In early 2019, Rachael and Jesse Smedberg took a leap of faith and bought a corn farm in Beecher. A corn silo remains on the 65-acre property that is now Tulip Tree Gardens and Wellness Farm, but corn is no longer grown there.
Instead, the Smedbergs operate a boutique-style farm stand and grow heirloom vegetables, flowers and hemp on just 10 acres at 1236 E. Eagle Lake Road. They sow the remainder with cover crops of rye grass and small grains as part of a seven-year effort to restore the soil.
“Hemp provides 85 percent of our income, but it’s not 100 percent of what we do,” said Jesse Smedberg, who shelved a career in heavy machinery and automation to take up sustainable farming.
So far, the Smedbergs have derived the bulk of their income by focusing on hemp for its derivatives, which are believed by many to relieve insomnia, regulate metabolism, reduce pain from arthritis and discourage seizures in those who suffer epilepsy.
Tulip Tree Gardens is also developing a lightweight, highly absorbent cat litter made from hemp leaves and stalks.
While the growing popularity of hemp relates to its purported healing properties minus the hallucinatory effects of marijuana, for centuries hemp was grown to produce rope, textiles, oils and livestock feed. Hemp also removes heavy metals from soils. [Read More @ The Chicago Tribune]