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My Daddy is a Hemp Farmer

by Wally Clark on 2020-07-23T09:40:34-07:00 | Comments

The other day while I was out walking, I stopped and talked with a local farmer. We chatted about the weather, the health of his crops, the state of the industry, and how hard it is to turn a profit in a saturated market. We also talked about library resources that he could find online and use to aid his business. When I found out that he was a family man, I made sure to share information about our Summer Reading program and other services that he and his kids could find on our website. It was a very satisfying visit, a bit of outreach on the fly.

I live in Talent, a small, sweet town if there ever was one. I like that I can leave my apartment and within a few minutes walk find myself out and about among orchards, vineyards, farm plots, and vast fields filled with all kinds of domesticated animals. These walks always leave me at peace. The beauty and the majesty of the land never cease to amaze me, even eight months in.

I once worked for the Jackson County Library, almost thirty years ago. Times have changed since then and the region has changed along with it. When I last lived here, the timber industry was still the industrial giant to contend with. Logging shared the local economy with agriculture, government, and other health, tourism, and service related industries. Fruit baskets filled with apples and pears were once the big takeaway treat for tourists. These days, I see roadways lined with signage announcing the presence of many local wineries. So now one kind of fruit shares space in a picnic basket with another. Combine those two with some local cheese and treats from a farmer’s market and you have plenty of farm fresh goodness to partake in under a shady oak tree!

One plant in particular that has really taken off since I’ve been here last is cannabis. When I moved back to Southern Oregon it was interesting to see that the state legalization of cannabis and federal acceptance and regulation of hemp made it much easier for folks to grow, partake in, and advocate for the plant without having to deal with the myriad legal or social stigmas that were attached to them in the past.

One of the things I find fascinating is the large number of families involved in the farming of hemp. This is something that I get to witness every time I take my walks. I love how, in the midst of all that lush, budding greenery, I see homes that are filled with caring, multi-generational folk who are involved in the growing and production of a very valuable, biodegradable, naturally medicinal, industrially important, and extremely versatile plant. What’s nice, too, is that the majority of the hemp farms I have seen are small ones, not like the massive corporate holdings I read about that are happening elsewhere. Those small farms help to make the local hemp scene feel more like a return to the times when family owned and operated farms were the standard for the region, not the exception.

The handful of hemp farmers I’ve met here in Talent defy the media stereotype of the cannabis grower. They are just everyday folk, working hard to meet the needs of their farms and family while trying to satisfy the many local, state, and federal government guidelines and regulations they must contend with in order to be part of the hemp industry. They are pioneers in many ways, legitimizing the hemp scene while working towards building a sustainable business model in the midst of an industry packed with outside business interests who are only here to participate in the “green rush,” not build community. In the small towns that dot the Rogue Valley, community matters. Many of these farmers have deep roots here, are folks who have been growing cannabis for generations, and are now happy to be considered legitimate, tax paying citizens of Jackson County.

This is where I feel Jackson County Library Services comes in, as purveyors and disseminators of knowledge and information for all members of the community. We have a vast catalog with dozens upon dozens of titles available that cover all aspects of the cannabis plant. We have books about the history of the plant while others talk about its medicinal uses, benefits to the body and mind, its craft potential, and its uses in recipes and various health products. There are books on growing hemp, on how to build a cannabis business, and on how to meet the special needs of medical users. The Library has built into the catalog search various Gale business, agricultural, and horticultural online resource links and well as a Weiss Bank Rating tool that will help give our local, specialized agricultural workers the edge they need to succeed.

But amidst all the hard work, we strive to build and share a sense of play, too. The Library is a valuable source of fun and entertainment for those farm youngsters as well. The other day, as I mentioned, I shared with that dad all the fun online resources Jackson County Library Services has for his kids to use and enjoy there at home. I told him about Summer Reading, storytelling and storytime programs available online, as well streaming resources like Hoopla and Kanopy. It was a grand outreach moment: not only was I able to let him know about resources that would help and aid his business enterprise, I was also able to share with him links to online worlds that his kids might enjoy, too. All in a day’s work, side-by-side with local farmers who are here helping to change the world, one plant at a time.

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