State’s first hemp farmer is in Ledyard

New London

Recreational pot didn’t pass in this legislative session, but farmers in Connecticut now have the right to grow hemp.

In just a few days the pallets in the greenhouse at Town Farm LLC in Ledyard could be filled with what is the start of the first hemp plants grown in the state.

“The goal is smaller plants in the northeast because we’re not sure of the weather,” said farmer Dylan Williams who spoke with Congressman Joe Courtney (D-Connecticut) at his Ledyard farm.

Related: Gov. Lamont signs hemp farming bill

He is officially the first hemp farmer in the state and he’s preparing to help others get started. He plans to use the fields on his Town Farm for hemp research and will plant 60,000 seeds in his greenhouse.

“I can kind of take on seed starts for local farms that need to get started quickly,” explained Williams.

Congressman Joe Courtney calls this historic.

“Benjamin Franklin was a big proponent of hemp growing for all the right reasons,” said Rep. Courtney.

But hemp a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant which has minimal amounts of the psychoactive THC was outlawed along with marijuana decades ago.

The 2014 and 2018 federal Farm Bills changed that allowing for hemp production at first in pilot program, and this year state lawmakers legalized the newly sprouting industry.

Congressman Courtney says hemp is an efficient crop and the fiber made from it is lightweight and strong.

“BMW actually uses hemp for its side panels for its cars,” said Rep. Courtney.

“As of this morning we’ve got 21 licensees,” said Bryan Hurlburt, Commissioner of CT Department of Agriculture. “We’ve got another 59 in the queue. We’ve got about 90 acres of hemp production that are waiting to grow this year.”

It’s another way farmers can diversify. All they need now is a way to process the raw hemp. 

“It does nothing for the producers if they have no place to sell their crops,” said Hurlburt.

“We’ve got to do everything we can to help agriculture sustainability in this state,” said Rep. Courtney.

The congressman says the next step will be a federal law change which would allow money transactions from Hemp farms to banks and that could lead to the first hemp manufacturer in the state.

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