When deciding which booths and presentations to see during the Asheville, NC Fair (WNC Agricultural Center/Fletcher) we take into consideration 'Faces of Home'. Who is there to represent not only our state but someone who is also bringing recognition of topics of today. Someone who networks outside our state as well.
My first thought is Jeanine Davis, an extension specialist and researcher in the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University. She is located at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center near Asheville in western North Carolina.
One of many research projects is 'Growing Hemp'. I asked Jeanine about the project. She said they are experimenting with growing the hemp for fiber, seed and oil.
She says the seed is a good nutritional product and has a nutty flavor. According to her, most seed product you hear referred to as 'seed hearts' where the outer covering has been removed. The research on the oil product will come later.
I hear so much fuss from people who say "we can't start growing marijuana here". First, hemp is NOT marijuana. Yes, it is in the same family but does not contain high levels of THC ( psychotropic/medicinal purposes). Hemp is an agricultural product; whereas Marijuana is grown as a horticultural product.
This is very good news for farmers who are looking for a new 'specialty crop'. Actually, Hemp is NOT a new crop to the mountains of Western North Carolina! Jeanine and I discussed the fact that farmers actually farmed hemp years ago. I had found an old Agricultural Census (1850 Yancey County) which listed hemp and the various ways it was sold.
Here is how just that part of the Census was listed: 36. Produce during the year ending June 1, 1850 - Hemp - Dew rotted, tons of; 37. Produce during the year ending June 1, 1850 - Hemp - Water rotted, tons of.
Jeanine said, "We are just re-inventing the wheel".
For more information on the projects at the Research Center please refer to the links in this article. You will also find information on growing hops, which was also grown in NC in the 1800's. You can find info about growing Truffles . This is a great resource to help find internships, temp work or just information. Go to: https://newcropsorganics.ces.ncsu.edu/
Susan Tipton-Fox continues the farming and preserving practices that have been passed down to her by her family. She presents on-farm workshops in Yancey County, North Carolina, and growing her on-farm agritourism by promoting "workshop stays" on the farm (extending the farm experience).
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