Vancouver Island farmer hails hemp as demand grows

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Blake and Kirsten Hunter, with four-month-old Nahko, amid their hemp crop near Cobble Hill. Photograph By Juliana Wigmore – See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/business/vancouver-island-farmer-hails-hemp-as-demand-grows-1.2030591#sthash.fXT4uqHZ.dpuf

A Vancouver Island farmer is mounting a new effort to promote growing industrial hemp as demand for the products made from the crop increases.

Area farmers are expressing interest in growing hemp, said Blake Hunter of Good Seed Hemp Co. Inc., which sells hemp hearts, oils and protein powder.

“I am excited that this plant is being grown again here and believe that it can empower young and small-scale farmers,” said Hunter. “There is so much room for growth as more people discover the amazing health benefits and multiples uses of hemp.

“Victoria and Vancouver Island are probably the most receptive places in the country for hemp [products],” Hunter added.

His crop in the Cobble Hill area follows efforts by farmers in 1998 to grow hemp on a combined 35.6 acres on the south and mid Island. But ongoing problems with thieves led at least one farmer, Vern Michell on the Saanich Peninsula, to plow under a million plants.

Industrial hemp is not the same as marijuana, which contains the drug that gets people high. But some people don’t understand the difference. That’s why Hunter keeps the specific location of his leased site secret.

Originally from Saskatchewan, Hunter is a fifth-generation farmer. Starting in 2005, he grew hemp on the family farm, using seeds for the company’s products.

Good Seed Hemp products are sold at the Farmers’ City Market in Fan Tan Alley and other retail outlets. About 35 per cent of sales are online, Hunter said, noting “almost all our customers are on the Island.”

His only hemp crop this year allowed for planting on five of his 10 acres where he anticipates harvesting 3,000 pounds of seed. Plants grow up to 1.2 metres tall.

Seeds will be processed at a Salt Spring Island facility, he said.

Hunter said he is Metis and that hemp has been a traditional crop for indigenous nations in North America.

With harvest time approaching, Hunter has put out a call for 30 volunteers to cut and stook plants prior to threshing.

Hunter is hoping that interest in learning about hemp production will encourage people to turn out. Interested people can contact him at goodseedhemp.com

– See more at: TimesColonist.com