Urban hemp farming offers Tennessee farmers new alternative

Published: Oct. 14, 2019 at 2:52 PM EDT
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Flooding and droughts made 2019 a difficult year for East Tennessee farmers, whose production is often at the mercy of weather conditions.

Tennessee Representative Rick Staples hopes indoor farming can offer an alternative for those who want to make a living growing food, hemp or even medical marijuana.

Staples recently hosted a town hall meeting with the Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, Dr. Charlie Hatcher. Both mentioned that state grants could be available next year specifically for urban farmers.

"We know for sure that farmers, especially urban farmers, can create new jobs. So, let's incentivize and encourage that job creation," Representative Staples said.

Hemp is a popular crop that is attracting people who want to grow the plant indoors, in completely climate-controlled conditions. This version of cannabis without THC can be used for CBD oil, fiber and more.

"Hemp is a big opportunity for a lot of people. There's demand for the oil. There's demand for the fiber," Dr. Hatcher said.

Leaders acknowledge that more education is a key component to success. The Sustainable Future Center is leading the way in education that can help farmers learn alternative growth methods.

"We had a number of workshops where I was surprised at the number of hemp growers that came. We did an aquaponics class not too long ago," Founder of the Sustainable Future Center, David Bolt said. "And out of the 30 people that came, about 8 or 10 of them had hemp licenses."


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