Growing Industry For Alpaca Wool

By: James Hopkins Email
By: James Hopkins Email

There's a fabric out that's softer than cashmere and up to eight times warmer than sheep's wool. It's made from Alpaca wool and local farmers and the Palisade Chamber of Commerce are working hard to bring they industry to the Grand Valley.

Four years ago Mike and Cindy McDermott at Suncrest Orchards bought four alpacas to keep as pets for their children and to teach them about farm life. But after doing a little research, they decided to turn it into a business venture. Alpaca wool is 8 times warmer,
hypoallergenic, naturally fire retardant and sheds water 4 times quicker than traditional sheep's wool. On top of all that, "equaled the feel of cashmere with all the properties of wool," says McDermott.

Right now the McDermott's just spin this wool into yarn and sell it to other companies that make something out of it. But they are trying to get other Alpaca farmers in the valley on board to create a co–op in which each farm would own a piece of manufacturing equipment. That way they could make blankets, clothing and even rugs to sell in Palisade, creating jobs and bringing money to the town.

It's something the Palisade Chamber of Commerce would definitely like to see. "We think it's a great selling point," says Leif Johnson of the Chamber. On top of the manufacturing equipment, more alpacas are needed. The grand valley is currently home to about 125 Alpaca's and it would take up to 300 to have the valley going on a small scale.

The McDermotts know it's not going to be easy to get the industry up and running, but they're hopeful that they can create the demand and the relationship between other farmers for it.

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