One of the most natural and healthy, recyclable crops ever grown, hemp's seemingly had a bum rap for the last half of a century in this country. However, the crop has managed to make quite a comeback over the last decade, with more and more realizing just how many fantastic benefits this green-leafed plant yields without the use of harmful pesticides while conserving natural resources.
Celebrating the history and versatility of the industrial hemp plant, local sources have organized a fourth annual Hemp History Week, with special events taking place through June 9 throughout the Southwest Florida area. On the island, Nervous Nellie's is offering a special celebration Thursday, June 6, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the 1131 First St. location, followed by an off-island celebration at World of Beer, 13499 S Cleveland Ave., that night, from 8 to 10 p.m.
"So many people don't have any knowledge of industrial hemp, and how beneficial it is to us and our bodies. This is what the local celebrational events are all about it's about showing people just how good hemp is for us," said Hemp Week lead coordinator Ingrid Setzer. "It's so good for you and if we could grow it here, it would be so much more inexpensive. The qualities offered from hemp are even better for you than eating fish. It's so easy for the body to assimilate, and is loaded with 'edestin,' a protein our bodies must have to produce antibodies, which are vital to maintaining a healthy immune system. It is also loaded with vitamin E, which is great for your skin."
During the local Hemp Week events, Ada's Natural Foods Market will be on-hand, offering several free samples of hemp dishes and hemp drinks, stickers and shirts, along with smooth and refreshing Humboldt Hemp Ale, as well as Dr. Bonner's Magic Soap, created from hemp oil, which is piled high with an extremely beneficial value of vitamins for the skin.
"Nutiva sent the restaurant three different types of hemp protein powder for that evening, which can be mixed with milk and other liquids, for a great, tasty and nutritional drink. And as for food, we will have hemp seeds and hemp oil, which can be added to any dish, making it that much better for you, as well as simultaneously tasty,"?Ingrid said. "You can even add it to your salad. There are several great recipes offered on the internet for cooking with hemp seeds and hemp oil."
Another product created from hemp is a textile, used to create clothing that is not only durable and environmentally feasible, but scientifically works with your body in the most interesting of ways.
Richard Dash, owner of the Dash Hemp clothing line, based out of Santa Cruz, Cali., as well as a member of the board of directors of the Hemp Industries Association (TheHIA.org) explains the versatility of this textile.
"Hemp clothing is much more durable, with its well-structured cellulose content, and feels absolutely terrific. And, it actually works with your body temperature, keeping you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter," he said. "Many think hemp clothing is made of a burlap-type material and it's not; it's actually softer than cotton, and when you put it on, you say, 'Wow, this is different. This feels great.' As it's naturally anti-microbial; hemp clothing can be worn a week, even 10 days or longer, and it continually kills bacteria and fungus. For this reason, many hospitals worldwide use hemp bedsheets. Even Armani loves hemp."
Richard Dash's Dash Hemp clothing line will be modeled during the Hemp Week celebrational events at Nervous Nellie's and World of Beer in a fashion show by FGCU students, showing off its style and versatility that evening, along with a local clothing company, Bamboo and Things.
Hemp Week events locally
Tuesday, June 3: Chuck's Last Stop, all day.
Tuesday, June 3: Ford's Garage
Thursday, June 6: Nervous Nellie's, 6 to 8 p.m.
Thursday, June 6: World of Beer, 8 to 10 p.m.
"Hemp is a fiber that's been used to make clothing for 8,000 to 10,000 years it's actually the oldest fiber humans have used to make clothing," Richard said. "Because it's grown in such a tight fashion, weeds do not grow within the crop, so there is no need for harmful herbicides or pesticides, and it takes very little water to grow; the roots are very deep, bringing up all of the nutrients from the soil."
"The day I learned about the properties of hemp, I was speaking to a farmer friend of mine, and how he wished he could grow hemp," Ingrid said. "I was wondering what he was talking about. When he told me about this fabulous crop that chokes out all of the weeds, not needing any fertilizers, with deep-growing roots that bring all the nutrients from the soil into the plant, I?was on fire, and have been ever since!"
Making the event even more interesting will be Bob Clayton's exhibit from Florida Hempcrete. This Florida home builder figured out a way to build and design houses made entirely out of hemp. As a matter of fact, he has the only "Hemp Home" in the state of Florida.
"Bob will have some hemp building materials on-hand during the celebrational events this week," Ingrid said.
Several historical items also will be on exhibit that day as well, including historical documents and currency depicting the hemp-enriched life once witnessed throughout the country.
"Hemp was once used as a form of currency and it can feed the world," Richard said. "Ten years ago, if hemp was mentioned anywhere in the country, it was big news because it was so obscure. Now, more and more are realizing the benefits of this product. It's vitally important for this country, for the farmers for the country in general. Planting hemp instead of cotton, which uses so many pesticides and so much water, would be so much better for our environment and our country. It can be grown just about anywhere, doesn't require any harsh chemicals and doesn't need nearly as much water as cotton does."
As the list of uses for hemp grows and grows, with the public's knowledge continually growing and growing, online courses are now offered through Oregon State University on "Hempethics," with local FGCU students the first to enroll in the course (visit Hempethics.Weebly.com), Ingrid said.
Also, Ingrid said a local Naples native, Linda Booker, recently released her "Bringing It Home" documentary, about industrial hemp, healthy houses and a greener future for America, currently being screened this week all around the nation. Visit BringingItHomeMovie.com.
For further information on local hemp events, or how you can get involved, visit FLHempfest.com.
To learn more about Dash Hemp's clothing line and the versatility and health factors of wearing breathable, natural hemp clothing, visit DashHemp.com or email DashSC@yahoo.com. Dash Hemp clothing is locally sold at Palmetto's Apparel, Fort Myers Beach.
Other sites based on the hemp crop include VoteHemp.com and TheHIA.org.
"It can really help save this planet we really need to get away from petroleum-based products," Richard concluded. "You can make anything with hemp. You can make paper that lasts hundreds of years. It's so natural and so healthy. Five to 10 years from now, you'll see on the cover of Times Magazine: 'Hemp: What've we been thinking?'"