The goal is to cultivate, responsibly harvest and transform natural dyes (for textile arts and cooking among other things) in the Cocagne watershed, in order to conserve age-old knowledge, transmit it to residents, and value knowledge bearers (elders and new generations). All the while, we aim to raise awareness as to the importance of local dye plants, their ongoing protection and their uses as alternatives to chemical dyes.

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Want to try natural dyes at home?

Check out these recipe cards to dye fibres in different hues of yellow. Goldenrod, tansy and onion skins offer a rich array of colour in the yellow family.

Start with the What you need, Mordanting and General information cards, then begin dyeing with the plant of your choice!

A brief history

People have been dyeing fibres with plants for thousands of years; it’s only at the turn of the last century that synthetic dyes gained popularity, and they have almost replaced natural dyes.

Cocagne Country Colours is a project that aims to relearn and teach knowledge about natural dyes through workshops, practical educational cards and much more.

Cocagne Country Colours (natural dyes)

Since their beginning in 2019, Cocagne Country Colours has grown a lot. The group offered public workshops on vat dyeing with indigo to get blues and dyeing with plants to obtain various colours including a wide range of yellows.

The group also cultivated and harvested a nice variety of tinctorial plants including indigenous, wild, perennial and annual plants locally, and saves the seeds to ensure their availability and to acclimate the plants to our region.

The group also established contacts with members of the Atlantic Canada Fibershed to discuss a strategy and a panatlantic network of natural textile producers to reinforce the sector and enhance its visibility as well as foster awareness in the public to the advantages of using and supporting sustainable and local textile producers.

To do so, the group has found local fiber animal farmers in New Brunswick and it will be getting the fibers spun locally, in the Atlantic provinces in 2023. This fulfills on of the main objectives of the group, which is to produce a local and sustainable yarn in terms of agriculture, environment and society.

The group is lucky to work with local designers to create original knitting patterns made for Cocagne Country Colours yarns and to produce knitting kits with a pattern and yarn as well as rughooking materials for sale. The group will continue its activities in the coming years.



In collaboration with New Brunswick basketmakers, the group offered a professional development opportunity through a basketry workshop with local fibers with professional artist Ralph Simpson during the Bouctouche Ecofestival.

The basketmakers also explored the application of natural dyes on various basketry fibers.

In 2022, dedicated basketmakers created a salicetum at the Centre 50 de Cocagne seniors centre with the help of members of the community and Blanche-Bourgeois school students. The salicetum is a living structure and willow conservatory and its goal is to create a place where to get different willow varieties for planting and a quiet space for the community; the salicetum is situated by the Centre 50, the community cellar and the walking trail that starts at Blanche-Bourgeois School and follows behind the retirement community. This project could grow over the years.


Cocagne Country Linen (local linen)

The exploration of a local linen source is an initiative that grew rapidly in 2022. The GDDPC started working with a linen expert and purchasing flax seeds that were grown locally to produce different varieties of flax. The community gathered to harvest and seed the flax, then the following steps ensued to prepare the fiber (retting, drying, etc.) Finally, members of the group had the opportunity to go transform the flax into linen fiber at Taproot Fiberlab, a division of Taproot Farms in Nova Scotia.

In 2023, members of the group and volunteers will spin the remaining long fibers to create linen threats that will be spun, dyed and made into clothing.

Thank you and have fun! Check out our Facebook page!
You can find here the report on our basket making workshop (in French).


We acknowledge the financial contribution of New Horizons for Seniors from Service Canada and the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture NB.

Service Canada