If you’ve been following our blog, you’ve read about the rollercoaster that has been our first exposure to cotton farming. Having survived the terrible drought, the cotton has been carried through the summer by equal parts rainfall and sunshine. Right now, the bolls are looking healthy, but so are the weeds. Following the organic guidelines, we did not use any chemicals to eradicate the weeds. Lisa and “friend” Jimmy have done the leg, and arm, and back work.

Last Wednesday, the Alabama Chanin staff, along with Lisa and Jimmy, made a trip to weed the field. We arrived to a daunting 6 1/2 acres of beautifully forming cotton alongside big, ugly weeds. The next few weeks are crucial to a successful harvest of the first ever organic cotton crop in North Alabama (that is, since the invention of pesticides and genetically modified seeds). Our plants need ample light, air circulation, and nutrients from the soil to continue to develop and open.  We were overjoyed when Lisa sent images on Saturday morning of the first bolls that have opened. But some of the weeds have still got to go. If this crop is to see a successful harvest, it’s going to need more help to survive and thrive.

This is where we need your help. We are asking our friends and community to grab some gloves, a hoe, or a pair of long-handled shears and take an hour or two to visit our field, chop, cut or stomp down some weeds; we’re asking for your help to guide our organic cotton to fiber. Starting today until a tentative date, we invite anyone interested to stop by the field at their leisure to help with weeding. We’d like to restrict the times from sunrise to sunset to keep everyone safe. The end date is tentative based on the growth of the cotton, the weather, and just how mother-nature unfolds.  But, all who lend a hand will be invited to the Official Billy Reid + Alabama Chanin Picking Party.

In exchange for your hard work, you will receive a ticket that guarantees admission for you and one guest to our soon-to-be-determined Picking Party* and a t-shirt from the Alabama Chanin crew, personally customized by Natalie, that reads, “I helped grow organic Alabama cotton.” (Note: And it can’t hurt for us to mention that Lisa says she has lost 11 pounds weeding this field.)

We invite you to be a part of what we believe will be a beautiful moment in the history of Alabama cotton and have a hand in establishing what we understand to be the FIRST privately owned organic cotton field in Alabama. Even if you don’t want to chop, pick or pull weeds, just drive by our little field to see sustainability at its best, say a little prayer, throw some good wishes, and tell your neighbors.

Grab a friend, pack a picnic, and come….

Interested yet? Contact studio (at) alabamachanin.com or call +1.256.760.1090.

We’ll provide you with all the information you need.


9 comments on “A PLEA FOR COTTON

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  1. Holly

    Wish I lived near you all. Live in Northern New England where cotton and okra don’t stand a chance. Would love to help out and see this awesome organic cotton field. Good Luck!

  2. Russ Garner


    Love your way of thinking.

    I have farmed for most of my adult life, in some form or another, whether it be scouting cotton in the Delta to pay for college, milking cows, or just plain gardening. This is the first year I have grown a garden organically, and it actually was not that hard.

    Just a few questions:

    Where is organically grown cotton ginned at in the US? Is this something that small farmers in the US could do, say with 3 or 4 acres? Returns? I know you may not know the answer to these questions, but I am very interested in your ideas from the ag side of it.

    Russ Garner

  3. j.

    Not sure how this would work for you, but at the very least it would be organic…Have you tried white vinegar to fight the weeds back? It works brilliantly but unfortunately it kills everything, so it would need to be sprayed close to the ground and only on the weeds. Good luck!!!

  4. suzy

    Wish I could be there to help, but it’s a long haul from MN.

    Adding to j’s comment, I’m wondering how mulch would work? Here in MN, using a thich straw mulch in the veggie garden keeps mine virtually weed free. I understand that mulch doesn’t work with every crop, every soil type, or every climate, but it’s a thought. In addition to keeping the weeding to next to nothing, it moderates soil temperature, helps to conserve water, and when it breaks down, feeds the soil. Up front, it means an extra day of work (and that work is STILL easier than the weeding kind of work) for me, but what it saves me in time alone over the course of the summer from not having to weed, makes it way, way worth it.

    Best of luck in this venture.

  5. amiee

    how i wish i lived a stone’s throw…i would be there. instead i will send immense energy to those in the fields able to help. good luck removing what my mama calls “opportunistic plants”.. 😉

    1. Arlene Wanetick

      Oh how I wish I lived nearby! I would be there in a heartbeat. In the meantime, I will send many heartbeats to those wonderful souls who will be there picking, and to the cotton plants, encouraging their growth and survival. Brava to you, Natalie, for your courage, commitment, and creativity.

  6. jonn

    Glenn and I are excited to come to Alabama this Saturday and Sunday to weed and play in the dirt – hope to see some of the AC folks in the field

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