Schools are letting out for the summer, and Kentuckians have a chance to shift their focus on education toward hemp.
Six historic sites across Kentucky have planted hemp in advance of next week’s Hemp History Week, the country’s largest educational campaign about hemp.
The Heritage Hemp Trail, part of the Kentucky Hemp Heritage Alliance, will host a series of events from June 4-9 at historic sites in Kentucky during the 10th celebration of Hemp History Week.
“We found by educating people through our heritage and our history and through events like this when people experience the renewed hemp industry in the context of our history at these historic sites, they really can understand the difference between hemp and marijuana and what we’re trying to do through the head pilot program here,” Alyssa Erickson said.
Erickson helped found the Heritage Hemp Trail in 2017 as an initiative to promote the history of hemp in Kentucky.
In December, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill which removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and legalized farming of the plant in the U.S. for the first time since 1970. Hemp, like marijuana, is a member of the cannabis family but is grown for its various industrial uses as opposed to the recreational and medicinal uses of marijuana.
Hemp was the top cash crop in Kentucky throughout the 19th century and farmers and manufacturers used it to make the fiber in things like rope for naval ships and cotton bagging in the South.
“The fact that we’re able to grow again here in Kentucky, our soils, you know, we’re perfect for it,” Erickson said. “That’s why it did so well here historically. So I think our farmers and our agricultural community is just really excited about this because tobacco is on the decline.”
Each of the six historical sites will feature a “Discover the Hemplands” event to debut their newly planted hemp, which is expected to sprout in time for next week’s commemoration.
A dual-purpose hemp seed called tygra was planted at Shaker Village in Harrodsburg, the Jack Jouett House in Versailles, Ashford Acres Inn in Cynthiana, Waveland State Historic Site in Lexington, the Henry Clay Estate in Lexington and at the Farmington Historic Plantation in Louisville.
“All the sites have some sort of unique opportunity to show a perspective on how hemp was important to Kentucky and sort of the role that it played at these different sites, whether it was through manufacturing or the shipping industry, politics or just the growth and agricultural aspect of it itself,” Erickson said.
“There are really many, many angles that these sites get to cover through their history and they’ll be able to intertwine that with what’s happening today.”
The events at these sites will have activities such as a hemp dinner at Ashford Acres Inn and CBD yoga at the Waveland State Historic Site.
At CBD yoga, participants will be able to try CBD and then do yoga “to kind of synthesize the supplement and see how it feels during a physical activity,” Erickson said.
The hemp dinner in Cynthiana will have hemp-infused food such as beef tenderloin with hemp au jus, hemp flour cake with vanilla hemp ice cream and hemp and CBD cocktails.
Along with Discover the Hemplands events, visitors are given tours of the mansions that were built on hemp wealth and they’ll hear educational talks on hemp and its history in Kentucky.
For the fourth year, the event at Farmington Historic Plantation in Louisville is on June 6 from 5 to 6 p.m. and visitors can receive free hemp samples and a tour of what was a 19th century hemp plantation mansion owned by the Speed family.
This story has been corrected to show that the 2018 Farm Act legalized the farming of hemp in the U.S. for the first time since 1970, not 1937 as stated in a previous version of the story.