Mulberries Organic Silk Farm
Location: Phonsavan district, Xieng Khouang. Mulberries Gift Shop in Vientiane: Nokeo Koumane Road, opposite Duang Deune Hotel, Vientiane . Among other things, the province of Xieng Khouang has always been synonymous with fine Laotian silk, the tradition of which dates back for centuries. Mulberries Organic Silk Farm, in the Phonsavan District of Xieng Khouang Province, is an establishment that aims to promote silk production as a way to generate income to families in surrounding areas while preserving the vanishing art of Laotian weaving. This non-profit company, certified both by Fairtrade and Lao Organic Department, grows their own chemical-free mulberry trees. Mulberry leaves are the staple diet of silk worms, which are raised here for four months, after which their silk cocoon is collected and reeled. The dyeing process that follows makes use of indigenous plants (such as indigo, jackfruit, and tamarind), which produce deep and rich colours. Once the thread is spun, it is given to village women who take them home to weave in their spare time. The silk farm then buys back the finished products to sell in their gift shops here and in Vientiane. Prior to that, the women attend workshops and learn how to make and use natural dyes, and the complex art of incorporating traditional designs into their creations. Visitors can view all the silk making process right here in the house. There are guided tours in English. If you are lucky enough, you may catch a glimpse of Miss Kommaly, who will tell you how she started this environmental-friendly cooperative 20 years ago. Her tireless work to empower local women and ethnic minority groups by raising their incomes through weaving earned her the 2005 nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. Mulberries gift shop features beautiful plain silk scarves in a variety of rich colours, patterned throws and cushion covers and fabrics by the metre. Some patterns and home furnishing fabrics can be ordered. Mulberries Silk Farm in Xieng Khouang Province can be reached by plane from Vientiane. Lao Airlines operates three flights a week from Vientiane to Xieng Khouang. There is also a bus service from Vientiane that takes about 10 hours. If you can’t travel to Xieng Khouang, there is a Mulberries shop in Vientiane selling the same products.