THE ORGANIC DIFFERENCE
ALVAREZ FARMS, NEW MEXICO
The Organic Difference
Alverez Farms, New Mexico
When we heard that Dosi Alvarez was converting 178 acres of conventional cotton to organic, we stepped in to buy his crop. It’s part of our commitment to changing the way clothes are made.
A third generation cotton farmer in New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley, Dosi Alvarez knows what it’s like to spend time in fields full of chemicals. “We’d spray all day and if a nozzle got jammed, we’d clean it out with our bare hands,” he recalls. “We didn’t have time to go take a shower.”
When his son was born in 1992, he decided it was time to go organic. “I had a new baby,” says Dosi, “and a barn full of herbicides and insecticides. I looked around and thought, ‘this is not going to be good.’ ”
Dosi converted 20 acres and then 20 more. “Everybody wants that piece of paper that says organic, but getting there is three years of no chemical inputs and during that time basically you lose money,” explains Norma Alvarez, Dosi’s wife and business partner. “It meant a lot that EILEEN FISHER stepped in to buy our transitional crop.”
Those 178 acres of cotton were the start of a new relationship: We designated Alvarez Farms as our primary provider of extra long staple organic cotton.
“We feel like we’re growing for Eileen,” says Dosi. “There’s satisfaction in knowing where your cotton is going.”
For us, there’s equal satisfaction. We’re able to tell the story of our best-selling Organic Cotton Stretch Jersey (OJ)—starting in the field. Here’s how Dosi grows our cotton:
- No synthetic fertilizers. Nitrogen is supplied by cover crops such as alfalfa; and fields are nourished with manure, delivered from a local dairy and aged for three years.
- No synthetic herbicides. Weeds are Dosi’s biggest issue—and labor to remove them is his biggest cost. Instead of spraying, he uses a cultivator outfitted with wires to cut weeds. Crews with hoes then go over the fields.
- No synthetic pesticides. In the Mesilla Valley, two big cotton pests—the boll weevil and the pink boll worm—have been eradicated. Dosi takes care of most pests with beneficial bugs, including ladybugs, lacewings and pirate