Hemp harvest cause for Saturday celebration in Eau Claire

Published: Oct. 15, 2019 at 6:01 PM EDT
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The first local, legal hemp harvest in some eight decades is now underway in Berrien County, and it is cause for celebration in one southwest Michigan village.

On Tuesday, a dozen or so people continued to harvest this year’s comeback crop.

They used loppers to cut the stalks near the soil, then threw the plants into a converted bus. The bus eventually took the plants to a warehouse, where they will be dried.

BC Hempco hand-planted 32 acres of hemp outside of Berrien Center. There are about 7 acres left to harvest.

“It’s an exciting time for us, and we're excited to see what the future holds for this commodity,” said Jeremy Dybdahl of BC Hempco. “There’s over 30,000 industrialized uses for hemp, you know. We are only hitting one of those markets, one of those targets.”

On the bright side, the company did succeed in turning some of the hemp it planted this year into finished products like CBD oil and CBD-infused dog treats.

The frustrating thing is, it’s apparently easier to bring the plant immediately back to life than it is to take advantage of all that plant has to offer.

“There are very few manufacturers within a 1,000-mile radius of us that do things with the stalk and with the fiber, things of that nature,” Dybdahl said.

Perhaps that makes Saturday a banner day to roll out the inaugural Harvest and Hemp Festival.

Much like the Village of Eau Claire does during the Cherry Festival, Main Street will be closed through town. This time, 42 vendors will let folks know about the opportunities that legal hemp has opened up.

“We have 42 vendors in all variances, hemp orientation, cannabis orientation, all bringing lots of information on their industries and what they're doing personally,” festival organizer Rick Anstiss said.

He added that legal hemp will change almost every industry.

“Everything that we do, from the clothes that we wear to brushing our teeth, can have some implication of hemp in it,” he said.

Anstiss added that hemp can also be used to make anything from cardboard to plastics to hardwood replica flooring.

The festival runs 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

It will be family-friendly with two bounce houses, face painting, popcorn, snow cones and cotton candy for the kids.

For the adults, there will be five food trucks on-site, and a CBD-infused cooking contest will be held.