Updated: Feb 22
Why hemp? I got asked this a lot at the market, and realized not everybody has lived in Humboldt County! However, many people may have had a friend share the virtues of hemp in high school through a hazy cloud and bloodshot eyes… Despite our THC-loving friends the actual favorite benefit of the plant, most of these points hold up:
· Hemp has been used in China for at least 10,000 years. The first archeological record of hemp in China dates back to around 8000 BCE when it was used for textiles, pottery, and paper.
· Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all used and wrote about the medicinal and fiber uses of the Cannabis plant.
· During the age of exploration, hemp sails were used on the ships that carried explorers like Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan to new lands.
· The first American flag was made from hemp.
· Hemp was once so important to American farmers that they were required to grow it by law.
· Cannabis is one of the fastest-growing plants, attaining up to 20’ in a single season.
· Hemp seeds are a source of complete protein and healthy omega fats.
· Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, had a strong interest in industrial hemp and its potential application. He built a car from hemp in 1941, which was designed to run on hemp-based fuel. The "Ford Hemp Body Car," was made from a plastic material that was derived from hemp fibers and soy-based resin. The body of the car was said to be ten times stronger than steel, while also being much lighter.
While the demonization and outlawing of cannabis were indeed due in part to xenophobia and fears of paper companies, this was also reinforced by some people's desire to dictate what inebriants other people can consume..
But alas, finally, in 2018, cannabis was legalized by Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, of all people. I'd sure like to see the handshake deals being made when those guys decided to do that!
Regardless of all this, for the first time in any of our lives, we have a plant that has been outlawed for the last 100 years now open for growing ( if you're willing to pay the fees and keep the THC content low). That should get any botanist and experimental gardener excited!
This year, we're devoting more of the hemp-growing space to fiber varieties. We're focused on breeding, but we'll be using the fiber we produce in hempcrete construction and as a growing medium for our edible mushrooms. We'll also be growing out trial cultivars for the Midwestern Hemp Database.