Local hemp activist to speak at hemp
Summer Haeske of EnviroTextiles will discuss the history of
Summer Star Haeske, 30, is the director of sales and marketing at EnviroTextiles on South Grand Avenue, and she will be at the Colorado Industrial Hemp Farming Symposium on March 21.
The symposium, sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and the Hemp Industry Association, is to be at The Ranch Events Complex in the First National Bank Building, 5280 Arena Circle in Loveland, from 6-9:30 p.m.
With passage of Amendment 64 to the Colorado Constitution last year, hemp is now a legal industrial crop in the state. But any such industry lacks specific enabling legislation and establishment of the industrial infrastructure.
Haeske, along with her mother and founder of the business, Barbara Filippone, has been at the forefront of efforts to re-establish the production and manufacturing of industrial hemp in the U.S. and in Colorado specifically over the past two decades.
“My mom had me sitting in on Senate hearings about hemp back when I was 10,” said Haeske in a recent interview at EnviroTextiles.
At the symposium, she said, she will speak about the history of hemp, which in the U.S. started in the 1600s, when hemp was considered one of this country's most vital crops.
Hemp was declared illegal around the 1930s in the U.S., because state and federal officials mistakenly believed that hemp was the same as the drug marijuana.
Hemp, however, is now known to contain almost no THC, or tetrahydrocanabinol, the psychoactive substance in marijuana that makes people high.
And, its advocates say, hemp can be used to make thousands of products, such as industrial lubricants, textiles and ropes, paper and particle board, health products and something called “hempcrete,” a substitute for concrete.
“So many people have no clue that our first flag was made of hemp,” Haeske said, referring to the fact that early U.S. flags were made of hemp because no other fabric was known that would stand up as well to the harsh conditions aboard sailing ships and in other outdoor venues.
She said the U.S. and Colorado contain numerous abandoned industrial facilities, such as a fiberboard plant near Delta, textile plants scattered throughout the southern states and paper mills everywhere, which could provide a ready industrial platform for processing industrial hemp products.
And a central goal, said Eric Steenstra, president of the Vote Hemp organization, one of the speakers scheduled for the symposium, is to get hesitant Colorado farmers and ranchers to come to the symposium to learn about the possibilities of hemp agriculture.
“Our main target is to reach out to farmers,” Steenstra told the Post Independent recently. “We're hoping that farmers from everywhere in Colorado can come and learn about the issue.”
A number of speakers will join Haeske and Steenstra in Loveland.
Among the speakers will be Colorado Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass, who has worked with the Hemp Cleans nonprofit group, which is pushing for use of hemp as a remediation filtering agent for industrially polluted soil.
Other speakers will include:
• Shaun Crew, president of Hemp Oil Canada;
• Anndrea Hermann, president of Hemp Industries Association and online instructor for an industrial hemp course at Oregon State University;
• and David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, who will discuss his company's interest in buying and marketing hemp-oil products.