Wisconsin farmers harvest hemp for first time in 50 years

DELAVAN, Wis. —

Farmers in Wisconsin are one step closer to selling their hemp legally in Wisconsin.

For the first time in 50 years farmers in the state can legally grow hemp.

Steve Tomlins and Janet Gamble started harvesting one of their crops this week at Turtle Creek Gardens, an organic vegetable farm in Delavan. They used equipment from the 1950s and 1970s to do the job.

“This is what we had on hand,” Tomlins said. “And we want to show farmers you don’t have to have a bunch of big equipment, a bunch of fancy stuff and you can still grow this and make an income.”

To get to the harvest, the farmers had to pass the state regulated THC test. A surveyor checked the plants to make sure they don’t have more than 0.3 percent THC, the chemical in marijuana that makes users high.

“It’s the culmination of passion,” Tomlins said. “But there are still some unknowns. We still have a lot of work to do.”

According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, about 135 farmers are growing hemp in Wisconsin.

Dawn Schulz wants to get in on the effort and potentially start a hemp farm in the Chicago-area. She spent time shadowing Tomlins and Gamble during the harvest.

“They are making history here,” Schulz said. “People need to get the experience to pull it all together to reduce the risk for other farmers to do this next year. They can’t bet the farm on a crop unless they have assurance its going to be successful.”

Tomlins and Gamble will use some of their hemp plants to sell seeds to other farmers who want to plant hemp. Some of the buds will be used for Cannabidiol or CBD oil and a variety of other products including bedding.

Wisconsin farmers harvest hemp for first time in 50 years

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