Mamie's Schoolhouse is part of the Atlantic Canada Fibreshed, which is part of the global Fibreshed movement.

Our business practices are based on the Fibreshed soil to soil model.

Fibreshed aims to relocalize sustainable natural fibre economies to...

  • reduce carbon emissions
  • increase carbon capture farming methods
  • eliminate use of toxic chemicals
  • revitalize ecological fibre traditions
  • protect local, and global, ecosystems
  • reduce waste
  • build socio-economic resiliency in local communities


We produce our own local plant-derived mordants and dyes whenever possible, and without the use of pesticides, herbicides, etc.

We strive to support local Cape Breton producers, purchasing sheep and alpaca fibres directly from island farmers for use in our workshops and our artisanal products.

We look forward to the day when we can purchase locally produced linen too, as there is an exciting revitalization of this tradition currently happening in various parts of Nova Scotia.

By being a local buyer for island fibre farmers and growers, we hope to help to sustain and grow their livelihoods.

When we need to purchase elsewhere, we do so as locally as possible and through fair trade organizations.

We are committed to low impact, zero waste, up-cycled approaches, and to championing and preserving the ancient human heritage of natural fibres and natural dyes.

Our new teaching studio is currently being built on a 70 acre organic property fronting the North River and the Cabot Trail. Since purchasing the property in 2012, Mamie's Schoolhouse founder Mel Sweetnam has re-introduced many native Acadian Forest ecosystem species, including Black Walnut (Juglans nigra), Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina), Witch Hazel (Hamemalis virginiana), Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia), Wild Raisin (Vibernum cassinoides), Ninebark (Physocarpus), two different native Cherries (Prunus), Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), and a number of other perennials. Many of these plants have mordant and/or dye properties, but more importantly, their re-introduction helps to diversify the local ecosystem, shoring up its resilience while providing food and habitat for a wide variety of fauna.

Non-native species have also been planted, but only if they are not invasive and if they address a need - i.e. they are a human food plant, dye plant, or soothe the soul.

Some well known dye plants that can be invasive (e.g. Madder) are grown in isolated raised beds where their roots can be easily contained and prevented from escaping into the surrounding wilderness, and/or harvested before they go to seed, to prevent accidental dispersal.



Cape Breton Island sheep.