Sheridan’s Natural Dye Garden Initiative

Work on Sheridan's dye garden began in May and will continue on through the summer months.

Work on Sheridan’s dye garden began in May and will continue on through the summer months. Photo: Janelle Guthrie

Faculty and volunteers from Sheridan’s Bachelor of Craft and Design program have begun their Dye Garden Initiative, located right outside the Textiles studio. Thanks to the hard work, commitment and dedication from student volunteers and faculty, the dye garden represents an important first step in raising awareness for sustainability within the Sheridan community.

As Rachel Miller, professor and Studio Head of Textiles explains:

“The implementation of sustainable practices is a major initiative in both the academic community and our community at large. Because the textile industry, especially synthetic dyes processes, is one of the largest pollutants worldwide, we in the Textiles Program are committed to lessen the impact by establishing an organic dye garden on campus.

As our natural dye garden is launched, we plan to grow and harvest at least 13-15 dyeplants that are suitable to our climate and region. The dye garden will also include educational information, such as history, yielded dye color, harvest, mature height, etc.

Additionally, we will work with local restaurants, grocery stores, and our campus cafeteria to utilize inedible food to extract dye colours, such as onion skins, avocado pits,etc., that would otherwise be discarded. Growing, harvesting, and extracting our own dyes and creating dyes onsite takes sustainability one step further in reducing our carbon footprint by not relying solely on ordering, purchasing, and paying for dye shipments. The dye garden is a wonderful opportunity for our current and future students to learn the art of harvesting colours from nature, but also to make a positive environmental impact. We are thrilled to take on this exciting initiative towards a more sustainable future for the Sheridan community and the environment at large.”

Workshops began a few weeks ago and more will be held from June 5th to 7th. Come September, students will hold training sessions and will begin a rotation allowing many others to participate.

Growing botanical dyes is becoming more and more popular among communities and schools around Canada and the Bachelor of Craft and Design hopes to provide leadership in raising awareness as the initiative continues into the Fall of 2015.


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