hempx_asheville_2015Asheville-area farmers, entrepreneurs and other small business owners are coming together for a new September festival that will highlight economic benefits of growing industrial hemp, and the many uses of the product. HempX Asheville will be held at Highland Brewing Co. Sept. 18-19, and it will feature everything from panel discussions to a food tasting component.

Hemp fiber is known for its durability and sustainability. Industrial hemp is in the same plant family as marijuana, but has very little of the chemical components that make marijuana suitable for medicinal purposes and popular among recreational users. About half of U.S. states have legislation that allows the cultivation of industrial hemp. (Currently, North Carolina is not among them.)

“We’re hoping to dispel some of the myths about what hemp is,” says Jill Lieberman of Adapt. HempX Asheville will showcase all kinds of uses, from clothing and cosmetics to fuel and construction material.

HempX Asheville will not have any component that addresses the legalization of marijuana, say organizers, who stress that that issue is completely separate for the push to all the cultivation of industrial hemp.

Small farmers, especially those continuing the transition away from tobacco production, could benefit from the ability to grow industrial hemp, according to organizers. Entrepreneurs are continuing to

Proceeds from HempX Asheville will benefit Accelerating Appalachia, a small business accelerator for natural food-based businesses.

Here’s the official press release:

HempX, a collaboration between Adapt Public Relations, Highland Brewing Company and Asheville Event Co., is a family-friendly event that aims to educate the public about the many uses and benefits of industrial hemp.

Presented by Canna Energy, the two-day event will feature a fuel/fiber/food expo with local and national hemp vendors; a Taste of Hemp with small bites from local chefs; educational workshops with industry experts; and a diversity of speakers and live music each day.

HempX will be the first event of its kind held in North Carolina and local organizers hope to shine a light on the role the plant could play in helping revitalize the family farm throughout the state. Blake Butler, one of the event organizers, said, “Our goal is for HempX to be an educational experience. With hemp pilot programs currently moving forward in other Southern states, we’d like to accelerate the conversation about this opportunity for North Carolina.”

Leah Wong Ashburn, President of Highland Brewing Company, also sees the need to dispel the misconceptions about hemp, “I knew so little about hemp but I’ve learned it is a different plant from marijuana that is easy to grow, has multiple uses across industries, and negligible amounts of THC. HempX will educate more people like me on the real value of hemp.”

In January of 2015, The Industrial Hemp Farming Act was introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate, H.R.525 and S. 134 respectively. If passed, the bill would remove all federal restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp, and remove its classification as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. The number of states that have pro-hemp legislation continues to increase. Currently, 23 states may grow hemp per Sec. 7606 of the Farm Bill, including California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

With a primary sponsorship from Canna Energy and support from The North Carolina Industrial Hemp Alliance, the event will bring a diverse crowd to Asheville. Thomas Shumaker, NCIHA Executive Director, said, “This gathering comes at a perfect time for North Carolina and our network of activists, farmers and small business owners will be there in September.”

An incredibly versatile crop, hemp fiber, oil seed and flowers are used for a myriad of products—including health foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics and body care products, building materials, automobile parts, bio-composites, batteries, bio-fuel, textiles, paper and many others. There are estimated to be over 25,000 products made using hemp.

Sara Day Evans, Executive Director of Accelerating Appalachia, one of the area non-profits HempX will benefit, is enthusiastic about the event and its aspirations. Evans is also a native of Kentucky, a state where hemp was once an abundant crop.

“We at Accelerating Appalachia are particularly excited about the growth of the hemp sector in Appalachia and the U.S. The economic and ecological benefits of hemp are numerous – not only can it help boost small family farm income, but the nutrients in hemp help build healthy soil – with very little need for additives, hemp is easy to grow organically,” said Day. “We are seeing an increase in hemp businesses and start-ups reaching out to Accelerating Appalachia for business development support and we this trend increasing X-ponentially as laws are rolled back. It’s past time to restore one of the world’s oldest industries, and a founding industry for the U.S. that brings together our economy and ecosystems for a more regenerative Appalachia.”

The Taste of Hemp will be the only ticketed portion of HempX. Everything else will be free to the public.

One Comment

  1. Legalizing hemp growing in NC seems like a no-brainer. (I won’t continue with any more remarks re: the legislators. Too many possibilities.)

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