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Local flax farm experiences business success despite cornavirus downturn

A local start-up, Chico Flax is in its second year and despite the economic downturn due to the coronavirus, the business is anticipating expansion

Posted: Apr 8, 2020 8:17 AM
Updated: Apr 8, 2020 10:45 AM

CHICO, Calif. – At this time of economic uncertainty for many Northern California businesses, the owners of one local startup are finding benefit in the current ‘stay at home’ guidelines.

Action News Now Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough visited with the mastermind behind Chico Flax Farm, to learn how the business has evolved over the past year, since the first crop harvest.

In April, 2019, Yarbough spent the day working alongside volunteers to learn about the flax crop and how the owners were developing a home-grown business.

Sandy Fisher’s office is an expansive field of healthy flax, growing on the outskirts of Chico. The current ‘stay at home’ guidelines means more time to work the crop.

Fisher explains, this season, the work included hand-processing 750 pounds of flax harvested last year, in order to prepare it for spinning.

Fischer says in the year since launching her business, there is not only local but also global interest. Her business is unique, in that it takes a product from soil, to processing, to linen, to yarn to finished garment.

Chico Flax Farm now has several employees, rather than just volunteers. There is also a partnership with a local sheep farm to source wool.

“What we’re doing right now is we have successfully blended our flax which becomes linen when it’s spun, with local wool,” explains Fisher. “So we have a 35% flax to 65% wool and I’ve knitted with it and woven with it.”

Now in its second year, Fisher says production output is up by almost double.

Yarbough asked Fisher what the current coronavirus-induced business climate is teaching her.

“I think it is allowing us to look within ourselves a lot,” she says. “Because of the connection to the land it’s a non-chemically processed product, it didn’t have a factory to make that. It’s my way of contributing back to my community.”

Chico Flax has also caught the attention of global outfitter Patagonia, which has landed Fisher a grant to expand the yarn side of her business.

The goal now for the company is to more fully develop a 100% local operation that can create jobs and products for the local community and beyond.

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