Meet the glowing face of this year’s campaign: farmer Franny! Franny is an inspiring farmer that rocks the hemp scene in North Carolina. We feel incredibly blessed to have worked with her this campaign year, and to celebrate Hemp History Week at her farm. Learn more about Franny’s pioneering work in the hemp world!
We grow many things on Franny’s Farm. Our farm is scattered with gardens mixed with perennials and native flowers, herbs, vegetables, berry bushes, nut and fruit trees. We raise sheep and goats, have two Highland cows, a donkey, lots of chickens and our dog Blue. But, if I had to choose just one seed, one crop- it would be hemp. It is the only plant that can feed, clothe and shelter us, has medical benefits, and is ecologically sustainable. I am honored, humbled and bewildered at having this opportunity in North Carolina to be growing industrial hemp for the second year, 2018. My goal in the first grow season was to learn, educate and add value to the hemp movement. As education is a big part of my identity, I’ve challenged myself this year to teach the teachers. My goal is for all those that learn anything from me, to spread that information like a virus. I’ve always said I am a great example of what to do and what not to do. I’m making all the mistakes and telling everyone about it so other farmers don’t have to.
With every opportunity come challenges, and we have had our share. We are growing outdoors and working with mother nature, which means learning to work with pests and weather patterns. However, farming the land is what I love. We planted our first industrial hemp crop in 2017 as part of the NC State Research Project. We sourced seed from Italy due to legalities with transportation, testing and sourcing industrial hemp seed within the US. According to state laws, hemp seeds and clones had to be documented to have less than .3% THC to be legally grown. THC refers to Tetrahydrocannabinols, which is the active chemical in certain medicinal/recreational varieties of cannabis. (*Note: there are no psychoactive effects of consuming any hemp product with less than .3%THC.) Delays in seed transport had us planting our Futura 75 hemp seed a month later than was ideal. We had plowed the fields and literally 7 of us walked in a line cascading hemp seed from a bucket. One of our 0.5 acre test plots was a complete failure while the other 0.5 acre plot was a great learning experience. After a 3 month grow season, we hand-harvested our hemp with machetes, buckets, and a truck.
In collaboration with the Mountain Research Station, we processed two varieties of hemp fiber with two different methods for research into the best fiber varieties. We experimented and donated the entire crop to local artisans, researchers and chefs. We winnowed seed to separate it from the chaff, which is composed of the leaf and flower pieces, and plant fibers. The chaff was used by a local Tea Company, the seed pressed by a local Heirloom Seed Company. The press “cake” was combined with organic ingredients to make “hemp protein balls”. We celebrated the end of the season with a festival called HempX. There were farmer panels, hemp paper-making and weaving workshops, hemp foods and even hemp beer. Farmers, business professionals, vendors, and top researchers and growers in the country and Canada traveled hundreds of miles to NC to collaborate, learn, and share best practices. The take away from the first NC grow of industrial hemp in 2017 was that collectively, we still have a lot to learn and develop to make hemp a viable industry. In 2018, North Carolina has over 300 growers.
The Road Ahead
We have only just begun to see what the hemp industry can be and provide economically, socially, nutritonally, and politically. There is one distinct area where we can make a positive impact. Our first hurdle is in education. The goal is for people to know and understand the many uses of hemp, its therapeutic benefits, and what the difference is between CBD and THC. A great way to do this, is to join the Hemp History Week campaign and educate your community about hemp! The next hurdle is offering more than verbal support. The hemp industry needs consumers to vote with their dollars. Try eating hemp seeds, cook with hemp oil, wear it, build with it, use hemp skin care products, and try health supplement products rich in phyto-cannabinoids. The collective of consciousness is growing and demanding change in policy. This single crop holds the opportunity to revitalize rural communities, industry and innovation. Join the movement!