In Upstate New York, some farmers believe that they’ve found the state’s next big cash crop – hemp.
Other farmers are saying hemp may be the next super food like kale.
JD Farms is located in Eaton, about 30 miles Southeast of Syracuse.
It’s the states first legal hemp farm in 80 years.
Daniel Dolgin left the White House for the farm house. After working in counterterrorism for many years, he now co-owns JD Farms with his business partner Mark Justh.
A change in the 2014 farm bill made agricultural production of industrial hemp possible.
Hemp comes from the same species as marijuana and it’s constantly mistaken for pot, but it’s not the same product.
“You could smoke a whole football field of hemp and all you’ll get is a headache so there’s really no relation in terms of what it will do to your body chemistry,” said Dolgin.
Industrial hemp plants contain almost no THC, the compound in marijuana that gets you high.
Larry Smart, professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics in the Horiculture section at Cornell University is leading the hemp farming effort in the Southern Tier.
“There’s a lot of public interest in hemp in all three products we can harvest and that’s the fiber for fabrics and other building materials, the grain for food products and very healthy oils as well that may have some health benefits for some people,” said Smart.
The plants at Cornell have been harvested in October. The research team is experiencing what grows best on New York soil and plant breeding.
Dolgin and Justh say hemp is the new cash crop and could be the next kale.
“When you look at the nutrition, it’s really an amazing profile and the flavor is there, and no one was growing this as a baby green so we thought that would be a really interesting market to explore,” Dolgin said.
About a year later, after the farm’s first crop, you can now find their products at restaurants in New York City, Whole Foods Markets and in Ithaca.
The Piggery Butcher Case on Franklin Street in Ithaca sells the farm’s baby hemp greens.
“I cant wait for the next harvest because they (people) have been calling nonstop, looking for the leaves” said Piggery owner Heather Sandford.
The store also makes hemp products of their own.
“We have fun with the product, we make a hemp flour based sausage as well as a hemp leaves sauce for our meat here at the shop,” Sandford said.
With a product that’s strong as textiles and high in protein – could hemp really be a super food like kale?
Sandford tells 18 News “I think that’s great. People are interested in greens with a high nutritional value. That’s what hemp is known for.”
“The next kale? Well I’m not a huge fan of kale but again there’s a lot of excitement around kale as a new crop, so if that’s what you mean then there is excitement building around hemp but I’m not sure how good it tastes,” said Smart.
“We started tasting the leaves out in the field and realized that to our surprise, it really had this very nutty, buttery rich taste that was different than what you’d expect and we started having folks up and they would taste and everyone thought this could be the new kale,” Dolgin said.
Dolgin also tells 18 News to look for hemp in grocery stores early 2018.
To learn more about JD Farms’ hemp products, visit http://www.jd-farms.com/
To learn more about Cornell University’s industrial hemp research, visit https://blogs.cornell.edu/industrialhemp/