Michael Erickson’s newest cash crop was a real traffic stopper.
As the little green plants sprouted in his fields outside East Grand Forks and began to unfurl their jagged narrow leaves, Erickson started to notice more cars cruising along his road, slowing for a good long look at the waving fields of hemp — a cannabis strain that hadn’t been harvested commercially in Minnesota since the 1950s.
“Some people would get out of the car and run down into the field,” said Erickson, who harvested 140 acres of hemp last year on his land. I don’t think there was anything shady, or they were taking plants. It was just to look.”
Because last week was full of stress and grief, it sometimes helps to focus on green growing things and clever entrepreneurs who can turn weeds into ropes and oils and potions and lotions and bags of overpriced hemp seeds at Whole Foods.
Minnesota’s industrial hemp pilot program is flourishing as it heads into its third growing season. More and more farmers like Erickson are working the cannabis strain into rotation beside their soybeans and sugar beets. [Read more at Star Tribune]