] Heidi Barr: [00:43:56] I think that's really important to me. And I try regularly to do the hard posts, the ones that make me really uncomfortable. The ones where I admit that I haven't achieved everything I'm going for and the ones where I talk about money.

[00:44:12] It's important to talk about the money because you know, my marketing, my brand, my look is aspirational in some ways. It's attainable and it's aspirational and it always looks like I'm thriving. But the money I have, it's hard. And that is part of the conversation about sustainability and regeneration is that businesses like mine struggle financially.

[00:44:38] And that it's important to understand business and scale. My business is just shy of getting to the size it needs to be to really sustain operations and to pay myself and Haley, my chief operating officer, a living wage. But my business is just big enough that there's no way for me to do it alone. And so I think it's important to bring that to the table.

[00:45:06] So I do try really hard to say the hard things so that this awareness that's building around the movement can be complete. 

[00:45:14] Mary Kingsley: [00:45:14] Oh, we hear you. Let me tell you, we hear you. 

[00:45:16] Emma Kingsley: [00:45:16] Same boat. 

[00:45:17] Mary Kingsley: [00:45:17] Yeah. And it always, it circles back around it. Like you're talking about, you know, the, the presentation looks very aspirational, but there's always this breakdown, like this product that you promise and you've explained your mission and your goals and all the reasons why you've made this product the way it is, and it costs this amount of dollars. And it's like, "what? I'm not going to pay that." 

[00:45:44] I think we talk about that so much that I feel like it's getting better out there. I think, I think if people are getting it a little more. The sole objective of offering a product is not to offer it to the customer for the least possible amount of money for them, but to make it sustainable for everybody. 

[00:46:03] Emma Kingsley: [00:46:03] Least amount of harm for everyone involved. 

[00:46:05] Caroline Taylor: [00:46:05] Least amount of harm and to make it sustainable as possible for everybody all the way up the line, starting with the soil. 

[00:46:11] Heidi Barr: [00:46:11] Love that. I think too, a lot about how I have the privilege of being able to do what I do because of generational privilege, but I've never made more than $30,000 a year in my whole life. And that's like a real number that people go, "what!" You know. 

[00:46:34] I think a lot about how people with similar earning potential to mine say, "but I need the cheap thing because otherwise, I can't afford it." And I say yes and no, because that cheap thing is keeping you poor. The system that provides you with that cheap thing is dependent on somebody being poor. It's dependent on someone being exploited. And so, less things, but pay more. 

[00:47:07] Emma Kingsley: [00:47:07] Yeah. 

[00:47:08] Heidi Barr: [00:47:08] I mean, we're really, you know what we're talking about, ladies, we're talking about a revolution. 

[00:47:13] Emma Kingsley: [00:47:13] We just had this conversation. We had, we aired a special episode on Juneteenth with our good friend, Tony, who's a historian on The Underground Railroad specifically.

[00:47:22] And we talked about right around emancipation when the slaves were freed but the thing that was happening, where a lot of enslaved people were staying on and receiving wages, but then their clothing and their food and their housing was, was taken out of those wages. And he was kind of walking us through that.

[00:47:43] And then we were kind of going that's where the term "the company store" comes from. And then we were kind of like, whoa, that's kind of the entire lie. Like, this is what you can afford. So buy this. So the whole concept... 

[00:47:57] Mary Kingsley: [00:47:57] We're all trapped. 

[00:47:58] Emma Kingsley: [00:47:58] Yeah. We're trapped by this economic system. 

[00:48:01] Heidi Barr: [00:48:01] Yes we are. 

[00:48:02] Mary Kingsley: [00:48:02] And we're brainwashed thinking that we're entitled to the cheapest, the least expensive thing, the cheapest possible thing. And that's our right. And it's very politically incorrect to talk about, you know, sustainable products and everything because inevitably you get people going, not everybody can afford that. You can't talk about that. It's inequitable. I'll tell you what's inequitable is slaves making your clothes. 

[00:48:26] Right. What's inequitable is the school-to-prison pipeline, and the free labor source that, that creates in our country.

[00:48:34] In textiles. I mean like textile companies use prison labor to produce products in this country. So "made in America" can mean made in prison. 

[00:48:44] Emma Kingsley: [00:48:44] Yeah. 

[00:48:45] Mary Kingsley: [00:48:45] And if it's cheap, if you've got, you know, a $10 t-shirt, you can be darn sure that that's not made by a person who makes a livable wage, who has access to good healthcare, education, all that kind of stuff. No, that is a person that's doing that because they have to so that you can buy cheap. 

[00:49:07] Heidi Barr: [00:49:07] There's actually a word for this and several other languages. None of which I know. But the concept is cheap is dear. 

[00:49:15] Emma Kingsley: [00:49:15] Yes. 

[00:49:17] Heidi Barr: [00:49:17] Dear as an expensive. Cheap is dear. 

[00:49:20] Mary Kingsley: [00:49:20] Yes and there's a book, you gotta read this. It's A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things.

[00:49:25] But he says, and I've quoted this a few times on the podcast. Cheap is never a bargain, sort of the same idea. And he goes way back. Like this has been going on a very long time. This is not just us and our industrial society. This is like, way, way this is the beginning of civilization. 

[00:49:43] This is agriculture. This is building of the pyramids. I mean, everybody knows this. 

[00:49:49] Heidi Barr: [00:49:49] It's the wheel. I blame it on the wheel.

[00:49:53] Mary Kingsley: [00:49:53] Right. So Heidi, tell us about your community collaborations. 

[00:50:01] Heidi Barr: [00:50:01] My longest-standing and, and really most meaningful community collaboration is my work with, um, Henry Got Crop, which is the Weavers Way farm CSA. They inspired my business. They feed me for 24 weeks out of the year. And this year I'm spending four hours a week there in exchange for my food. 

[00:50:23] Mary Kingsley: [00:50:23] Oh, wow. 

[00:50:24] Emma Kingsley: [00:50:24] Amazing. Four hours is nothing. That's great. It's probably fun for you. 

[00:50:29] Heidi Barr: [00:50:29] Yeah. So they both like inspire me and they nourish me. And I call it Nina's magic farms. Nina is the farm manager there, and she's an incredible connector of people, which has been just magical for me.

[00:50:45] And it also has put me in direct contact with the soil on a regular basis, which has been just much better than any therapy I could ever have gotten. Like actually being in the dirt. It's good. And then there's the ones that have grown out of that with other growers in the region. So, growers I can learn from, growers I can support. 

[00:51:07] And then the Flax Project. 

[00:51:10] Mary Kingsley: [00:51:10] Yeah. 

[00:51:11] Heidi Barr: [00:51:11] Is my pandemic baby with Emma DeLong at Kneehigh Farm. And it's incredible this project. So Emma and I met to talk about doing a natural dye collaboration with indigo. She grows and linen products that I make, and literally within an hour of meeting, she had offered up an eighth of an acre on her farm to grow flax for linen.

[00:51:35] And in April of 2020, we hand broadcast 13 pounds of seed. And with the exact thought of "let's just test the seed on the ground and see what happens." And we're now in our second growing season, we have I think eight other growers who are growing seed that we sourced from fiber revolution, which is a group out in Oregon who are working to revitalize the flax into linen industry in the United States.

[00:52:09] And they are now our consultants. We are working with them as well as Altogether Now Pennsylvania, which is a 501C3 here, connecting urban and rural supply and demand. And we are on track sort of working toward getting an operational mill that could process flax from field into spinnable fiber.

[00:52:35] Emma Kingsley: [00:52:35] So if you started growing last season, do you have any finished linen yet? 

[00:52:40] Heidi Barr: [00:52:40] We don't have any finished linen, but we have some spinnable fiber, and I have started actually with Nina from the other farm. Nina and I, and our friend, Cassandra, who is a spinner have started experimenting with spinning it. We're actually carding the toe in with wool and spinning that way because it's easier.

[00:53:02] Mary Kingsley: [00:53:02] Isn't that Lindsey Woolsey. Isn't that what you used to call that? Oh, wow. 

[00:53:07] Heidi Barr: [00:53:07] So we're getting there. 

[00:53:09] Emma Kingsley: [00:53:09] Yeah, that's amazing. Have you connected with any historical, cause you're a costumer. Like we know some ladies at Mount Vernon who know a lot about this process. 

[00:53:20] Mary Kingsley: [00:53:20] Yeah. 

[00:53:21] Heidi Barr: [00:53:21] So, yes. And in 2020, we sourced our seed from Landis Valley Farm and Museum in Lancaster.

[00:53:30] Emma Kingsley: [00:53:30] Oh, cool. Okay. 

[00:53:31] Heidi Barr: [00:53:31] They imported from the Netherlands, and this year they planted the seed we got from the women in Oregon, which is, so Fiber Revolution, Shannon and Angela are also part of Pacific Northwest Fibershed. And they grew out 13 acres of fiber flax for seed with a farmer in Montana. And so they have like, I forgot how many tons of fiber seed that's the first that's been produced in the U.S. in decades.

[00:53:57] And so we sourced from them this year, and this year Landis Valley planted that seed next to the seed they'd been using for the past, I don't know, 20 or 30 years. And they're comparing the two crops. So we're doing a lot of really exciting trials this year with the growing of the flax. 

[00:54:16] Mary Kingsley: [00:54:16] I'm so excited. I want to be involved. I've got my own little experimental flax bed. It's about six by eight feet. 

[00:54:25] Heidi Barr: [00:54:25] Perfect size. 

[00:54:26] Mary Kingsley: [00:54:26] It grew up. It bloomed. It's beautiful. Now has little seed heads on it. And now I'm like, now what?

[00:54:32] Heidi Barr: [00:54:32] When the bottom third of the plant is golden, you pull it up by the roots and lay it back down on the ground. 

[00:54:39] Mary Kingsley: [00:54:39] For the redding. Okay. What if it's like raining like crazy? 

[00:54:45] Heidi Barr: [00:54:45] It's fine. 

[00:54:45] Mary Kingsley: [00:54:45] It's fine. Okay. 

[00:54:47] Heidi Barr: [00:54:47] The redding requires moisture. So it can take anywhere from two to four weeks, depending on how much moisture you get. But I managed to do it just watch a YouTube video because you know because it was the pandemic year, right? 

[00:55:00] Mary Kingsley: [00:55:00] I know, I was going to say, I just need to get on YouTube. And like, they'll probably several of them and there'll be a little bit different, but I'll get a general idea. And I saw y'all's video of y'all doing it, I guess last year. It's just so exciting. So anyway, we want to be involved in your flax project somehow. We want to support and talk about it. And I mean, it's just like totally what we're about.

[00:55:21]Emma Kingsley: [00:55:21] Upcoming episode. 

[00:55:22] Mary Kingsley: [00:55:22] Upcoming episode and yeah.

[00:55:24] Heidi Barr: [00:55:24] Yeah. The flax project is magical. It's just so many people are just galvanized around it. It's a very seductive plant. It's beautiful. And the process of once you read it and you get this what looks like dirty straw, and then you break it and it literally, you watch it become golden. Soon as somebody sees it, they just go, "whoa, I want to do that."

[00:55:51]Mary Kingsley: [00:55:51] Have you thought of when you get to the point, like probably wouldn't be this season, but where you have a sizable crop and having an event where people come and actually do this, do the combing thing together? Could you ever see that happening? 

[00:56:04] Heidi Barr: [00:56:04] Yes, it's happening. We did a tiny one. 

[00:56:07] Mary Kingsley: [00:56:07] Yeah. 

[00:56:08] Heidi Barr: [00:56:08] And then at that one, we met these wonderful women from CCATE, which is a LatinX afterschool program and arts collective in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

[00:56:18] And they're now growing flax. Their flax is flowering. I went to go visit it yesterday and, um, they're growing for soil remediation. They have lead-contaminated soil that they want to grow food in. So they're growing this year's crop for soil remediation, and it's being tested the soil before and after, as well as the fiber, once it's processed is going to be tested by the labs at Villanova University.

[00:56:43] Emma Kingsley: [00:56:43] Heidi, what does The Good Dirt mean to you, literally or metaphorically? 

[00:56:49] Heidi Barr: [00:56:49] So, The Good Dirt is the news in the neighborhood that you want to know. 

[00:56:58] Mary Kingsley: [00:56:58] Yeah. 

[00:56:59] Heidi Barr: [00:56:59] It is the news that connects you to the community and that lets you know where you fit within the community. And so at its best, I think it's like sharing ideas and building community and the double entendre of that phrase brings to mind for me, the connections that tree roots create and how you know, now we talk about the research has finally told people that the trees communicate with one another to create a network in the earth that creates fertile soil.

[00:57:35]Mary Kingsley: [00:57:35] That's wonderful. So what would you like to leave our audience with about yourself, the work that you do, or just anything you want to tell us? 

[00:57:44] Heidi Barr: [00:57:44] About myself, I would say, you know, I think of myself as a creative and that I would say to people who wonder how I got where I got, I got here by following my curiosity and by creatively problem-solving. And I would invite people to try that. 

[00:58:05] I think there's a bit of a crisis of lack of that in our culture. And it's super fun, and it can be really productive. So I would, I would invite that. About my work. I want more than anything for my work to be accessible. So I love to create beauty, and I know I really edit everything and make it look very gorgeous, but I want people to understand that beauty is accessible, and they can bring it into their lives, and that it's not delicate. Beauty can be durable. 

[00:58:39] And also that I think my work is urgent. We need to embrace the urgency of making these sorts of changes in our lifestyles. 

[00:58:50] Mary Kingsley: [00:58:50] Well said, well said. 

[00:58:52] Emma Kingsley: [00:58:52] I also love what you said about following your curiosity to solve problems. I think that just relates to everything. Like, part of the reason why we're in this mess is because we've outsourced our own agency in so many ways.

[00:59:06] And I think part of the process of this healing and regeneration is stop outsourcing that stuff, even our own thoughts, you know, stop looking for someone else to tell us what to do, what to buy, how to live, how we're going to be happy. Cause it's, it's inside of all of us. We already have all the answers. We just have to pay attention a little more and listen. 

[00:59:27] Mary Kingsley: [00:59:27] Along those lines, you know, if something doesn't feel right to us, but the powers that be, or the marketing or whatever says "no really it's okay, this is okay." But you're thinking, "is it really?" Listen to yourself. 

[00:59:40] Emma Kingsley: [00:59:40] Yeah. 

[00:59:41] Mary Kingsley: [00:59:41] I think we've outsourced our common sense to a huge degree and, you know, go back to the first piece of plastic. Like this is going to be around forever. But, you know, is you're using it right now is really going to be helpful to you.

[00:59:59] Emma Kingsley: [00:59:59] Well, thank you so much. This has been so fun. Wonderful. 

[01:00:02] Mary Kingsley: [01:00:02] It's been really, really interesting and I've loved it and we have much more to follow up on, but in the meantime, thank you so much for joining us today, Heidi. 

[01:00:11] Heidi Barr: [01:00:11] Thank you for having me. It was really my pleasure. It's been wonderful to talk with you. 

[01:00:16] Mary Kingsley: [01:00:16] Thank you. We'll be talking to you soon.

[01:00:23] Thank you, Heidi, for all your practical tips and good information, and also your vision and your perseverance for this issue really, really inspirational. And I learned a lot. 

[01:00:36] Emma Kingsley: [01:00:36] Yeah, we can't wait to see everything that comes from Kitchen Garden Textiles, and I can't wait to get my order in. And if you are here for the first time, welcome to The Good Dirt, we're Lady Farmer. You can find us online at or on Instagram @weareladyfarmer.

[01:00:53] We have an online membership community called The Almanac, and we are currently not open for enrollment, but we will be soon. Welcome to the family, and we're here every Friday at The Good Dirt. We'll see you next week. 

[01:01:07] Mary Kingsley: [01:01:07] Bye, everybody.