Hemp Pilot Project

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The 2018 Federal Farm Bill legalized the cultivation of hemp in the US for the first time in 81 years. This year, the Maryland Department of Agriculture created the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program to be implemented by approved growers this season!

The Frostburg State University Biology Department is working with Backbone Food Farm to conduct a 100 plant trial on their Garrett County farm. Farm owners Max Dubansky and Katharine Shepherd Dubansky ‘95 have been growing Certified Naturally Grown, chemical free produce, berries, gourmet mushrooms, and pastured livestock for the Allegany and Garrett County community for 20 years. Backbone Food Farm will be providing their skills, along with the tools and land to begin this collaborative effort.

The Hemp Project will lay the groundwork for growing industrial hemp in western Maryland. As this crop has not been grown here before, the identification of best practices and best varieties will lead to a more productive industry and economic development. In addition, research opportunities for students will be possible in the areas of ecology, chemical analysis, and agronomy.

The success of this project will be measured with the identification of industrial hemp varieties that are best suited for growth in western Maryland, providing valuable information for Maryland growers on how to improve profitability and help alleviate some of the unknown factors that go along with the growth of a new crop. This is especially true for farm to market operations that are the hallmark of this area.

Benefits of Hemp

The hemp plant has so many purposes, including but not limited to:

*fiber for clothing, upholstery and linens

*composite materials for manufacturing

*bio-plastics that can replace fossil fuel based plastics

*building materials

*human and animal medicines derived from CBD rich hemp strains

*livestock feed and bedding

*food – hemp seed and hempseed oil

Hemp is said to top $1 billion US dollars in sales in the US in 2019, and projected to exceed $2.5 billion in 2020. Currently, the majority of consumer hemp products are imported from China, Canada, and Europe. US farmers are poised and ready to grow the crop here, revitalize rural economies and small farms, and bring sustainable development to our communities.

How You Can Help Conducting this sort of research isn’t cheap—especially when it’s essentially uncharted territory! We need your financial support in order to purchase materials and supplies and off set lab and analysis and labor costs. Make your gift and be part 

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