Historic Hemp Harvest - October 5-6, 2013 - Springfield, CO

On Saturday, October 5th, we woke with the dawn and made the 150+ mile trip to a farm just outside of Springfield, Colorado. The proprietors of the farm had requested as many volunteers as possible to help harvest their summer crop. We were not, however, there to harvest corn or hay or any of the other "dry" crops which are commonly cultivated in that arid region.

We had come to help harvest a seventy acre field of industrial-grade hemp, the first privately grown crop since its cultivation was banned in the United States, more than fifty years ago. With the passing of Amendment 64, large scale hemp cultivation became legal in the state of Colorado, opening the door to an industry which has been dominated by Canadian farmers for more than three decades. Though official regulations for hemp cultivation are not set to go into effect until 2014, Ryan Loflin and his family decided to take the risk and sow their fields with hemp seed, a crop which they had been researching for over ten years for it's health benefits and it's ability to rejuvenate depleted soils.

We arrived just as the first two truckloads were being unloaded in the barn, and we took the opportunity to help and to get to know the other workers. as well as the owners of the farm, the Loflins. After a short break, the volunteers piled onto the flatbeds of two trucks, each with a large canvas to cover the hemp with. A large portion of the crop had been picked earlier in the day, as well as the day before, but more than half of the field still remained. We spread ourselves out in a line and worked our way down the field, pulling hemp plants up by the roots and disentangling them from the foxtails and wild morning glory vines which had grown thickly between the plants. We spent the afternoon piling hemp stalks onto the two flatbed trucks until they were completely loaded, with volunteers occasionally making the rounds and collecting bundles of hemp from the pickers.

After the day's harvesting was done, we returned to the barn and piled the hemp onto large steel grates, where they awaited further processing. Every bit of the hemp would be used; the stalks would be processed into raw fibers, the leaves used for oils and dyes. A small portion of the seeds would be required to replant the field next summer, and what seeds were left would be sold to various companies who would press them for their oils and use them in various food products; Hemp I Scream's founder Agua Das was present, and would apparently be receiving a large portion of seeds to be used in his famous ice creams.

This video is compiled from pictures and vids that I took during our day at Loflin Farms. I attempted to show some of the growing hemp plants in the video clips taken from the back of the truck, but my digital camera is pretty old and it doesn't look like you can actually see any of the plants in the field.

Here are a few links to some news stories about the event, for more information:

www.nytimes.com/2013/08/06/us/groundwork-laid-growers-turn-t;amp;_r=1&smid=tw-share

303magazine.com/2013/10/field-dreams-colorados-ryan-loflin-h

www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/02/americas-first-legal-hemp_

And here is the website for the farm and their hemp company:

rockymountainhempinc.com/

I really shouldn't have to say it, but for those who don't know, the music is Neil Young's amazing ballad "Harvest Moon".