The History of PureGrow™ Wool
Sonoma County PureGrow Wool™
PureGrow™ Wool has been a joint effort for many years by the Natural Bedroom, the Sonoma County Wool Growers, the University of California Agricultural Extension and Debra Lynn Dadd. The program calls for absolutely no chemicals, pesticides or artificial materials in the sheep's environment. The pastures where they graze must be free of pesticides for a minimum of two years, and supplemental feeds must be organically based. Inoculations can contain no synthetics or hormones. Even the grasses on which the sheep are grazed are carefully selected. In the shearing process, ranchers use a clean room and a surface free of dirt, dust and pests. Throughout the packing, cleaning and carding process, care is taken to eliminate chemical processes and maintain uniform quality. PureGrow™ Wool is as natural as can be, which is something we are very proud of at The Earthsake Natural Bedroom. What is especially wonderful, though, is knowing that this new eco-savvy process has ensured the survival of these diligent ranchers for years to come.
Joe Pozzi's sheep strut around with a certain cockiness in their step—after all, they're organic. His fellow ranchers shear with a smile these days—and they're getting paid more to do it. It's all part of the Sonoma PureGrow Wool™ program, and it has improved life for sheep, rancher and consumer alike. But it hasn't always been this good.
Twenty years ago, the once thriving sheep ranching industry began to fade away. Plummeting market prices and predatory coyotes and mountain lions were destroying what was once a proud and self-sufficient family business.
Bodega rancher Joe Pozzi was one of the fortunate ones who made it through the turmoil. "Before the arrival of the PureGrow™ program, we were having to go out and get other jobs in order to be able to keep our farms in the family name," Pozzi said.
Cheap overseas wool production was forcing the Sonoma ranchers to lower their prices, and their families began working for a pittance. As a result, wool ranchers left the business in droves. Those who survived long enough were saved. In a unique partnership beneficial to everyone involved, the ranchers and The Natural Bedroom came to an agreement. The Natural Bedroom would pay local growers above market price for their wool. In turn, growers promised to adhere to strict PureGrow™ principles.
"We've made a commitment to the land and the sheep, as well as the wool," Pozzi said. "We've raised the standards these animals live in." They've raised their own living standards as well. The Sonoma County ranchers, almost all of whom settled there in the late 1800s, have kept their family farms and are going into their fourth generation. Rather than being forced to submit to the demands of commercial wool purchasers for small profits, Joe Pozzi and his fellow ranchers can now feel good about what they're doing and what they're being paid for it.
"I'm very proud that we're able to sustain our tradition and legacy," Pozzi said. "The PureGrow™ wool program has brought a new level of enthusiasm to the ranchers I've never seen before." Everyone is doing their part to make this program work.
Earthsake's Natural Bedroom program is committed to supporting traditional American industry and providing healthful, planetary-conscious products for the home and bedroom. The ranchers are committed to responsible land management, clean and natural wool production, and healthy and happy sheep. The consumers, for their money, receive superior organic wool, along with the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to resuscitate an ailing industry. And they don't even have to wrestle with those cocky sheep.