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Your view: Hemp -- a replacement for trees

Studying the history and uses of hemp demonstrates that from an environmental standpoint, industrial hemp is the crop of the future.

Hemp was harvested by the Chinese 8,500 years ago, and is one of the oldest sources of textile fiber, with hemp cloth trailing back six millennia (Schultes and Hofmann, 1980 Hemp). Until the middle of the 19th century, hemp was described as “the king of fiber-bearing plants — the standard by which all other fibers are measured” (Boyce, 1900).

Hemp paper resists decomposition and does not yellow with age. Hemp paper can be recycled seven to eight times, compared with only three times for wood pulp paper. The USDA reported in 1916 that an acre of hemp produced as much paper as four acres of trees annually, yet 70% of American forests have been destroyed since 1916.

Fast-growing hemp is a substitute for many unsustainable products like non-organic cotton (which currently uses more than 25 percent of the world’s insecticides and more than 10 percent of the world’s herbicides).

Cotton uses about 50 percent more water per season than hemp, which grows with little irrigation. Hemp is a drought-resistant water miser plant, using drip irrigation, which ensures that every drop is used wisely.

Industrial hemp has a large tap root, capable of penetrating deep into the soil. This is a benefit, as hemp recovers nutrients that might otherwise be leached below the root zone and enter the groundwater. Also, the deep roots open up the soil and improve the soil for future crops. Products made of hemp produce environmentally friendly products that are easily recycled in compost or landfill. Hemp is non-toxic, recyclable, and 100% biodegradable and renewable. Hemp offers many different uses that can promote a more sustainable world. Hemp can help reduce global warming because it takes out large amounts of carbon dioxide per acre. High biomass crops such as industrial hemp sequester higher amounts of carbon, storing it in the body of the plant and its roots.

Southern Oregon’s unique Mediterranean climate is suited to growing hemp, grapes and produce. Hemp farming is creating new jobs. Hemp is a global product, and we are only a tiny corner of the world. The CBD flower is widely used by many, and fiber from the plant has exponential uses that will take the pressure off our forests, and other crops that use more water.

At our family farm, Oregon Premier Hemp, we do not use plastic. Everything we do is organic and regenerative. We truly believe in using only practices that are symbiotic with the health of the surrounding area. We have acreage set aside to grow food to keep balance. We agree that the plastic being used has to go, and are testing and improvising to implement efficient methods that are renewable and water-saving. Hemp is a sustainable crop, but only if the right methods are used.

Time to replace forest products with hemp.

Kathy Lambie lives in Medford.

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