From Mckenzie Moore Staff Writer of Delta County Independent

On Sunday, Feb. 23, The Learning Council and Valley Organic Growers Association hosted a panel discussion on growing regenerative hemp. The discussion took place 5:30 p.m. at the Edesia Kitchen at 395 Clark Ave. in Paonia.

The panel, made up of local experts and hemp growers, will answer questions from the community and talk about sustainable growing techniques.

“We’d really like to teach what people want to learn about, and we see that hemp is a trend right now,” said Alicia Michelsen, executive director of The Learning Council. “We’re noticing this trend of people growing hemp with plastic and things that cost a lot of money and don’t have a good environmental impact. We wanted to offer a session to learn from folks that are growing hemp in a way that is using minimal impact and no plastic, and having really good results.”

One of the focuses of the discussion will be on the environmental impact of growing hemp, as the current market standard involves more plastic and amendments than are often necessary.

“We wanted to share the knowledge of the hemp farmers and spread the word that even though it may be the market standard, there are very great alternatives that are economical and healthy for the plants, earth and consumer,” Michelsen said.

The panel discussion hopes to make an impact on the community by providing the knowledge and know-how to adjust the way people grow hemp, making it healthier for both the environment and consumers of the product.

“[We’re] hoping to increase the quality of the hemp industry here in the valley, so that maybe a new market standard could be not just organic but really conscious of what’s being put on the earth, what kind of relationship people are having with the plants and the industry,” Michelsen said.

The event will be open to everyone, especially those with an interest in agriculture and residents of the North Fork who are interested in growing hemp.

“People should come equipped with questions and curiosities, we’re hoping to have a real dialogue going,” Michelsen said. “We welcome other people who are growing hemp to share their ideas, and people who may want to grow in the future. People who are interested in agriculture in general will be able to get some good ideas about growing naturally and regeneratively.”

Local farmers, as well as experts from the Roaring Fork area, will lend their expertise to the discussion. Michelsen encourages others to bring their own ideas and inquiries, as the conversation will include both the panel and the audience.

“We’re hoping to get into the conversation as a community about growing hemp and whether it’s a sustainable thing for this community,” Michelsen said. “I think it’s going to be a really interesting event and really great conversation. We’re encouraging folks to get in on the conversation, and to bring their curiosities and their expertise.”

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Kori Stanton, Stanton Farms, moderated the discussion.