By Doug Fine
Editors Note: One of NoCo’s favorite speakers is bestselling author and regenerative hemp farmer Doug Fine. He’s been with us since NoCo 1. And we’re proud that the SXSW festival has asked Doug to deliver a keynote entitled, “What Anyone Can Do To Mitigate Climate Change-Plant Hemp” at the big Austin. Texas festival in March. In fact, Doug’ll be blazing his way from Austin to Colorado for his NoCo talks. We at WAFBA are psyched that it’s becoming clear that mitigating climate change through regenerative farming is a broad, mainstream topic. As Doug puts it in American Hemp Farmer, “It has to be if we want our great-grandchildren to have a habitable planet.” And this is the message he brings to us in his latest Let’s Talk Hemp essay today.
As millions of people worldwide welcome back cannabis/hemp to aboveground society, I’m an advocate for cultivation, enjoyment and marketing of this longest utilized of all plants regeneratively. By which I mean in a beyond-organic, native soil-building, carbon-sequestering mode, outdoors under God’s sun.
I came to this view when I had my Climate Change Pearl Harbor Moment. There’s nothing like wildfire-fleeing bears attacking your livestock before breakfast to hammer home the fact that humanity is in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs, from an ecological perspective. You might think you’re a hemp farmer, a graphic designer or a massage therapist. Actually, we’re all soil farmers now. It was John Roulac, founder of Nutiva, who first clued me in, when I was writing my earlier book, Hemp Bound: Regenerative agriculture is the best way to sequester carbon.
Which is why I realize I spend a lot of time listening to what my plants have to say. They give so much, ask so little. As if providing my family’s superfood weren’t enough, their roots also sequester carbon and feed me oxygen. Each afternoon during the summer in New Mexico, it’s at least five degrees cooler in the garden than anywhere else here in the high desert. I listen to them because a lot is riding on the Funky Butte Ranch’s plant (and able microbes) doing their job so that we might not just survive, but thrive, at the tail end of the petrochemical and coal era.
In a time of supply chain reexamination and in a world where more than a billion folks just like you and me wonder if they’ll eat today (or find clean water), you bet I’m appreciate that I am able to sprinkle freshly harvested hemp seeds atop goat yogurt. This is security. What’s incredible to me about this lifestyle is that it’s become incredible. Ninety percent of Americans were farmers at the time of the American Revolution. One percent are today.
For most of our existence as a species, this is how it worked for all humans: harvest, and you eat. Neglect to harvest, and you don’t see spring. Pretty simple. And humanity survived. You and I are proof. That’s what regenerative agriculture is: harvesting in a way that allows you to harvest again next season, and the one after that. Then they thought up feudal dukedoms and, as we know, supermarkets weren’t far behind. Great while they last. But it gets one comfortable. It’s jut food. Let someone else worry about it.
The good news is, the craft cannabis/hemp market already is the leading brand. As a soil farmer, the three reasons I think this mode ought to remain so, are:
1) You harvest the best cannabis/hemp. I look to my own garden for the superfood seed I and my family enjoy, and I’m biased toward the diverse bounty that the garden provides. But for those still looking for some, ya know, old-fashioned academic study to confirm that regeneratively cultivated and processed cannabinoid offering (like CBD and related entourage effects) produce superior results compared to what we might want to stop calling “conventional” techniques, a 2021 study published in the Journal of Epilepsy and Behavior looks at artisanal CBD in epileptic patients.
2) When I eat any food, put on a natural fiber garment, or get into a vehicle made from biomaterials, I don’t want to worry about toxins like herbicide residue and contaminated water remnants. Call me crazy: I try to eat poison-free food.
3) Being outside in a healthy hemp polyculture hemp field, getting dive-bombed by bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators, is about the most fun you can have outside the bedroom.
Now, cannabis/hemp is a big tent and my predilection for ancient cultivation techniques derives from my search to find achievable ways for humanity to buy itself a few more generations of livable climate in which to glide into our post-petroleum future. I’ve got kids. Climate mitigation through soil building is my job.
Accordingly, my strong new year’s appeal to folks who enjoy any part of the magnificent hemp/cannabis plant is, please choose a regional, farmer-owned, organic and regenerative enterprise the way you’d choose a farmer’s market tomato over a supermarket baseball, or a fine local craft beer over a mass produced one.
A bottle of tincture or bag of hemp hearts you find at a farmer’s market, food co-op or CSA may appear to cost more because it supports a local (versus an absentee) economy, and because it has higher quality ingredients that taste richer and are more bioavailable. But your regional product choice is actually far cheaper when you’re thinking a few generations ahead. Plus, aren’t you tired of one McChoice for everything?
Seek out enterprises that discuss their carbon sequestration metrics and their cultivation techniques on their compostable, non-plastic packaging. Most of all, look for products produced regionally in enterprises at least partly owned by the farmers who provide your top-shelf craft cannabis hemp. This allows the farmer to get paid at the retail level instead of ripped off at the wholesale level.
I have to say, with so much at stake, I’m glad it is so dang pleasant to watch a hemp garden grow around me each summer. I miss my 2022 hemp plants but I’m crunching on their scrumptious seeds as I type. So are my goats. I finally have mostly washed the trichomes and terpenes off my fingers from harvest.
It all starts in the soil. I always have a blast at this time of year planting overwintering soil-building seed like clover and vetch, which I blanket in own Funky Butte Ranch goat-poop-mixed-with-alfalfa. What we do with our soil and related billions of beneficial microbes months before planting our hemp (or any “main” crop) plays a huge role, alongside genetics and love, in what our crops look like the following autumn.
The payback for this is abundance. I wake up each day and give thanks of another day healthy enough to enjoy my family, to hear the woodpeckers breakfasting while I stretch with goats, and to be alive at all. After six seasons of hemp farming, I have little doubt that a contributing factor to this default contentedness is the homegrown hemp seed and vegetables that is part of my diet: I feel like I’m converting the harvest into good energy as we speak. Positivity comes easy in this life. So does optimism.
To sink my hands into soil without fear – in my view this is wealth. This is the future for my family. This is the future for humanity. So let’s get out there and build some soil. If you’re totally new to the concept, maybe do a search for videos about effective microorganisms and making fungal compost teas. If you’re a decider at a cannabis/hemp enterprise and “regenerative” and “farmer-owned” aren’t yet cornerstones of your brand, please make them so. It’s win-win-win, for our health, for the planet and in the marketplace.
Wishing continual abundance for you and your family: your ancestors got you this far, let’s keep figuring out what they did right, prior to the recent invention of monoculture. GMOs only started in 1996. That ain’t “conventional.” What your great-great-great-great grandmother did to survive, that’s conventional. See y’all in 2022.
About Doug Fine:
Doug Fine is a bestselling author, regenerative hemp farmer and solar-powered goat herder. His latest book, American Hemp Farmer, is nominated for the Santa Fe Reporter’s 2021 Book of the Year award. His focus for the past 15 years has been regenerative living for regular folks, beginning with his Boston Globe bestseller Farewell, My Subaru which is about his effort to live with far fewer fossil fuels. Doug has cultivated hemp for farm-to-table products, advising, seed-building and his own family’s survival in six U.S. states and on Tribal land. In addition to American Hemp Farmer and Farewell, My Subaru, his books include Too High to Fail and Hemp Bound. Willie Nelson calls Doug’s work “a blueprint for the America of the future.” The Washington Post says, “Fine is a storyteller in the mold of Douglas Adams.” A website of Doug’s books and audiobooks, and print, radio and television work, United Nations testimony, Conan and Tonight Show appearances, TED Talk and online regenerative hemp course is at dougfine.com Twitter and Instagram: @organiccowboy Don’t miss his rollicking talks and meet him at his book signings at NoCo on March 24, 2022. NoCo tickets are available at: https://nocohempexpo.com/