Even if you know nothing about small towns, you probably know that we love to gossip when someone fails to blend. And of course we hate to be the target of said gossip. So when your “better” half seeds 600 areas of hemp (yes, the non-medicinal look alike to marijuana) around your house it stimulates interesting conversation at home and in town.
From the city? Have no concept of how big 600 acres is? Think twice the size of Toronto’s High Park or half the size of Vancouver’s Stanley Park.
Anyways, we finished harvesting the hemp this week so I am hoping the “tourist” photo-ops in the lane are over and we are replaced by something juicier on the town conversation list. But I thought you might find the answers to some of our more common questions interesting.
1 – Is it legal?
You bet! Industrial hemp has been grown in Canada since 1998. We need a licence to grow it and have to account for where we get our seed and sell the crop.
2 – Is it medicinal?
Nope. Hemp has been bred to have low levels of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). You could smoke this stuff all day and get nothing more than a cough.
3 – Aren’t you worried someone will grow real-pot in your field to hide it?
Again – nope! Hemp produces male and female plants. Its basic biology from there – males must fertilize females to set seed. An illegal plot hidden in a hemp field would be a dismal failure because the female marijuana plants would be overwhelmingly fertilized by the male industrial hemp plants and would produce low THC buds.
4 – What is it used for?
We sell the seed which is can be split and sold as hemp hearts in health food stores or crushed for oil. Although there is lots of interest in hemp as a fibre there is no commercial market for the plant material at this time.
5 – Is hemp GMO or organic?
Hemp is not GMO. Traditional breeding techniques to used to lower the THC. Organic is a production approach rather than a characteristic of the crop. We are not organic farmers. On our help fields we fertilize the crop to ensure it is not deficient in any nutrients.
Hemp is only one of several specialty crops on our farm. Juggling a bunch of commodities definitely takes more management and work but we find it is worth it because growing a number of different crops spreads out our risk for both production failure and market volatility. Besides, it give everyone something to talk about.