Over the following few weeks I’ll be touring the nation in an RV with my household, visiting hemp fiber and grain farms from North Carolina to Oregon and again once more, and writing about my travels right here in Lancaster Farming within the type of a travelogue that paperwork the place I’ve been, the folks I’ve met and the issues I’ve seen.
I’m certain a few of you studying this are rolling your eyes and pondering “right here we go once more with the hemp.” All of us noticed the CBD craze. It flashed within the pan and left lots of people burnt. However I’m not speaking about CBD hemp right here. By no means. Actually, I used to be completely caught off guard by the CBD craze again in 2019.
I used to be certain that when hemp was legalized as a commodity crop by the 2018 Farm Invoice that it could result in an age of innovation and entrepreneurialism. I used to be excited to see what farmers, engineers and artistic enterprise folks would do with such a flexible crop.
However CBD snuck in and hijacked the narrative. And folks went all in, pondering they have been going to strike it wealthy, even when all of the consultants I talked to warned farmers to go gradual, to not plant an excessive amount of, and be sure you have a purchaser lined up earlier than you bought into it. However of us have been blinded by the greenback indicators of their eyes.
The true story of hemp is extra of a gradual burn. And identical to Casey Musgraves, I’m all proper with a gradual burn. The paradigm-shifting potential of hemp is huge, and it’ll take time — time to develop the infrastructure, time to develop the availability chains, time to develop the markets.
And that’s the story I’m excited by telling — an trade growing from nothing. An opportunity to design a complete new means of doing issues. A brand new means of producing. A brand new means of organising provide chains. A brand new solution to develop native economies.
And central to all of it is the farmer.
Hitting the Open Street
I’ve a imaginative and prescient. A imaginative and prescient of a future the place agriculture meets most of our wants, if not all of them. Meals, fiber and gas for certain, however take into account a world the place all of our shopper items are ag-based. What if every little thing now constructed from petrochemical plastic have been to be constructed from bio-based plastics? What if we might construct energy-efficient, comfortable, healthy homes from crops within the subject?
Nicely, it’s all potential. And it’s already taking place. There are folks on the market doing these very issues.
And after the previous yr of working from residence, speaking to hemp farmers and entrepreneurs in Pennsylvania and across the nation on the telephone or over Zoom calls, I’m able to get out into the world and speak to folks in individual, to see with my very own two eyes the work they’re doing.
I need to see how they’re rising fiber hemp in North Carolina in an effort to resurrect the textile industries of the South.
I need to meet the hemp innovators in Kentucky at locations like HempWood the place they make flooring from hemp fibers, or Victory Hemp Meals the place they’re taking the nutritive goodness of the hempseed to new ranges of creativity.
I need to stroll within the hemp fields of Missouri and Kansas, speak to the hemp geneticists and tools producers in Colorado, see the huge fields of hemp stretching to the Huge Sky horizon of Montana.
I need to hear the tales of the trendy pioneers who’re forging their very own future towards a world the place the farmer is revered and rewarded, and carbon is sequestered within the soil and in ag-based uncooked supplies of trade.
I feel hemp is among the most essential tales in agriculture at the moment, and in order an agricultural journalist it’s my sacred responsibility to report on it. My most well-liked medium of reporting is the podcast, largely as a result of I like speaking greater than I like typing.
And so over the following six weeks, I’ll be publishing my weekly podcast from the street, sharing the tales of the folks of America who’re working to deliver the goodness of hemp to us all, in addition to sharing tales and pictures right here within the pages of Lancaster Farming.
I might be touring with my household — my spouse, Heather, and daughters, Iris and Hazel. They too will meet of us from farming communities all around the U.S. And one of many issues that makes me actually proud as a father is to know that my youngsters might be seeing me in motion, a residing instance of how a tiny concept — like beginning a podcast about hemp — can result in one thing really transformational.
I do know this journey is a once-in-a-lifetime alternative. I’m very grateful to Lancaster Farming and our sponsors for serving to me make it occur. It’s humbling to be part of an endeavor akin to this journey. And most of all I’m grateful to God for lining up the items that made this all potential within the first place.
I hope to see you on the sendoff occasion on Monday at Penn State’s Southeast Agricultural Analysis and Extension Middle in Manheim.