Harvesting Liberty: Short film explores reintroduction of industrial hemp to US

Author: Katie Pohlman

Industrial hemp farming could play a big role in providing economic stability in impoverished areas, creating jobs and businesses for veterans, and growing a sustainable and regenerative agriculture movement. Too bad it’s still illegal.

A collaboration between responsible apparel company Patagonia, a veteran-to-farmer training organization Growing Warriors, and Fibershed, a regenerative local textile organization, is shining a light on the potential emergence of industrial hemp farming in the US.

Although hemp has gotten a bad rap over the years because of the misunderstanding (or the outright misinformation) that hemp and marijuana are the same thing, the simple fact is that industrial hemp can provide food, animal feed, fiber, and fuel, all without any psychoactive components, and can be grown with in a much more sustainable manner than many other fiber and food crops.

A short film, funded by Patagonia, takes a look at the efforts of veteran Michael Lewis, who is the founder of the nonprofit Growing Warriors Project, to reintroduce industrial hemp farming in Kentucky (and potentially the entire nation). Like many parts of rural America, Appalachia is home to a variety of extractive industries, which remove resources (and profits) from areas with little regard for the local residents or the environment, and the reintroduction of hemp farming could help to turn things around in these areas.