TapRoot Farms / Blog


Flax update May 2015

Posted on by Rhea Hamlin

The month of May has brought lovely weather to the farm. Things at TapRoot Farms and TapRoot Fibre Lab have been picking up speed.

I am continuing to develop a content marketing plan for TapRoot Fibre Lab.

When conducting research on the current flax market I came across European Confederation of Linen and Hemp's Euro Flax and Masters of Linen label. These labels provide consumers with insurance that they are buying a quality product.

This got us thinking, how cool would it be to have a label for flax and linen produced right here in Nova Scotia. Therefore, I have been working on creating a set of standards for flax and linen products created in Nova Scotia.

I am still experimenting making linen paper by hand. During the month of May, Patricia, Karrie, and I had a lovely chat with Gary from Gaspereau Press. He should us some of the handmade paper he brought in for his printing business as well as the Hollander beater he uses when he is hand making paper. Our discussion help points me in the right direction and helps me with what the next steps would be.

You may have noticed on Facebook, that we started to clean our flax seeds. We ordered some screens designed for cleaning flax seeds from a company out west. On nice sunny afternoons, I flee the office to enjoy the nice weather and clean flax seed. If it is windy, I winnow the seed to remove the dust and chaff. If the wind is not on my side, I spend my time threshing the seed bulbs to remove the seeds. 

Another project I have been working on is blending tow, the fibres that are left behind in the hackles, with sheep’s wool for spinning purposes. I have been hand carding, with cards designed for sheep’s wool, to remove the stem and any remaining knots.

The TapRoot flax field has been planted this week. Personally, I am looking forward seeing the blue flowers that the flax plant produces. You can watch our flax growing over the season by liking the TapRoot Fibre Lab Facebook page.

Have a lovely June, Rhea.


TapRoot Fibre Lab's paper making experiment.

Posted on by Rhea Hamlin

If you 'liked' the TapRoot Fibre Lab page on Facebook, you probably notice the pictures I (Rhea) have been posting of our hand made linen paper. Over the past few weeks, I have been experimenting with making paper out of our own flax. During this experiment, I have been using different parts of the flax plant, soaking some material overnight, as well as cooking the plant material in a water and baking soda mixture.

If you are interested in trying your hand at paper making, reference the links I have listed below. This list includes different paper making sites that provide how-to information and/or paper making equipment.

Paper making information:

Paperslurry - Papermaking with plants poster: http://paperslurry.bigcartel.com/product/papermaking-with-plants-12x18-poster

Liz-Anna's Lakeside Studio - Make Your Own Paper from Plants: http://liz-annaslakesidestudio.blogspot.ca/2010/06/papermaking-tutorial.html

Hand papermaking Newsletter - Sources of Fibre and Pulp: http://newsletter.handpapermaking.org/beginner/beg17.htm

Hand papermaking Newsletter - Harvesting Fibres: http://newsletter.handpapermaking.org/beginner/beg72.htm

Hand papermaking Newsletter - Methods of Beating Fibre: http://newsletter.handpapermaking.org/beginner/beg33.htm

Hand papermaking Newsletter - Assessing Your Pulp and Paper: http://newsletter.handpapermaking.org/beginner/beg88.htm

Hand papermaking Newsletter - Sheet Formation and Uniformity: 



Paper making equipment:

Paperslurry - Make a Mould and Deckle for Handmade Paper - Cheap, Quick & Dirty: http://paperslurry.com/2014/08/01/make-mould/

Hollander Beater:

Reina Hollander Beater: http://www.briarpress.org/17372

Carriage House Paper, supplies for the Hand Papermaker: 


Catherine Nash's Resources - Using Hollander Beaters : Beater Finesse: http://www.papermakingresources.com/articles_beater.html

Alibaba (search results for a hollander beater): http://www.alibaba.com/trade/search?fsb=y&IndexArea=product_en&CatId=4327&SearchText=hollander+beater

Paperslurry: The Oracle Holland Beater - Papermaking Equipment by Lee McDonald: http://paperslurry.com/tag/hollander-beater/

The Oracle Hollander Beater PDF: http://toolsforpaper.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/up-to-date-oracle-flyer.pdf

The Fiber Wire: Holland Beaters - Helping Papermakers Since the 1600s:  http://thefiberwire.com/2014/05/09/hollander-beaters-helping-the-papermaker-since-the-1600s/

W WMU PILOT PLANTS: http://www.wmich.edu/pilotplants/hollander-beater

Lee McDonald Company - Papermaking equipment: http://toolsforpaper.com/blog/

Lee Scott McDonald - THE HYDRA HOLLANDER BEATER PDF: http://www.pickar.caltech.edu/me105/materials/papermaking/beater.pdf

David Reina Designs - Beaters: http://www.davidreinadesigns.com/beaters/

Mark Lander - Little Critter Hollander Beaters: http://marklander.org/hollander-beaters/

Paperslurry - The Critter Paper Beater is Dandy for Hand Papermaking Studios: 


Flax update April 2015

Posted on by Rhea Hamlin

It is now the beginning of May, and what lovely weather we been having!

I (Rhea) have been developing several presentations and a content marketing plan for TapRoot Fibre Lab Inc. Currently, I have been looking into several existing organic flax growing and processing standards. We are hoping to eventually have a set of standards and governance for a Nova Scotia label for flax that is grown and processed here in Nova Scotia.


We submitted an application, back in March 2015, to secure some support to move forward with this process was .

I have been experimenting with flax paper making over the last few weeks to explore different uses for flax. With every trial I have been making slight changes to see what works and what does not work. My first two trials were with flax tow by itself and then a mixture of flax tow and shive. Initially, I did not cut the fibres up before soaking. This created some issues when I tried to put the fibres through the blender. However, with a pair of good scissors, I was able to overcome this hurdle. My next couple experiments will include working with the whole flax plant. I am experimenting soaking one bundle of flax ( cut into ½ “ pieces) overnight before cooking. With the other bunch of flax I am going to skip over the soaking and cook the dried plant (also cut into ½ “ pieces). By keeping all 

measurements and steps the same, besides soak overnight, I want to identify how soaking the flax before cooking it will affect the end product.

Recently, I relocated to the farm on Canard Street.This move will allow me to experiment with flax and development our own TapRoot Fibre Lab product line.


I would like to friendly reminder you that TapRoot Fibre Lab is now on Facebook. If you’d like to say in the loop, I invite you to ‘like’ us on Facebook, just follow this link.

Earth Day at the farm

Posted on

Earth Day at the farm
Tomorrow (Wednesday, April 22nd) is Earth Day and we are marking the occasion with a "How-to build your own compost bin" activity for all ages. Meet at the farm stand at 1736 Church Street at 4:30pm (rain or shine!) for a hands-on tutorial that will demonstrate how you can make your own composting bin from a plastic garbage can.

TapRoot Fibre Lab is in need of a logo!

Posted on by Rhea Hamlin

Attention all graphic designers: TapRoot Fibre Lab is in need of a logo!

TapRoot Fibre Lab is at the next phase. Help us to identify a logo for our new business. We are inviting you to submit a logo design to be shared and voted on via Facebook. The logo with the most likes that best represents our new company will receive a $100 gift basket of local goodies.

Send your submission to Rhea at fibrelab@taprootfarms.ca by April 30th, 2015.


About us: 
We are developing a small scale long line flax fibre processing machinery to transform retted flax into fine linen yarn.

We are offering an alternative to globalized textile industry.

We value sustainable economies.

We hope our equipment will generate localized economic growth in smaller, intentional and rural communities.

We will provide small scale and affordable equipment, expert advice, installation & technical support, and service relating to all aspects of growing and processing flax into fine linen.

We like purple - flax has a purplish blue flower.

We want to see flax products of all kinds available in Atlantic Canada grown and processed in Atlantic Canada.

Click here to learn more about TapRoot Fibre Lab.