Beyond CBD

A Sullivan initiative to develop industrial hemp production

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 5/12/21

MONTICELLO, NY — ”We’re not talking about its more infamous partner in crime,” said sustainability coordinator Heather Brown last Thursday. They aren’t even talking …

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Beyond CBD

A Sullivan initiative to develop industrial hemp production

Posted

MONTICELLO, NY — ”We’re not talking about its more infamous partner in crime,” said sustainability coordinator Heather Brown last Thursday. They aren’t even talking about CBD. 

The county is exploring the growing of industrial hemp. Think fabric, rope, paper, furniture, food and building materials. 

The idea, spearheaded by chairman Rob Doherty and Brown, would spur the development of industrial hemp farming in the county. Brown laid out the ideas at the May 6 economic development committee meeting. “The cultivation of industrial hemp could present a pretty exciting opportunity for Sullivan County,” she said. The Office of Sustainable Energy is currently in discussions with Cornell Cooperative Extension and SUNY Sullivan. 

“We do think this is something that could be cultivated and processed locally, which benefits not just our farmers [and] the economy but also the environment and human health,” Brown said. 

Beyond its uses as material, fiber and food, hemp can also be made into a bioplastic. European Bioplastics says that means it is “either biobased, biodegradable, or features both properties.”

Hemp is specifically singled out for its carbon-sequestering properties, Brown said. 

“We have farmers in the county who are very well positioned to take advantage.” Consider the problems in the dairy industry. Those fields and hayfields could be converted to hemp. Plus “hemp helps replenish agricultural soils and removes heavy metals,” she said.  “You don’t need the black soil to grow hemp.”

George Conklin asked whether manufacturing facilities could follow.

“An entrepreneur,” she said, “would look at Sullivan and say, ‘Hey, this is a great opportunity.’”

“This is a new concept,” said Mike Brooks. “Farmers have been looking for ‘OK, what else can I do?’ It’s important to start the conversation.”

Still more hemp news

The Center for Discovery in Hurleyville is conducting a study with SUNY Sullivan, college president Jay Quaintance reported. 

“We’re looking at six different genetic varieties,” seeing what’s harvestable, when and what will grow well in the county. “All hemp can be used for multiple properties... every part of the plant is usable,” he said.

Hemp, yes—marijuana, no

Colleen Monaghan, executive director of Cornell Cooperative in Sullivan, reported that Cornell Cooperative Extension will not advise farmers on the growing of marijuana. “We are prohibited from helping people grow marijuana at this time. We are referring callers to the farm bureau,” she said.

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