Harvest Tour to Include Cotton’s Path from Dirt to Shirt

A 2013 photo of a Cotton Harvester in the field. Source: TS Designs, Burlington NC.
A 2013 photo of a Cotton Harvester in the field. Source: TS Designs, Burlington NC.

Spend the day with TS Designs of Burlington NC on Saturday, October 15, 2016, starting at 10am, and follow the path cotton takes from the fields to processing to fabric to “Cotton of the Carolinas” t-shirts.

This Harvest Tour is an educational opportunity for ages 12 and up to find out where their cotton clothing comes from. The day starts at Rolling Hills Gin, 29107 Kendalls Church Road, New London, North Carolina. The tour leaders, Wes Morgan and Ronnie Burleson, will show-and-tell how their cotton gets processed, followed by a tour of the production facility. If you want to see cotton ginned with your own eyes, come on out to Rolling Hills and arrive before 10am when the tour begins.

Before leaving the Gin and heading out to the cotton field, the group will break for lunch at noon. Boxed lunches from a local co-op — Company Shops Market — may be purchased with tour tickets for an additional fee.  Tourists are also welcome to pack a lunch.

After lunch, everyone will meet at the cotton field — which is currently being harvested and gather there by 1pm. Depending on which field is scheduled for harvest, it may be a short or less-short drive to the field, and the details will be provided at the Gin. Guests may even get the opportunity to ride a harvester as the fluffy crop is harvested!

Following the educational trip on the harvester — the farmer has offered to give each person a ride — and along the cotton field, the event will wrap up around 3pm, give or take a little.

Tickets will be available for $5 that include the tour through the production facility and cotton fields, with the box lunches available for an additional fee of $13 ($18 total). The tour is open to adults and children 12 years old and up.

More about the Rolling Hills Gin is on their website at www.rollinghillsgin.com. Be prepared to see some beautiful NC countryside driving to the Rolling Hills Gin, and then driving to the cotton field. Be sure to wear good, comfortable walking shoes.

To purchase tickets and find out more about the schedule, box lunches, and tour guides, visit TS Designs’ Tour Ticket webpage. For more information, call 336.229.6426.

TS Designs is headquartered at 2053 Willow Spring Lane, Burlington NC. Their sustainability extends beyond the business to include employee gardens, grape arbors, beehives, chickens, a solar array, biodiesel delivery truck, and more.

Founded in 1977, TS Designs began as a small, manual screen printing operation. Within a few years, the company was fully automated and printing shirts for big brands; however, after the 1993 implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, TS Designs saw business moved to other countries to lower costs. Instead of calling it quits, then-CEO Tom Sineath and president Eric Henry turned to fellow business owner and longtime friend, Sam Moore, for a new direction. Sam introduced Tom and Eric to the triple-bottom-line business model focused on three equally important bottom lines: People, the Planet, and Profits. Tom and Eric became part of the Green Movement.

Their focus today continues to be green, considering environment, social impact, and local sourcing. To keep with that focus, TS Designs developed Cotton of the Carolinas, a network of local farmers and manufacturers who moved cotton “from dirt to shirt” in a transparent process that appealed to their green-oriented customer base. Initially processing locally-grown organic cotton, they soon expanded to include cotton grown across the state, and later across the US. Creation of the Mindful Supply transport service added a new component to their sustainability model.

Like Eric Henry says:

You can help us be a successful example of a triple bottom line business as we continuously work to improve our social and environmental influence. Order your shirts from TS Designs!

To find out more about TS Designs and its sustainable initiatives, check out the facebook pages for TS Designs, Cotton of the Carolinas, and Mindful Supply.

The tour organizers ask that folks use the event hashtag #TSDCottonHarvest for spreading the word.


Note: Prior to the tour, TS Designs has a facilities tour coming up on October 10, 2016, starting at 3pm. Guests may visit the TS Designs boutique, tour their food-producing employee gardens at their Production facility in Burlington NC. The tour is free and open to the public. If guests want to get a preview and learning a little about TS Designs before attending the harvest tour, join this facilities tour.

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About Kay Whatley 2309 Articles
Kay Whatley serves as Editor and Reporter with The Grey Area News. Kay is a published author with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. Kay Whatley is wife to Frank Whatley, founder of The Grey Area™ newspaper and The Grey Area News online news website.