Ziigwaan bi dagoshin omaa. Spring is coming here. With each spring, comes the time when life is re born, and we make change. It is also a time of promise. Those promises are often kept by seeds. From one seed come many more.
Since we began this journey at Winona’s Hemp, we have been students. That is students of those who study the seeds, the medicines, the fabrics , history and technology choices . In January, we attended the Eco Farming Conference, learning more from older growers, about plant varietals. In March, we sponsored the Indigenous Hemp Convening at White Earth reservation, bringing together Indigenous farmers , economists, legal counsel, growers and producers. Some 150 people attended the conference, inspiring cooperation between tribes. We share stories of tribes and tribal farmers who had had their crops seized by the DEA , like the White Plume Family of Pine Ridge, and the Menominee Tribe. For those of us who have been growing hemp; we share our experiences. Seasoned growers talked to new growers; lawyers talked about federal and tribal policies and we ate a good deal of chocolate with hemp and CBDs. It was wonderful. The economy of the future needs cooperation; not competition. Hemp will be a part of that economy.
That is this time.
We all began talk about an Intertribal Hemp Association. This would be a place where we could share varieties, work on collective economic empowerment strategies, share technologies and build intertribal cooperation. Those are powerful ideas, as our ancestors, like Tecumsah, always said: that our peoples must work together.
In early March, I traveled to the University of Washington , where the Jackson School for International Studies has been working on a case study of Fiber Hemp Industry Restoration in First Nations, at the University of Washington . I listened to some amazing young people who have provided not only the foundation of a research document which can inform many of our decisions , but the basics of a curriculum we can use in our tribal college to teach about industrial hemp, from horticulture, to architecture and food. I came out so grateful for their hard work !
In March, I traveled again to California. This time, traveling with my sister, I went to speak with the Patagonia Hemp Team. I am interested in all of the cannabis plant. Like our other plant relatives, we are grateful for all of their gifts, whether medicinal and health oils, foods, or fiber. I am however, very interested in fiber, as we can all see the damages that the globalized clothing market.
Patagonia has a young, incredibly passionate, and informed team looking at fabrics. Patagonia’s Iron Forge Workwear is hemp; stylish and functional. We discussed which seeds , which are preferred for the fabrics they use, and the state of the industry. We talked about the leaders in the hemp renaissance, the “ enlightened age” of fabric returning, Mike Lewis in Kentucky, Barbara both working on decortication equipment, and we all talked about scales of decortication. Size matters in equipment. Decisions on size deeply effect local landscapes, capitalization, ecology and economics. We are all very keen on sustainable hemp economies, and I was grateful to the time my sister Bernadette and I spent with the people at Patagonia. In the end, I encouraged them to support the renaissance and support cooperation and collaboration between all of us
Back at the Farm
Back at the farm, the horses are happy. I’ve never had such a winter where I felt secure about my horse herd. They look good; a couple of new ones have joined us, Chaga and Kola , and the we are all keen on getting back to our horses.
The Hemp Farm is taken care of by my large extended family; and Water Protectors who have come to join us. Winona’s Hemp and Heritage Farm is also cared for by Horse People, Jason Ferris and Chuck Camp, Dakota and Lakota brothers from the west. The horses are happy although the impacts of climate chaos can be felt- that is temperatures and shifts are more rapid; making it harder for animals and all who are not in a “ temperature controlled environment”. Friends lose sheep in the cold snaps. My herd was fortunate and full of hay, grain and love.
The Hemp and Heritage Farm is a work of love, a land of hope. We continue to repair the farm and renovate it. This is to say that we’ve added bunk beds, put in a new water system, and are preparing to do more outside repairs and paint the buildings- the farm will be beautiful. I am hoping to host visitors and workers by June, which means a lot of work on the grounds; and with the horses. Make sure you contact us if you are interested !
The neighbors seem all to be pretty pleased with us, and curious. A couple of horse neighbors got away from their pasture, and stopped to visit one day; and we caught them for their humans. Good neighbors are horses as well as horse people !!
We are working on several varieties of hemp- looking for the best varieties, and we are planning to grow in five different places; keeping the varieties separate in different soils. We are talking to Hanka about seed varieties. Hanka is the and will be trying the grow out several varieties in some different soils; looking at intercropping our hemp with tobacco , sunflowers and quinoa,; as well as bergamot. I am so excited to work with the different varieties, including those which are good for CBDs, as well as for fibers.
Finally, we went to the NOCO Hemp Expo in Colorado in early April. I have never seen anything like it. I felt like I was Alice in Wonderland and had gone down the proverbial Rabbit Hole to Wonderland. I had walked into the Hemp World full of beautiful, enlightened renaissance revolutionaries.
I was so pleased to bask in body oils and creams, which along with hair care products make up a big money $ industry. I tasted so many hemp and CBD infused foods and drinks, coming back with some very big favorites in the chocolates, teas and hopefully pesto sauce. I was taken for a drive in a Mercedes limousine powered on hemp oil. We were overwhelmed.
I am going to try and bring some of the magic to the farm. We will grow, we will learn, we will sponsor workshops; and we will have a small store. That Farm Store will carry a variety of amazing hemp products as well as local foods. I am very pleased with all we have ahead !! We also hope to carry some hemp clothing and bird seed at the farm store. We hope to be open at the beginning of June!
In the meantime, I’ve met some amazing and inspirational leaders in the Hemp Renaissance; from the food company, Nutiva which is making a wide array of hemp products , to Mike Lewis a Veteran Farmer in Kentucky. Mike and I talked about crop rotation in small scaled hemp farming fields, and building soil. Barbara Filippone, a legend in textiles will be a true friend and colleague in the future for sure.
Perhaps most encouraging for me was the interest in supporting women and people of color in the hemp industry. I met so many people committed to the plant, and our Mother Earth, that I was truly inspired, and reaffirmed in all of this work.
As the NOCO ended, the Native community gathered again to talk about creating an intertribal hemp association, and we reaffirmed our commitments to our communities, our plants and our Mother Earth. We plant to continue gathering and sharing, and hope to launch our cooperative web site this summer. I came away full of hope and ready to care for my soil so that our seeds will grow.
Thank you again for your support.
If you are interested in continuing to support our work at Winona’s Hemp and Heritage Farm, please know that we are looking to build a nice greenhouse, and a hemp tiny home here as a model. We are hoping to raise $25,000 for this work. Miigwech for your time, and be assured that we will be a learning center for the hemp renaissance and committed to the seeds for the future. Thank you again for your support.
PS : If you want to make a charitable contribution which can received a tax exemption; we can accept that for our non profit work at Anishinaabe Agriculture Institute. For that write your donation check out to Anishinaabe Agriculture Institute, Box l52, MN 56570