Hemp In History!
The history of hemp growing in Vermont mirrors that in places where this hardy crop grows well.
It was a profitable crop from the state’s early history, but it fell out of favor when the federal government put restrictions on its’ use.
According to an op-ed piece on northstarmonthly.com:
"Hemp grew well in Vermont, and indeed through much of the early 19th century United States. The difficult part of the enterprise had always been to separate the stalk into useable fiber. American History Illustrated ran an article in June 1976, in which Ernest Abel described the procedure:
“Come harvest time the plants had to be pulled up by the roots and subjected to a long, laborious process before the fiber could be removed from the stalk. First, the hemp had to be laid out in the sun to dry, next it had to be rotted in water, and then it had to be dried again. After this second drying, the stalks had to be pounded by hand to free the fibers, which were cut from the stalk and drawn through a hackle. Next, they were placed on a reel and fashioned into long threads that were bleached and dried once more before they were ready for the loom.”
"After decades of inventive effort, a workable hemp dressing machine emerged in the early 19th century. In 1829, Thaddeus and Erastus Fairbanks responded to a surge of interest in hemp, becoming involved in the Passumpsick (not a typo) Company, sometimes known as the St. Johnsbury Hemp Company. Hemp dressing machines were in operation in Hardwick by the Lamoille Hemp Company, shortly followed by the Barton Hemp Company. In 1830, Thaddeus patented an improved dressing machine; the Fairbanks Mill manufactured them and the Passumpsick Company set up shop. Other partners sold seed and Erastus put out a pamphlet on hemp cultivation. It is not know how many farmers responded by growing the crop, but there must have been quite a few acres to keep the hemp facilities in operation. Indeed, it was the need to weigh wagonloads of hemp at the St Johnsbury Hemp Company that inspired the invention of the platform scale. The Vermont hemp boom was short-lived and by 1835 the other partners sold the hemp works to Thaddeus and Erastus and the building was
Nearly 185 years later, hemp has undergone a revival in Vermont.
The same article says:
"The current wave of marijuana legalization heralds a major change in attitude toward cannabis. In 2014, Congress allowed universities to begin research in growing industrial hemp, and the University of Vermont (UVM) was quick to jump in. UVM agronomist Heather Darby has been growing trials in Alburgh every year since, looking into growing methods appropriate to both fiber and oil production, and testing machines for planting, harvesting, and processing.”
Colomont, Inc. is on the leading edge of expanding the role hemp production plays in the future of Vermont’s agricultural economy and hopes to follow in the footsteps of the farmers in Vermont’s history who found the crop to be a boon to the land and their bottom line.