291. Industrial Hemp Project | Rodale Institute | Senior Lab Technician | Tara Caton

Hey there, Green Future Growers. Thanks for joining us today. If you’re new to the show, I hope you’ll subscribe on iTunes or your favorite Android app, and let’s get growing.

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Get your copy of the Organic Oasis Guidebook, helping you create an earth friendly environment today available on Amazon. It’s full of all the lessons from free organic garden course that Mike and I put together to help you grow your very own Organic Oasis, whether you just want to landscape or some deep beds, it’s a perfect book. It’s got all the worksheets and everything to help you be successful and have a lovely organic oasis that you want to live in too. 

Tara 

00:00:46

They’re based institution, but we’re also an education institution. And so it’s a really unique opportunity to get to conduct science and learn more as much as we can about organic agriculture and, and also to provide that information to the public and to our farmers. 

Jackie 

00:01:04

This is why I love you guys. That was so eloquent and so perfect. And I don’t know if I hit record quick enough, but yeah. See, and like it’s so funny, cause it kind of started this listener in Texas sent me this video. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it on YouTube. It’s called a Gotta love millennials and he sings bashing millennials songs to the Beatles Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da song. Anyway. So I like recorded one with me, singing it with all like the great things about millennials and cause he’s like, Oh, they just sit around in their yoga pants at the coffee shop and yada yada, and actually, you know, it doesn’t really my generation. 

Jackie 

00:01:49

I think that tries to do that. I don’t know, surely none of the money also. I talked to her, anything remotely like that. And then, and then I put like the pictures of the, all the kids that I have, I call them kids. Cause my stepdaughters are both millennials who I also think are rock star moms and millennials and cartridges are so hardworking. And, but I need to like record it properly. Like she can’t really, like, I sing it in my car and my headphones. I can’t really hear it. And then also like I’ve found out some of the kids I thought were not actually millennials and then I’ve added. So anyway. Yeah. That’s that project, but yeah. So anyway, you are a perfect example. So I’ll just introduce you when we’ll go from there. 

Jackie 

00:02:30

Awesome. Oh, but yeah. So the funny thing is about this kid from Texas who sends it to me. He’s like Jackie, every time I hear you say rockstar, millennial, I think of this video. And then afterwards he’s like, Oh, I’m a millennial. He’s so funny anyway. And it’s so it’s just a, yeah. Anyway, I am one of the few shows that I guess talks about politics and gardening. But the interesting thing about that is I was going through some older Rodale’s magazines. I’ve been working on this free garden course and like, so I was looking for some things from back in the like early two thousands of episodes. I was like trying to find a lot of my listeners are curious about like how to get rid of pests organically. 

Jackie 

00:03:10

That’s like a huge question. I get a lot. And so I was reading these and like so many letters to the editor. Like I’m never subscribing to you again, you have too much politics and Rodale’s would always write back, well, we’re sorry you feel that way. But we very feel strongly that, you know, sustainable agriculture and caring for our planet is part of politics. And so yeah, love that. And it’s funny because I started my podcast because I always dreamed about being a sales person for organic gardening magazine. Like I just wanted everybody to read it. I wanted it to be in every single store everywhere I went and we used to travel a lot. I had like a craft business. So we would travel all around at craft shows. So I would go into a lot of grocery stores and convenience stores in the, like all the way down to California. 

Jackie 

00:03:54

Like I always tell people, I have probably made copies if you’ve ever traveled with me. You’ve probably sat outside of a coffee shop, like in every coffee shop from here to Washington, South California, over to Arizona and North back to Montana, like in this little Northwest loop. And I always wanted to see organic gardening magazine on the, in the magazine reps. Anyway, I’m going to be quiet because my listeners are always telling me, Jackie, you interrupt and talk too much. My number one critic is my mom, but at least she’s listening. Right. So today’s show is all about you and the amazing project you’ve got going on. So I’ll introduce you and we’ll go from there. Awesome. Okay. Welcome to the, your kindergarten podcast today. 

Jackie 

00:04:35

It is Tuesday, March 26, 2019. And I am so excited because not only do I have a rock star millennial on the line, but she works at the Rodale Institute. She is the lead senior lab technician on the industrial hemp project. So here today, talk to us as Tara Caton, sorry, Tara. Welcome to the show. 

Tara 

00:04:57

Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. 

Jackie 

00:04:59

Thank you. I mean already, like in the pre-chat you’ve already like been so eloquent and just a great, you know, talking about education and the opportunity you have going there. So, but before we get into that, like I always ask about your very first gardening experience. Like, were you a kid, were you an adult? Who were you with? What you grow? Like what, what was your first, was it help at the Rodale Institute or like what’s your first gardening experience? 

Tara 

00:05:27

Yeah, so it kind of has been something that’s been ingrained in me since I was a child. I grew up with a pretty large property in a wooded area and we had quite a bit of land that we were always playing with planting different flowers and ornamentals and, and just different things. And I just remember, you know, pretty much always being barefoot in the soil and just getting my hands dirty. And so that’s my earliest memory. And I would say that, you know, as I went into college to pursue a degree in the science field, I think I lost sight of that for a little bit. 

Tara 

00:06:07

And, you know, as I started to learn more and take courses, it kind of all came back to me and it realized that was where I really came from. And so I, when I took my first spot in the course in my sophomore year of my undergraduate degree, I was totally reconnected with my love of plants and the environment. And so I pursued a degree from there at a local university at Kutztown university and I got my bachelor’s in biology and I then went on to Bucknell university also in Pennsylvania and pursued a degree in botany and got my master’s there. 

Tara 

00:06:48

And, and so, you know, I had this amazing ability at both institutions to, to play with plants. So I took care of both of the greenhouses there and it just really reconnected to the memories I had when I was a child. And, and so, you know, from there I had, you know, quite a bit of education in different areas of botany and agriculture. Wasn’t something that I was super familiar with, but I thought coming back to Kutztown where I got my first degree was a great opportunity and learning more about the Rodale Institute and really the global impact. It has. It really touched on my goal, which is, I, I don’t know what I wanted to do when I was in college, but I knew that I wanted to make a difference. 

Tara 

00:07:37

And I knew that I wanted to be a part of figuring out how we’re going to feed the world as we move forward. And so I really believe that working for this institution that not only conducts original solutions based research in organic agriculture, but it’s also has this education aspect. So getting to go out there and educate the public and, and teach farmers on how to do this and how we can continue to, to farm in this way. And, and yeah, so I really feel that I have the opportunity being here and it pretty much came full circle and, you know, agriculture is not something that I had expected and now I can’t imagine anything else. 

Jackie 

00:08:21

That’s so interesting. And I love that on so many fronts because I always say, like, I tell my stepkids and kids, like, you don’t have to know what you want to do when you go to college, because you’re going to take a bunch of gen EDS and you’re going to meet people sitting next to you that are like, Hey, my cousin’s sister so-and-so does exactly what you would love. Like I took this wildflower class, like on how to, you know, go out in the woods and like do a survey of the areas because somebody in one of my cuts, like I took the class so I could get the job at the forest service, I got the job and then it didn’t quite work out. But like, anyway, cause I got lost in the woods. 

Jackie 

00:09:03

It just wasn’t for me, like, anyway, it’s kind of funny, like back then, like anyway, but that’s a different story, but I love all this. So what do you educate people about? And like, do you want to tell it like, so I wrote down this quote from the website, it says over the course of a four-year trial, we’re exploring hems powerful potential to heal soil and support farmers. Hemp marijuana is non psychotropic. Cousin was grown in Pennsylvania for more than 260 years as a valuable cash crop. So do you want to, I don’t know. What do you want to tell us? You said you like, I don’t know. I’ll let you talk. 

Tara 

00:09:36

Yeah. So I always like to start with introducing a little bit more about the Rodale Institute for those who do not know, and then go on on how the hemp research fits into that. Perfect. So the Rodale Institute has been around for a long time. We opened our research institution in 1947 and we have now a 333 acre research and education farm in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. And we conduct solutions-based research on organic agriculture and kind of all of the challenges that go along with that and how to combat some of those and, and really to ultimately help farmers transition to organic. 

Tara 

00:10:19

And so it’s a really great place to be because you have that opportunity to conduct research and educate the public and spread a global message. And so we have the impact to do that. All right. But yes. So our, our founder J I Rodale, he started talking about this idea of regenerative, agriculture, regenerative, organic agriculture, and he, he put that term out there, but didn’t quite have the tools to define it, really the idea around it. You hear the word sustainable a lot and sustainable is, you know, it’s something good to consider, but sustainable means to stay the same. 

Tara 

00:11:07

And so really the difference there with regenerative it’s it’s to rebuild. And so that’s something we really need to think about as we move forward with our ever-changing climate, we don’t want to just sustain what we’re already doing. We want to be able to rebuild it and make it better. And so that those tools that we work on here is to, is to really accomplish that. And so our, our founder Gero Dell in 1947, he wrote on the chalkboard that healthy soil equals healthy food equals healthy people. And to me, that is really the impact of all the research we do. 

Tara 

00:11:47

And so we work on making those connections and we really think that hemp is, is a crop. It’s a really, it’s a new crop because we’re missing a pretty large gap in data on, on this crop. It was banned over 80 years ago because of its close relationship to the marijuana plant. But we know before that it was a major cash crop and it has been grown historically in Pennsylvania, specifically for over 250 years prior to that ban. And so we really think that this is a, a new crop that you can bring in to increase diversity in your crop rotation, which is something that we think is, is key in regenerative, organic agriculture. 

Tara 

00:12:38

It’s also something that has the natural ability to suppress weeds, which is a major challenge for organic farmers. And, and it’s also, it’s a crop that requires less space and less water and, you know, less inputs in general than for example, cotton as a textile crop. And so there is so much potential with this plant, not only the agronomic benefits that I just mentioned to you, but we know that there’s a huge economic benefit, which is super important, especially because we’re here to serve our farmers. And so we’re always looking for new tools that, you know, they can add to their toolbox to kind of combat some of the other costs that might be associated with organic farming. 

Tara 

00:13:26

And so, you know, we started this study when the Pennsylvania pilot program launched as well as it had in many other States around the time of 2015, 2016. You know, I think it was 38 States have currently have pilot programs. And then of course, hemp coming off the federal listing with the recent farm bill, you know, helped aid that to help farmers start to really, to grow hemp again. So in 2017 at the Rodale Institute, we are one of 16 organizations in Pennsylvania to receive a research pilot permit. 

Tara 

00:14:07

And we planted hemp in the spring of 2017 for the first time in over 80 years. So we’re really excited about that just to get that seed in the ground and really see where it can grow from there, no pun intended. And so, so we were really excited about this. So, you know, but, but there’s a lot of no, and we’re not going to figure it out. We most certainly have not figured it out in the last two years and, and we still have a lot to do. And so I would say that, you know, my one warning or piece of advice is, you know, just because now we have the ability to legally grow this crop. Let’s not forget that we still have a lot to learn. 

Tara 

00:14:49

And we, we still have a lot of work to do and, you know, questions to answer. And so we’re going to continue to build our research and try to get some of those answers. So we have currently two trials here at the Rodale Institute. We have a variety trial where we’re really just taking the, the breeds that are available to us, the seed genetics that are available, you know, from other countries that have never stopped growing hemp and, and seeing how they grow here, you know, cause that’s a big question and we knew it used to grow here, you know, a long time ago, but since then our soil and climatic conditions have changed drastically. And so we want to be able to take these genetics that weren’t bred to grow here and figure out how our environmental conditions impact those varieties. 

Tara 

00:15:38

And, and, and then eventually work on breeding varietals that will suit our soil climatic conditions here. And so we started with some fiber varieties, some seed or grain varieties and some dual-purpose varieties here. We really feel that the industrial hemp in comparison to the CBD that you hear a lot about has the great potential to give some of those agronomic benefits. I mentioned earlier, weed suppression, building soil and, and, and so on. So, 

Jackie 

00:16:13

So can I just quickly ask one other, like, you maybe are going to talk about this, but like something my husband points out a lie is that like, he thinks a lot of art it’s like people like we’re losing hemp because the animal feed used to have so much hemp seed and like the benefit you got from hemp seed. And then now that the animals aren’t like, that’s another thing that it would be really good to use for animal feed. 

Tara 

00:16:38

Yeah, definitely. Yeah. We, we definitely agree with that. You know, obviously there are a lot of restrictions when it comes to animal feed. So I think it’s going to be about getting this crop up and going again, we already know the great potential it has as a super food for us. And so it’s really about getting this information and this re research and data out there to allow policymakers to approve it as an animal feed. And so we’re not there yet. And I’m hoping with some of the work that us along with many other institutions across the country can provide that information and allow it to be a feed for animals. And so I think it’s just continuing this type of research so that we can get there, especially if, you know, you are looking, if you have a PR animal production system, you’re going to want to have it as an approved feed for your animals. 

Tara 

00:17:33

So, yeah, so we’re really, you know, continuing our research here on that and our second trial that kind of fits into our second trial here, where we’re looking at the use of hemp incorporated into an organic grain rotation as a cover crop and a cash crop simultaneously. So for those who aren’t familiar with cover cropping, it’s just, it’s a crop in between your cash crops to keep vegetation on the soil at all times to hold on to that soil organic matter. And so another comparison to hemp in, in terms of when it grows and how it grows would be sorghum, Sudan, grass, and, and that’s a cover crop that’s used as a, usually a summer cover crop before you get your small grains in to, you know, keep vegetation on the soil, suppress weeds and, and hold onto that soil organic matter. 

Tara 

00:18:34

And so we planted hemp in 2017 next to sorghum Sudan grass as a comparison. And that was in the first year of our rotation. And we followed that up with a rye cover crop, which we then rolled down and we planted our cash crop, which was soybeans this past year into that roll down mulch layer. You know, if you’re not familiar with the roll-down system, a roller crimper, it was really invented here at the Rideau Institute by our chief executive. And so that’s a tool that is used to reduce plowing or tillage in your field. 

Tara 

00:19:15

And so that’s something that is also beneficial to soil health, because as I mentioned before, our mission really starts with soil health. And so everything we do, that’s the foundation of it. 

Jackie 

00:19:28

I was just going to say really quick. I’m so glad we did this because like I read through all the data that you had there. And I was like, where are they playing soybeans? Like, because of course, does it ever occur to me? Oh, you’re trying to get a cash crop. So that makes so much sense. Now the soybeans are the cash crop. Cool. And I just interviewed, and maybe you’ll talk to him too. Jesse Frost, who has, he just started a new podcast called the no till farmers podcast. And he was talking a lot about all of these and kind of explaining that crimper system show, but it’s always good to have more people talk about it and just keep going. You’re doing wonderful. Thank you so much. Yeah, this is awesome. 

Tara 

00:20:06

And so not only does incorporating hemp into that rotation that we kind of already have set based on the information that we have from our farming systems trial, which is over 40 years of data of a side-by-side organic, conventional grain cropping system. It’s the largest and longest running in North America. And so we have 40 years of data that showed the type of rotation that could work in organic agriculture. And so hemp is really, it’s just another crop to plug in there. And, and what’s awesome about it. Is it duals as a cover crop and a cash crop because most cover crops don’t have a high economic value, but we know that hemp does it’s, it’s high value and it has over 25,000 uses. 

Tara 

00:20:50

And so, you know, it’s adding another crop that has value, but it’s also suppressing weeds and enhancing the soil for that next cash crop. So it could be soybeans, corn wheat, which is what we currently have in our field now. And so I mentioned increasing crop diversity and building soil and weed suppression. 

Jackie 

00:21:17

Do you want to talk about like some of the uses, like I haven’t seen all of her face, like you have no idea how frustrating this is because in 1993, I used to have a business. Like we actually made him pro overalls and now like I see Patagonia is making hemp overalls and Levi’s is selling him jeans. And like, do you want to talk about like, I know all those uses, but maybe listeners don’t. Yeah, sure. I mean, unless you had something else, I don’t want to interrupt if you have like, kind of like, 

Tara 

00:21:43

Okay, I, I know I have, 

Jackie 

00:21:46

What do you call it? Like an outline. 

Tara 

00:21:47

Yeah. So, so we’re using hemp to incorporate into our rotation to increase crop diversity, build soil health, suppress weeds. But one other thing that we’re helpful it can do is reduce tillage. And so I introduced that idea before, but I don’t know if I specifically mentioned how hemp can do that if you did. I missed it. Okay, great. So with hemp, as I said, it, it just, it grows so fast. So just kind of to give you a visual, we planted it at the end of may and within three days it was germinated. 

Tara 

00:22:30

And by the end, that was in the beginning of the week. And by the end of the week, it was knee height. And within 15 days it was hip height. I mean, it’s unbelievable how fast this plant grows. And so because of that, you know, ability for it to get up and out of the ground, it shades out a lot of those early weeds, which I mentioned weed pressure is a huge struggle for organic farmers. And so usually what comes along with that, with that increased weed pressure is an increase in tillage or plowing in the field to kind of kill out those weeds. And so we think because of hemps ability to suppress these weeds, we can reduce this tillage. 

Tara 

00:23:12

And so that’s, that’s another benefit to the soil health, but both the physical and biological soil health. If you don’t have to go in there and turn that soil over, you’re maintaining that organic layer where it stands and, and, and that’s something that’s really important to us. And so we saw great success with this in our first year, as I said, we planted hemp and followed that up with a rye cover crop, and then, and followed that with a Notel soybean planting system. One thing I didn’t mention is that normally here we practice rotational NoTail. So even though we usually try to no tail plant our cash crop, we usually have to till before planting our cover crop, because you really want that good establishment, that good seed to soil contact of your cover crop to get the benefits of a cover crop, which is a full cover, you know, of your soil. 

Tara 

00:24:10

And so we were hoping with hemp going in before our cover crop, our winter cover crop, that we could actually eliminate this round of tillage. And so we did that. We split our field in half and we followed our normal rotational no-till system, where we plowed before planting our rye winter cover crop. And the other half we did it, we just mowed it off and directly drilled the right into that hemp stubble. And, and we were really pleased with the results. So as I said, the following year, we then had soybeans. 

Tara 

00:24:51

And so we really wanted to look at the impact that weed pressure could have on that, on that major cash crop. And, and so, you know, we had a particularly wet year here in the East coast. You know, our average of rainfall is, is less than 20 inches and we had over 70. So we really saw an impact on our crops. Many farmers lost out completely complete destruction of, of entire fields of crops, mostly corn and soybean in this area. And, and we did not see that in our field that hemp was planted the year prior. 

Tara 

00:25:36

And there could be many factors to that, but we did compare it to other soybean fields on our farm, which have very similar soil conditions. And, and we, we really saw an increase in yields. The national average for soybean grain this past year was 52 bushels per acre, published by the USDA. We were seeing above 70 bushels per acre. And so, and that was in the field. 

Jackie 

00:26:04

Holy cow, that’s huge. That’s almost like, you know, if you split 1550 and half that’s 25 and you’re adding almost another 20, that’s like, I don’t know, percentages kind of has always been a struggle, but it sounds like 150% to me. 

Tara 

00:26:17

Yeah. So we’re really excited about it. And not only do we see those, you know, pretty amazing yields, we also saw a reduction in weed pressure. And so some of our major problem weeds here are ragweed pigweed lambsquarter and, you know, they’re huge agricultural nuisances and, and they really get in the way of equipment and they get bound up in your equipment and they really contaminate your sample. And so within the first year, when we were growing hemp, we saw a great reduction in these weeds and the plots where we had the hemp or the sorghum. 

Tara 

00:26:59

But the second year we saw a complete elimination of these weeds. And so we, you know, obviously this is a scientific research study. We do have randomized replicates, but as a researcher, when something goes really well, you want to do it again just to make sure. So we are going to repeat this study again, this, this year, and start again with the hemp, because we really, you know, are impressed and excited about these results, but we definitely want to make sure it has repeatability. And, and so I’m definitely not confirming that hemp has the ability to completely eliminate weeds, but we definitely are feeling hopeful about the results that we saw. 

Tara 

00:27:43

And so we’re going to continue that work and continue to replicate this rotation that we have going across our farm and then, and hopefully other farms as well to kind of compare with diff in different soil conditions as well. And, and so that’s, that’s our second trial. And then our third trial, which we’ll get a little bit more at looking at the market of hemp is what we’re starting this year. And so that trial is a nutrient management trial. So there’s still many questions with hemp as to what it needs in terms of fertility, what, what does it need in the soil? What does it take out of the soil? 

Tara 

00:28:25

And so those are all important questions because, you know, at the end of the day, we, we, we are interested in this crop, but we want to make sure it’s, you know, not hurting the soil in any way. And if it is, how can we kind of work with that in an organic system to kind of combat some of those things that you have when, when you’re growing up? 

Jackie 

00:28:48

Can I ask you a question because I get kind of confused with cover crops, so sorry. So the hemp, you said you can use like both for fiber and there’s the cover crop, and then you’re planning to soybeans, but like, what’s right for like making rice bread, like feeding animals, like how come that doesn’t get to be a crop and just gets turned back into the soil. 

Tara 

00:29:13

Yeah. So that’s kind of the, you know, cost benefit analysis of a cover crop. You’re going to want to plant something that doesn’t have a huge seed cost. That’s going to provide that cover for you and ultimately something that is rather low value. So, you know, when we plant our rye as a cover crop, we’re not allowing it to go to seed. So you’re not selling it for a product. Like you said, you’re using it as something to turn back into the soil or to use as that mulch layer for your next cash crop. And, and so, you know, that’s where hemp really is kind of an unusual cover crop in that it has a high cost, but we know that there’s also, you know, that, that higher value at the end of it. 

Tara 

00:29:56

And so really the cover crop, you know, it’s less about, it’s not thinking about that economic value. It’s, it’s the agronomic benefit that it has in incorporating it into your rotation to kind of keep cover on the ground at all times, especially over the winter, when you, when you get all that precipitation, it’s a growing material that’s going to hold onto that soil organic matter, which is, which is really important, you know, to prevent things like erosion and, and run off. So 

Jackie 

00:30:29

I guess I still don’t get it, so, right. You would only grow for the seeds if you were going to get anything out of it, like soybeans, I guess you’d grow for the beans, hemp, your butt, I guess. So that’s the only usage for rye is the seeds. Is that why he’s out with, they make rifle out of, is that what you do with rye, right? Like I’m thinking rice bread, like you put seeds in regular flour to make right bread. Yeah. Right. 

Tara 

00:30:52

The right is a small grain crop, like wheat and oats. And so you’re harvesting the small grains out of it, you know, but for us, because it’s really, it’s just, it’s a pretty low value crop. And, but it is really great as a cover crop. And so that’s, that’s what we use it for here on the farm. 

Jackie 

00:31:15

And you know, what, I’ve talked to a lot of people and just that question’s been bugging me. So you ask, but anyway, okay. So then, so what are kind of the Mark is, is that like, because, and then I, you know, of course, like where are you getting your sheets? Because that’s such a, a challenge since we haven’t been growing in here, where do you get seeds Canada? 

Tara 

00:31:42

Definitely. So kind of, you know, for adding on to the nutrient management trial that I was describing, it’s really looking about at organic options to increase the nutrients within your crop. And so that’s really going to play into the marketability of your crop and, and what type of market that you are going to take your product into. And so really that is if you’re a farmer or a, you know, a small farmer or a large farm or whatever, you have backyard gardener, and you have an interest in growing hemp. The first thing that you need to do is ask yourself, what is the intended market that you want to go into? 

Tara 

00:32:28

Is it fiber for textiles? Is it the food? So are you going to grow grain or are you interested in CBD? And so those are three very different markets and you would be growing the plant in three very different ways, depending on that intended use, that intended end use. And so that’s a really important question to ask yourself is, is what are your intentions? And also what is, you know, what are your resources? What, what do you have to start with? And so, like I said, we are focusing on the fiber varieties because of their ability to grow so tall and so quickly, and because they’re planted much more tightly together. 

Tara 

00:33:13

So that’s really, what is helping with the weed suppression aspect of, of the hemp fiber crop, the seed varieties. You would space out a little bit more to allow, you know, a little bit of a greater seed production that requires specialized harvesting equipment to harvest those seed heads off there’s dual purpose varieties, which you can get both a fiber and a seed out of one crop. But again, that’s, that requires special harvesting machinery. That’s still being developed. And at this point is, is really costly and it’s not quite accessible in America yet. So, and, and then your third option is, is the CBD varieties that, you know, are very, 

Jackie 

00:33:59

I was just going to ask that because the CBD, it seems like is more like bushy or more like a pot plant than the stocks that grow for the fiber for paper and clothing and textiles, like you were saying is like straight up. And then it just kind of has like the leaves on the top, right? 

Tara 

00:34:20

Yeah. So your fiber and seed crops, you’re going to grow them like you would grain crops. It can even plant them as you would agree in crops. So you’re growing them tight. They’re growing straight and tall, you know, not, not a whole lot of vegetation. And sometimes with seeds, you, you would plant space them out a little bit more to allow some branching. And then for your, so you’re going to picture that like a grain crop. Like if you drive by a field with wheat or, or corn, you know, that’s kind of what those industrial varieties would look like. Now, your CBD picture, more like growing tomatoes, you may want to consider growing it on raised beds, starting them indoors, doing transplants, potentially growing on black plastic. 

Tara 

00:35:06

All of those options is what you’d want for CBD because you’re putting in a higher investment. The seed cost is pretty high between one to $5 a seed. Whereas your industrial varieties are one to $5 a pound. So you’re, you know, you’re putting in this higher investment. And so you’re going to each plant, you’re going to take careful care of. So, you know, that’s a completely different system and different setup, and it is a great option for backyard gardeners who have just a few raised beds because you, you know, you have the ability to track each and every individual plan. 

Tara 

00:35:53

So that’s really important for the CBD because of that, that cost that you’re putting in, but they, they do have kind of a greater return on the end, but you have to be able to put in the labor and the time to monitor that crop. Whereas the industrial varieties are great. You plant them, you come back, you know, 80 to 115 days later and you harvest and that’s it. Whereas the CBD, you have to really take your time and, and remove any mails that pop up. You have to monitor them. And, and so it’s a lot more time-consuming and labor intensive, but it is an option if you only have, you know, a smaller area. 

Jackie 

00:36:34

And that I was going to mention that since you mentioned the males, like that’s a big difference between people who are like growing cannabis to smoke. Like if they like want the THC brand, they are not going to want any seeds anywhere near their crop. And so like, I hate that argument that, Oh, we can’t grow up in Montana because the cops can’t recognize it. People are going to police themselves as far as I’m concerned because no grower is going to let you have any kind of hemp or any kind of seeds near their cannabis cash crop. Right. Because that’s kind of what you’re talking about. The CBD, I didn’t realize it could not have those seats either. 

Tara 

00:37:14

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It’s the CBD is, is very similar to, you know, the growing of marijuana. And so, you know, it’s, it’s definitely a higher cost and there’s a higher benefit, but yeah, definitely also considering the genetics, the genetics for CBD do STEM from the genetics, from marijuana and the medical marijuana industry. And so, you know, they just happen to have lower THC levels. So that, that, that legal limit of 0.3%, you know, breaks the line between what is a hemp it and what is marijuana. 

Tara 

00:37:55

So, you know, so that that’s something to consider. There’s also a higher risk with that, those CBD varieties, having similar genetics to the marijuana, there, there is the likelihood that your THC content will be above the legal limit. And in that case, that requires destruction of the crop. And so that is definitely a risk that you’d have to consider because CBD and THC kind of work together in the plant. So they’re just two molecules of the over 500 molecules in cannabis plants. And really they, they kind of go together. So if your, your CBD is increasing, your THC is also increasing. And so, and then also considering proximity, you definitely, you know, as someone who’s investing a lot of money into marijuana industry or CBD, you definitely want to make sure that there is a great distance between some of those industrial varieties where there are males present in the field and they haven’t, we haven’t quite figured out that perfect distance yet. 

Tara 

00:38:55

Right now, the suggestion is three miles. I feel like it should be a lot more than that. Knowing what I know about pollen and pollinators, we know bees can fly miles and miles and miles. So, you know, I think this is all, all things we will learn as we continue, but I don’t think it should become really a battle between the medical marijuana or CBD growers and the industrial gardens, because there there’s a great demand for both. So, you know, I don’t, I think, 

Jackie 

00:39:25

I think actually it’s encouraging, especially the part that you’re saying that like you have like this actual number 0.03%, because I think a lot of like, there’s been, you know, people tried to grow hemp for years in this country, you know, when we’ve gone back and forth, Oh, it’s legal now. It’s not legal now. And then the da has gone in and swooped down and taken crops out, like, especially on native American places where they’ve, you know, grown it and tried to get a crop. And then the da swoops in right at the end of the year and says, Oh, we’re taking this. Cause, you know, yada, yada yada. And so now if they have like an actual thing where they could level, like, cause I know, cause there’s, there was like some big bust in Idaho and they said, no, that’s our hemp for CBD. 

Jackie 

00:40:08

And we like w really who transplant transport these plants anyway. And it was like some company in Denver trying to get their, I can’t remember if it was coming out of Canada where they have plants were coming from, but they got stopped. This big truck in Idaho in the CBD place was like suing. They’re like, no, we want our hemp. And so it’s nice to see that there’s like things that the conversation’s changing, people are finally starting to see all these benefits and also like coming up with these, you know, like scientific, like we can finally study it maybe a little bit. 

Tara 

00:40:39

Yeah. And I think one thing to keep in mind that is really important is that even though it is off the better listing, it is no longer under the jurisdiction of the DEA. It is still under state regulation. So you still require a growing permit from your state government, no matter, no matter where you are. I don’t know of any States that it doesn’t work that way. So there are specific guidelines and programs and fees and things that you have to go through, you know, specific to your individual state that you’re growing in. And so that’s something definitely to keep in mind, even though it was, it came off the federal listing and you do have that 0.3% number to work with. 

Tara 

00:41:20

You still have to have a permit from your state. 

Jackie 

00:41:24

Okay. I’m just gonna have one more super quick thing. So like I haven’t released it, but I just did an interview with this guy, Bob Quinn, who is a farmer here in Montana. And like his biggest thing to say about him was make sure you have a market. Cause I guess they just grew a test plot and then they didn’t quite have their market lined out. And so he was having challenges with that. But I was surprised because we actually have a big CBD player plant, whatever. Like he makes it here in our talent, in your Rica. And they re he was telling me last summer, they ran out of product from Canada. And so they actually bought land on the East side and were like producing their very first prop of Crump hemp. 

Jackie 

00:42:05

But it was the same thing. Bob was telling me that you were saying he had grown the stocks for, I think for textiles and the CBD was different. He didn’t, I don’t know. But anyway, and then the last thing I just want to add super quick is like, it’s so funny to hear all these people talking to me about the great powers of CBD oil. My, I don’t know. I just feel it I’m like seriously as one more person gonna tell me about that this year. 

Tara 

00:42:31

Yeah. Well, so I think, I think there’s some couple, a couple of interesting things to think about. And so I mentioned that, you know, depending on your resources, I definitely not taking CBD off the table, but I think you have to look at the longterm or really the sustainability of this industry. And right now CBD is growing so quickly and it’s so hot right now that the production needs are going to be met by the, the man they’re gonna equal out and the, and the price is going to greatly reduce. And so you’re not going to be able to get that profit ver it’s gonna, it’s going to happen pretty quickly. We’re already seeing it going towards that trend because the demand is very high, but the production is, is meeting up with that. 

Tara 

00:43:19

And so what we are lacking is the production for the industrial hemp. And so I think if you want to look more at a, a long-term goal to keep this industry going and not just be a quick hot thing for a couple of years, we really need to consider all uses of this plant. And so that’s what we’re working on here. Yeah. So I think that’s good to hear. Yeah. And also you mentioned that, you know, a lot of people talk about the great benefits of CBD, which, which, which is true, but it’s also really interesting. CBD is only, like I said, one molecule out of the 500 in cannabis plants. 

Tara 

00:44:01

And so there’s research out there happening. I know there, you know, I think locally Penn state medical is working on that as well. And actually it wasn’t the CBD that killed the cancer cells. It was other molecules in the cannabis plant. And so, yes, it’s great potential, but it’s hemp as a whole, like I said, there’s 499 other molecules besides CBD, if not more, that contributes to these health benefits that are being marketed with CBD. So I think that’s something to consider as well. 

Jackie 

00:44:39

Yeah. I mean, I think the biggest thing we need, because just this morning there was like on the news again, like Colorado said, the emergency rooms are seeing more people from edible marijuana, then it’s like 10% or 30% or something like some crazy number of their emergency room visits. And like, that’s where I feel like there’s no regulation, nobody knows what they’re putting in these baked goods. And then they also said part of it is like people are overdosing because it, like, it takes a long time to come in and then they like, you know, think it’s not working. Should they eat two cookies instead of like a half a cookie or whatever the heck they’re doing. And I just feel like it’s because it is the wild West. 

Jackie 

00:45:20

And so I know it’s a little off topic, but I, it’s just something I’m super passionate about because for so many reasons, I just feel like, you know, I just feel like it is such an essential thing for our soil, the health of our soil, and just, I really want to be able to, you know, put me hemp seed salad oil. But I think the interesting for my listeners, like is that this can be a cover crop book last year. My mom was argument. She’s like, no backyard gardeners going to grow a cover crop, but I grew a cover crop of buckwheat. And just like, I think this is great. And then like you said, it grows so fast at Germany. It’s like, it’s something that you can put in because like when Liz Carlisle wrote her book about the lentil underground and she was, you know, studying, if we know these are best practices to rotate crops and use cover crops, why aren’t we using them? 

Jackie 

00:46:06

And she found out that a lot of it had to do with like banks and farmers not being able to like the bank was not gonna like, you know, help them if they were going to put a cover crop in and not get a cash crop, but this is going to allow them to put the cover crop in, build their soil and still get a cash crop. And maybe the same year, I don’t know. I guess you guys are doing soybeans in your second year or it’s within a year, right? You’re still getting a short green crop within one year. 

Tara 

00:46:32

No. So it was the, the hemp, just the way we started this rotation, it really can fit in, in our rotation. It could either replace that summer. If you have a summer suppression, weed, suppression crop, like circumstan grass, it can also replace oats, which, you know, are the value of oats have dropped as well and, or it can be compared to corn. So it can also replace corn in your rotation as well. So it can fit in, in a few places, but just in our study in the first year where we put it in, in that first year, our crops were sorghum and hemp in that first summer. 

Tara 

00:47:17

So we, they grew from may to August. And so that really just allowed us to one thing with cover cropping is timing. So you have to get them in time before winter hits to get established so that they provide that cover for you in the spring. And so, because of the short season of hemp, it allows you to get that crop out of there in time to get your cover crops in on time, which is very important. And it ultimately benefits your cash crop the following year, which, which for us with soybeans, because that timing was perfect. 

Jackie 

00:47:57

You know, another person I just interviewed was Andrew Mefferd, who writes that he’s the editor of what’s it called market, the market farmer magazine anyway, but he just wrote a book also on no-till farming. And that was definitely a key. He interviews like 17 farmers, I think. And like, they all seem to talk about getting that cover crop in on time. You know, making sure you hit that window just seemed essential. Like even though they all had all these different systems and they were doing different things. The one thing that I really noticed is he sent me a preview book, was that timing seemed essential. So this is my question about oats is especially, I just saw on Facebook this morning, like there’s a meme that says 100% of oats in the country is testing positive to glyphosate. 

Jackie 

00:48:44

Like I would think there would be a fairly decent sized market for OCE, for organic Oaks. No, 

Tara 

00:48:53

I mean, I don’t, I don’t know. I could speak a whole lot on that. I mean, oats is definitely something we include in our rotation and you know, there’s definitely people out there it’s, it’s the demand for it really isn’t that high. I mean, it, we’re really in a system here where it’s corn and soy and corn and soy and corn and soy and everything else kind of gets, I don’t want to say ignored, but you know, we don’t talk a whole lot about, about the small grain crops here. And, but I think it’s important to start talking about them, especially in an organic system where there’s a lack of production of some of those crops. And also because of our production of corn and soy greatly exceeds the demand. 

Tara 

00:49:40

So we have so much excess of corn and soy and the prices are so low. I think we really should start looking into other options, whether it be other, other crops or hemp in, in my opinion. 

Jackie 

00:49:55

Cool. Well, we’ve been talking for a while. Like what else did you want to share? Is there anything we’ve missed or 

Tara 

00:50:03

I don’t think so. I’m just, do you have any specific questions? I know you said that you had interest in, you know, growing hemp for, you know, animal feed or, you know, potentially animal bedding or cover cropping. I’m just wondering if you have any questions, you know, about your region. I, I’m kind of looking up your, your weather, climate data to see you. Do you, do you have resources, are, do you know people growing in your area or what, what type of information might you need to, to kind of get started? 

Jackie 

00:50:38

Well, so we, my husband and I, we have like, you know, our regular garden and then he has what I call like the mini farm. And then we also have like this five acre meadow. We’ve always dreamed of planting. And of course I dream of having it filled with some flowers to grow bird seed, but you know, maybe that could be a rotation. Like one year, some flowers, one year it’s have one year, but like the big things like Mike would like to be able to grow our own. Like he would, he makes a lot of wheat or a lot of our breads. So she wants like something we can use for like w you know, to bake bread, like flour, if he wants like some kind of chicken feed. And like, even like, as a cover crop in some of my beds, especially here in Montana, where we have really, really cold winters, like maybe that would be a great fall crop to put in for us that could have, I don’t know. 

Jackie 

00:51:27

I was like, you know, I’m just so curious, like, how can we use it at Arbra? And then eventually, like, I don’t, like, I’ve never thought, like I could grow enough hemp for me to actually press seeds, but maybe that would have five acre meadow, or maybe it’s only like three acres once you like, take out like the there’s still like forest land around it. 

Tara 

00:51:48

Yeah. So I think that, you know, there’s 

Jackie 

00:51:51

Oh yeah. Mike, just sorry. Mike said, and we want to build a house out of hempcrete so, 

Tara 

00:51:56

Yes. Yeah. So I think you, you know, you definitely have options there. I’m looking here. It looks like, you know, I think you’re just a few months, maybe a month behind us in terms of your, you know, key planting season. So it looks like June is the time where you get your, most of your precipitation, which would be critical the first couple of weeks of hemp. So hemp likes soil that has higher organic matter, and it needs a lot of nitrogen. So we, we use our, we apply our own compost that we make here on site, or you can use chicken litter as well. 

Tara 

00:52:37

And, and so that could be a nice recycling system for you, if you would like to then use it to feed your chickens. But, you know, so the first few weeks of the critical stage of hemp and, and really that’s the only time where it really needs to have sufficient water. And so you’d really want to time that with, with your precipitation in your area also the, the day length. So depending on the different crop you’re growing, you know, you have to look at your different day length. So it looks here like it still would fit as a mid to late summer crop for you in Montana. So, you know, I think thinking about your different options and maybe in your, your garden area that you have going on, you could consider doing some type of CBD operation where you could press it, or just a hemp oil operation, you know, that requires space to dry the plants and, and kind of figuring out a buyer or a processor to press it. 

Tara 

00:53:42

And I think there’s more of, there is definitely more processing available for the CBD market at this time. If you’re thinking to grow for grain, to, you know, feed your animals or, you know, that’s, that’s a great option for you. If, you know, you’re just trying to sustain your, your little, you know, garden or whatever you have going. I think also considering dual purpose varieties, where you can get some grain to feed them, but you could also use the stock to make animal bedding as well. So those are a lot of options there. And one thing that’s great about hemp is you don’t need a lot of acreage. Really. It, it requires a little space, a little irrigation and really very few inputs. 

Tara 

00:54:28

Other than if you’re growing for industrial heavy nitrogen source, if you’re growing for CBD, you’re gonna want that heavier phosphorus source. And so those are all things to think about and you can kind of accomplish those in different ways, but I definitely think even with the space you have, there’s a lot of options, especially with that plot. You mentioned that it’s kind of in meadow, it’s an area that has been sitting in a while. There, there may be a weed pressure there, or you don’t really know what’s happening with the soil. Hemp is also a, is used to kind of heal the soil. So it, it pulls out, 

Jackie 

00:55:06

Did you know, it’s full, spotted knapweed? Like that is a huge problem we have down there. Good point. 

Tara 

00:55:13

So, you know, it, it could be, if you’re, even if you’re just looking to kind of take that little plot and, and turn it into something, you know, trying to get rid of those weeds before you get some of those other cash crops in there that are very sensitive to weeds, you know, it could be an option for you, and even if you’re just using it to sustain the animals and things that you have on, on your, your farm alone. I think that could be a great system for you. If you’re looking to kind of get this crop that has so many uses and, and really you could get multiple uses for you out of one plant. And then also if you’re, if you’re looking to kind of maintain all of that, if you have the ability for the initial startup CBD is a good option to help in, in a small amount to help kind of, I would say fund all of that, you know, there is specialized equipment required for, for seed collection, as I said, or if you’re doing a small enough area at this time, hand harvest is still something that is happening. 

Tara 

00:56:19

You know, if you’re just, yeah, especially for, for CBD, you know, hand harvesting is still the preferred method. There’s thought as to how the different harvesting equipment is actually destroying the plants in a way that you’re reducing that ultimate, the total concentration of CBD, you may be able to get out of the plant. And so I know there is a farm right down the road, it’s a small vegetable mixed vegetable, you know, farm where they have a small CSA and they have a few animals and they started in our pilot program as well. And they’re only growing one acre of CBD and that worked well for them. 

Tara 

00:57:02

They also have a few greenhouses, so they’re actually starting a, a cloning operation where, because we really need availability of local genetics. And so that’s another option for backyarders, especially if you have high tunnels or greenhouses, that’s another market that you can go into, which is the seed or clone production, because 

Jackie 

00:57:22

It’s not easy to get clone started. Right? 

Tara 

00:57:24

No, and, and there’s definitely, it’s much more highly regulated out of a lot of the options you have for the hemp industry at this time. You know, obviously for, for producing seed, you know, you have to produce certified seed, and there’s a lot of regulations that go along with that. And clones, you know, obviously a lot of companies, you know, Canadian or European companies that have these genetics, you know, are protective of that. So figuring out, you know, it’s really dependent on each state and their guidelines, but figuring out how to go about doing that. But I think it’s really important that we start to build this domestic seed source or closed source for genetics that work here. 

Tara 

00:58:06

And so that is definitely another market that, you know, we really just don’t talk a lot about, and it’s something that it’s in high demand as well. 

Jackie 

00:58:17

It’s just, so anyway, where did we go from here? 

Tara 

00:58:24

I don’t know if you have any more questions for me about specifically about our research or the market of hemp, or, I mean, I think we covered a lot. I think you’d have a lot of information to work with. I don’t know if you have any more questions specifically on Rodale or me or anything. Okay. 

Jackie 

00:58:45

Well, I will see if maybe you can connect me with those gardeners down the road personally, but 

Tara 

00:58:53

By the way, they’re Mo millennials as well. 

Jackie 

00:58:56

Yes. I kind of have like this thing it’s like, kind of, I don’t know, and maybe we could just skip it, but like I ask questions, like it’s kinda like a lightning round on another pie or do a podcast. Do you listen to podcasts? Yeah. Like, like, do you have a favorite activity to do in the garden? Actually, I usually start out with, what’s your least favorite activity to do in the garden? Like, is there that you got to kind of force yourself to get out there and do, 

Tara 

00:59:24

Yeah, I would say weeding is my least favorite activity. 

Jackie 

00:59:28

And then on the flip side, what’s your favorite activity? 

Tara 

00:59:32

Watching, watching the plants go grow, starting from a seed and turning it into something that is I’m being prepared in my kitchen. I think watching that process of the plants grow. 

Jackie 

00:59:47

And how about what’s the best gardening advice you’ve ever received? Cover cropping. Perfect. How about, do you have a favorite tool that you’d like to use? Like if you had to move and can only take one tool with you, what could you not live without my horseshoe? How, what’s your favorite recipe you like to eat from the garden pickles? Nice. How about a favorite internet resource? Like where do you find yourself surfing on the web? 

Tara 

01:00:21

The Rodale Institute website. 

Jackie 

01:00:24

Excellent. How about a favorite reading material? Like a book or a magazine, a blog, something 

Tara 

01:00:32

I love super nerdy, but I love to look through seed catalogs. My favorite is Johnny’s, 

Jackie 

01:00:39

You’re not the first one to say that last people see that on my show. Well, do you have any business advice to give listeners like on how they can get started in the hemp industry? I mean, you kind of given us a lot, but like, I don’t know. You’re pretty good at this lightning round short stuff. 

Tara 

01:00:54

Yeah. I would say, I would say have an intendant market and prepare a buyer and make sure to follow your state’s permit requirements. 

Jackie 

01:01:04

Excellent. Okay. Here’s my final question. It’s kind of a doozy ready, Tara. If there’s one change you’d like to see, to create a greener world, what would it be for example, is there a charity organization you’re passionate about or project you’d like to see put into action? Like what do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment, either locally, nationally, or on a global scale 

Tara 

01:01:24

Education? And I definitely seen that a lot with hemp, the importance of education and talking about the differences, you know, especially between marijuana and hemp, but really as a whole to kind of make a greener world, it’s all about education and making sure to get the right information out there. And so we don’t just read something that we see on social media and believe it. 

Jackie 

01:01:49

Excellent. Okay. Well, do you want tell the sellers how to find out about that have trial and connect with you? 

Tara 

01:01:55

Yeah, definitely. So obviously if you’re locally, we would love to see you where a public institution, where we’re a privately funded institution, but we’re open to the public. And we, you know, love having visitors. We have about 50,000 visitors a year. We have several events and workshops. We also are starting a webinar series on our website@rodaleinstitute.org. Our amazing communications team just redid the website and it’s super interactive. There’s a whole research tab where you can learn about our different trials. And there’s also updated specifically about hemp updated, preliminary results on the hemp trials@therodaleinstitute.org. 

Jackie 

01:02:42

I cannot thank you enough for sharing with us today. You have a wonderful day and keep growing. 

Tara 

01:02:49

Thank you. 

Jackie 

01:02:51

Thank you so much. Get your copy of the organic Oasis guide book, helping you create an earth friendly environment today available on Amazon for just 26 95. It’s full of all the lessons from free organic garden cores that Mike and I put together to help you grow your very own organic Oasis, whether you just want to landscape or some deep beds, it’s a perfect book. It’s got all the worksheets and everything to help you be successful and have a lovely organic Oasis that you want to live in too. Do you know someone who would benefit from the organic gardener podcast? If you like what you hear? We’d love it. If you chaired the organic gardener podcast with a friend. 

Jackie 

01:03:32

Thanks again for listening and remember, 

01:03:35

Nope.