Hemp farms in Rowan County? Dude, farmers are high on the idea

Industrial hemp research farm in Kentucky
Industrial hemp research farm in Kentucky Lexington Herald-Leader

The prospect of growing industrial hemp for a living in Rowan County is apparently a hot topic.

A planned “Lunch and Learn” seminar for farmers interested in growing industrial hemp drew so much interest that organizers have had to move the 10 a.m. meeting Wednesday to a bigger spot. They expected 40 farmers, but nearly 110 have registered, said Waylon Saunders, director of farming operations at organizer Founder’s Hemp.

A waiting list has close to 10 more people on it, he added.

The seminar is now set for Wednesday at the Rowan County Extension Office, 2727 Old Concord Road in Salisbury. It was originally set for the NC Department of Agriculture Piedmont Research Station in Salisbury, officials said.

Industrial hemp has many uses, including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, health food, and fuel. It is grown in more than 30 countries, and it has been legal to import hemp products into the United States for many years, according to a press release from Founders Hemp.

The federal Agricultural Act of 2014 called for universities and state departments of agriculture to begin cultivating domestic industrial hemp.

This year, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation allowing the production of industrial hemp across the state under the provisions of the federal legislation, Founders Hemp says.

The session in Salisbury will include discussions of the roles of the Department of Agriculture and N.C. State University in researching hemp production, concerns for law enforcement and farming information from experienced hemp farmers.

Speakers will include Sandy Stewart, director of the Research Stations Division of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and a member of the N.C. Hemp Commission; Angela Post, small grains extension specialist at N.C. State; Keith Edmisten, professor of crop science at N.C. State; Sam Page, Rockingham County sheriff; Bob Crumley, president of Founder’s Hemp; and Scott Shoulars, agronomist.

Other presenters include Tom Hutchens, president of Kentucky Hemp Seed Research and Development; Rick Trojan, Colorado hemp farmer; and Garry Meier, Canadian hemp farmer and processor.

For details: Waylon@foundershemp.com