As the future of recreational and medical marijuana remains uncertain, the national hemp industry is growing and Vermont remains one of seventeen states where hemp cultivation is legal under state law. Forbes recently reported that the legal CBD hemp market is estimated to grow 700% by 2020 alone — to say nothing of hemp oil fuels, plastics, food products, paper, fabric, building materials and other markets that continue to develop as more states allow production of agricultural hemp.
Hemp is defined practically as cannabis that has less than .3% of the compound THC, the cannabinoid of the plant showing psychoactive effects. Historically, hemp was a government-mandated crop grown by American settlers (and carried by sailors) and even inspired Vermont’s own industrial revolution via the Fairbanks Scales, originally invented to weigh wagon loads of hemp.
“The last time hemp was prevalent in the NEK, a couple of guys from the St. Johnsbury Hemp Company named Fairbanks changed the world.”
In light of the surge in agricultural hemp and value-added product interest in Vermont, Heady Vermont is producing the first annual Vermont Hemp Fest at Burke Mountain, a day-long event that provides educational resources and community connections for those with an interest in agricultural hemp in Vermont, including landowners, entrepreneurs, farmers, artisans, and investors.
“We’re fortunate in Vermont that we have strong agricultural hemp protections and low barriers to entry,” said Heady Vermont Publisher Monica Donovan. “Now that a much larger market is emerging locally, regionally, and nationally, we think it’s important to provide resources, information, and practical instructions to as many interested parties as we can.”
Title sponsors include: The University of Vermont Agricultural Extension, Ceres Natural Remedies, the Vermont Hemp Company, Humble Roots Horticulture and the PhytoScience Institute. Media partners include Front Porch Forum.
Hemp Fest will kick off with a pre-registration party on Friday, September 8 including live music. Exhibitor displays, workshops and programming will take place on Saturday, September 9 in the brand new Burke Mountain Hotel and Conference Center. Keynote speakers include Kentucky hemp farmer and Growing Warriors founder Michael Lewis.
The event will also include a business pitch competition sponsored by Purple Fox Engineering. The pitch competition will feature five final teams/individuals giving ten minute pitches to judges who will select a winner to receive a $1000 cash prize along with over $2000 in in-kind support.
Panel session presenters include the Vermont Agricultural Extension, who will share practical information for Vermont landowners and farmers; the Vermont Hemp Company, who will share information and answer questions about planting, cultivating, and harvesting hemp in Vermont; and Ceres PM, who will lead a ‘CBD 101’ workshop to discuss the current possible uses for ‘cannabidiol’, a non-psychoactive compound that has been used to treat seizure disorders, PTSD, concussion recovery, and increasingly for general wellness. There will also be a business development panel and Vermont product showcase panel featuring local and regional hemp leaders and entrepreneurs.
Following the exhibitions and workshops, there will be live music at the Burke Mountain Hotel in the evening and outdoor fire pits. The weekend wraps up with a Sunday breakfast and outdoor activities, as participants wrap up the first annual Hemp Fest.
“Completely independent of medical and adult-use marijuana, the hemp industry is exploding and we think that there’s a great opportunity for our Vermont working landscapes and their farmers via value-added agriculture, both in the Northeast Kingdom and statewide,” said Heady Vermont Editor Eli Harrington.
Other activities and events that will be offered during Hemp Fest include yoga, mountain biking, hiking, golf and more.
Tickets are $10 for Heady Vermont members and $20 for all other members of the public. Visit the Vermont Hemp Fest landing page and purchase your tickets here. Discounted lodging rates at the Burke Mountain Hotel are available. For sponsor, exhibitor, and vendor packages, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.