Wool from small local producers featured June 4 at Delaware Valley University farm

Mike Fournier of Warrington grading wool before bagging and shipment.

Mike Fournier of Warrington grading wool before bagging and shipment.

If one has a small sheep farm, how does one sell their wool when woolen mills only deal with clients that have over 20,000 pounds to sell? Answer: Get together with all the other small wool producers in your area and form a wool marketing cooperative.

That’s what happened about 70 years ago when shepherds in Bucks and Montgomery counties formed the Bucks/Montgomery Cooperative Wool Pool. Every year since then, they have held a one-day ‘Wool Pool’ to collect local wool, pack it into large bags, and ship it to a woolen/textile mill. This provides many small producers with the same marketing power as large sheep ranches in the Western states.

On Saturday, June 4, more than 100 shepherds and shearers from 14 Pennsylvania and New Jersey counties will deliver their wool to the Roth Farm of Delaware Valley University in Upper Gwynedd, where it will be graded, sorted, bagged and loaded on a truck headed to a woolen mill in South Carolina.

Over 23,000 pounds of wool was handled last year. The product varies in quality, and it is sorted according to “grade” — fiber diameter, length, and color — before being bagged. Grades are medium staple, long wools, natural colored wool fiber (brown, gray, black), fine wools, low 1/4, and clothing. A hydraulic bagger is used to stuff 250 pounds of wool into eight-foot-long plastic bags before being loaded onto a truck.

This year, the pool will be open at the Delaware Valley University Roth Farm, 1260 Welsh Road in North Wales, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 4. Any wool producer from any county is welcome to sell their wool through this pool. No quantities are too big or too small!

Hand spinners and crafters are welcome to come into the sorting area and buy fleeces by the pound from noon to 1 p.m.

The Wool Pool is a collaborative effort between Penn State Extension, Delaware Valley University, and the Wool Pool Cooperative. Questions? Contact Bob Brown at the Penn State Extension at (215) 345-3283.

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