Hemp is Coming to America
Hemp is an amazing plant. To be clear, I am not talking about the kind of cannabis that can be smoked but the industrial hemp that can be used for just about everything else.
To give you a little background, industrial hemp has not been legally produced in the US for about 60 years. When the smokable form of marijuana was basically made illegal with the 1937 Marijuana tax act, the industrial forms went with it.
Ever since, people have been advocating to allow industrial hemp to be grown again in this country and it is finally happening! Research is currently under way in Colorado and Kentucky on how best to grow and process industrial hemp. This is super exciting for fiber nerds like me who want to be able to buy environmentally friendly textiles made in the USA.
Here is a great video about the Kentucky Cloth Project that shows some of the work that is currently being done to bring hemp growing back to the US.
And once that hemp is grown and processed it can be woven into textiles. This next video shows what one group of women are doing with Kentucky's newest crop.
So it may be awhile before you can run down to your local fabric or yarn store and pick up some american made hemp products but that day may come. Until then I have decided to offer Chinese made hemp and hemp blend fabrics in my on-line store.
Why? For two main reasons. One, I want people to be exposed to hemp fabric. Because it has not been grown in this country for a generation or more most people have totally forgotten that hemp is a great textile fiber. If people can get hemp fabric then they will want more hemp fabric and that will help the farmers and manufactures in the US when they do start to grow and make it here. So for the time being I will happily sell foreign hemp until we can catch up and begin producing a more local product.
Secondly, hemp is more environmentally friendly than cotton. Yes, even organic cotton. Hemp yields at least twice as much fiber material per acre than cotton (and often more than double) while using far less water. And hemp is farmed without pesticides and herbicides so it is far better environmentally than conventionally grown cotton. If you really want to know all the amazing things that hemp can do and be used for then read Hemp Bound by Doug Fine.
I know it could be quite a while before hemp textile manufacturing returns to the US but I will keep you up to date. Myself and many others would love to support the hard working people of the Kentucky Cloth Project or other such groups that strive to create jobs, produce quality sustainable products and be stewards of the land and animals.
(Title photo from Fibershed website.)