Doug Fine: American Hemp Farmer - A Book Excerpt


Doug Fine: American Hemp Farmer

– A Book Excerpt –

Suburbanite turned hemp farmer and regenerative living expert

Shares the attack on his goats that was sparked by climate change

And led him to his path as an expert hemp farmer.

Doug Fine’s “American Hemp Farmer” Sizzle Reel (2:47)
TV Series in development and available for distribution.

Hemp expert, author, journalist, goat herder, speaker, host, and regenerative farming educator Doug Fine shares his point of transformation to an expert hemp farmer. An excerpt taken from his book, American Hemp Farmer, tells the tale of a bear attack on his goats spurred by wildfire that clearly showed the long chain of effects climate change is having; proving that “humanity is in the bottom of the ninth, with two outs.”

Fine is the author of six books including American Hemp Farmer and the Boston Globe Bestseller, Farewell, My Subaru. His writings and expertise have led to media appearances (Conan, Tonight Show, BBC, CNN) as well as a TED Talk (TEDxABQ) and testimony before The United Nations regarding international drug policies. He has raised goats and cultivated superfoods (including hemp since its 2018 legalization) for more than a decade and taught his methods of cultivation and seed building at Vermont’s Sterling College and online at Most recently, Doug has cultivated hemp for food, farm-to-table products and seed-building in six U.S. states. His own hemp seeds have been used to clean contaminated soil in a New Mexico University study. Fine further spreads the word about culture and climate change with his award-winning journalism, which includes contributing to the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times, and being a long-time correspondent forNational Public Radio from five continents.

None of us would be here today, he says, if not for the regenerative lifestyle-and it’s only recently that humanity stopped living that way. So Fine hopes that we can reactivate that “instinctive regenerative awareness” and start working together to save the planet. Experienced, grounded, and a keen wit, Fine is the perfect person to shepherd us through the conversion.

Now in development, the American Hemp Farmer television series is based on Fine’s best-selling sixth book of the same name, released in April 2020 by Chelsea Green Publishing. As with the book, the series will see Fine-a former suburbanite-sharing his hard-won regenerative hemp farming expertise, which he admits is rooted in trial and error. We don’t all have to become farmers. This time, farmers can lead the way while everybody supports them through lifestyle tweaks. Buying their locally-sourced products, getting our produce from community-supported food co-ops or farmer’s markets, or even working in community gardens are all valuable contributions.



An excerpt from Doug Fine’s book, American Hemp Farmer

book cover – American Hemp Farmer

In 2013, a bear fleeing a wildfire in our New Mexico backyard killed nearly all of my family’s goats in front of our eyes. It wasn’t the bear’s fault: he was a climate refugee. Drought had weakened the ponderosa pines and Douglas fir surrounding our remote Funky Butte Ranch. Beetles took advantage, and all of southern New Mexico was a tinderbox. Ho hum, just another climate event that until recently would have been called a “millennial” fire.

The blaze cut a 130,000-acre swath that year, poisoning the air before the monsoon finally arrived about half a day before we would’ve had to evacuate. But it was too late for the large juvenile black bear, who’d lost his home and his mind. He didn’t even really eat most of the goats. We lost all but one of the animals that provided our milk, yogurt, and ice cream.

Baby Taylor Swift survived, but Bette Midler, Stevie Nicks, and Natalie Merchant (we name our goats after singers we like) perished, as did the bear several weeks later, care of a Game and Fish marksman, upon going after  a dozen of our neighbor’s sheep. We’ve had our climate change Pearl Harborthe event that shifted us into a single-minded new normal. If you haven’t had yours yet, you probably soon will. This is the paramount reason I’m an overworked employee of the hemp plant: The people I care about most are one blaze away from joining the world’s 20 million climate refugees. At least I get the pleasure of putting “goat sitter” under occupation on my tax form.

There’s nothing like wildfire-fleeing bears attacking your livestock before breakfast to hammer home the fact that humanity is in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs. The conflagration convinced me that I had to do something, personally, to work on this climate change problem. After some research about carbon sequestration through soil building, it became clear that planting as much hemp as possible was the best way to actively mitigate climate change and help restore normal rainfall cycles to our ecosystem.

The good news is that I firmly believe — and some studies are starting to confirm — that regenerative, top-shelf farming practices result in the highest quality hemp, on all sides of the plant. So there’s the win-win: help stabilize climate and succeed in the marketplace. In fact, an enterprises’s regenerative practices can become a key art of its brand. For me, I emphasize “shaman”-style processing, organic certification, and compostable packaging.

(Above and below) Doug Fine plays with his goat kids
named Bette Midler, Nico, and Taylor Swift.
Doug Fine and his goat kids.