The Future of Sustainable Hemp 

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Gaia Grows

Kathleen Miller

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Gaia’s Farm and Gardens

Sustainable living, gardening and farming is based on an understanding of ecosystems, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It has been defined as an integrated system of plant and animal production practices that will last over time. Having a harmonious relationship with Gaia (Mother Earth) provides food for people enhances the natural environment upon which the community depends, makes efficient use of resources and integrates natural cycles that sustain economic viability as well as enhances the quality of life for the community as a whole.

Hemp Hemp Hooray

The Future of Sustainable Hemp 

“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.” ― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax.

Dr. Seuss wrote about the significance of environmental awareness back in 1971 in his book, The Lorax.  Through his whimsical and creative storytelling style, speaking through The Lorax, Dr. Seuss speaks like an environmental advocate.  The deep meaning of The Lorax is that we need to educate humanity about the importance of environmental stewardship which is our best hope for nurturing sustainable development of the agricultural industrial hemp industry.  Green industries such as industrial agricultural hemp offer opportunities for more long-term profits though sustainable regenerative farming practices. Dr. Seuss’ timeless literary classic The Lorax reminds us that anyone can make a difference and we are all important in creating a greener more sustainable world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8V06ZOQuo0k

According to Duane Stjernholm, co-founder and operator of The Colorado Hemp Processing Cooperative or CHPC, “the agricultural hemp industry is still in the wild west”.   It is important to remember that hemp has only been off the federal schedule 1 drug list since last December. Agricultural hemp cultivation for producing industrial hemp, by definition, is hemp that is grown from seed to seed at 75-90 plants per square yard.  It is fully mechanized from seed to sale, and it encompasses whole plant processing.  This is in contrast to CBD hemp which is grown with only female plants, requires a lot of hand work and additional expense, and is planted approximately one plant every 3 feet.   

CBD hemp growers, like medical and recreational THC cannabis growers, only utilize the flower of the plant and let the rest of the plant go to waste.  Currently CBD growing is enticingly lucrative. Once the CBD supply and demand curves cross, much more emphasis will be placed on agricultural hemp cultivation and the agricultural hemp commodities market will grow into the millions of acres like corn or wheat.

The Colorado Hemp Processing Cooperative is a Tier 1 processor and will take the whole hemp plant and produce four raw materials which it will sell to Tier 2 processors and manufacturers.  These four products are seed, flower, and the two constituent fiber parts of the stalks, namely the bast (outer bark) and the hurd (inner pith).  These four raw materials can be converted into thousands of products and so it will take an extremely long time for all of these markets to be fully saturated.  In addition new uses and markets for these four raw materials are developing.  Because the vast majority of hemp now is being grown for the CBD market, phase one of the CHPC’s business plan is to take the waste stalks from the CBD and cannabis industries and turn that waste into biochar which can be utilized for the expedition of both soil remediation and water filtration in addition to a number of other uses. 

Growers need education about agricultural hemp cultivation and how they can make more money from hemp than corn, wheat, hay, etc.  CHPC is currently in the process of raising the necessary funds from new shareholders to build the first prototype, showcasing the whole plant processing facility.  They plan to replicate that facility in the six regions around Colorado and other states as demand dictates.  The ultimate goal is to have similar cooperatives in every state and every cooperative be a shareholder in every other cooperativeThe Colorado Hemp Processing Cooperative will be interdependent, collaborative and able to share information on growing agricultural hemp such as best practices, equipment, cultivars, sales and marketing of raw materials, new product development etc. 

The plan is to divide the state of Colorado into 6 regions and also set up local “councils” in each region to maintain local control and then they can interact with the other regional “councils” around the state.  The CHPC also will have the capability to keep the funds raised from shareholders in each region in a separate accounting account so the money can be utilized in that region for the whole plant regional processing facilities.  This cooperative model is unique and not business as usual as hemp has the potential to bring very much needed economic stimulus to rural America. This big picture vision is being sought after because this model will reward the people doing the work and those who need the most economic stimulus.  The Colorado Hemp Processing Cooperative has a long-term, big picture vision regarding the future possibilities of sustainable agriculturally grown industrial hemp.  

Dr. Seuss knew that what ultimately moves people to act on the environment is awareness and a love for Mother Earth (Gaia). With his remarkable combination of environmental activism and whimsy, his esoteric environmentalism continues to be heard through the veil of time by both children and adults alike.  Maybe a more sustainable future is possible for agricultural industrial hemp with a little help from Mother Nature (Gaia).  

UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.-Dr. Seuss

For more information on the Colorado Hemp Processing Cooperative visit https://www.cohpc.org