Doug Fine: American Hemp Farmer
– A Book Excerpt –
Suburbanite turned hemp farmer
and regenerative living expert
Shares the excitement of planting the first hemp seeds
on his family’s Funky Butte Ranch
Fine set to speak at SXSW’s
Climate Change Track in March 2022
Hemp and regenerative living expert, author, journalist, goat herder, speaker, and host Doug Fine shares his point of transformation to an expert hemp farmer. An excerpt taken from his book, American Hemp Farmer, Fine shares he and his family’s excitement in seeding their first hemp crop and honoring the land that allows and enriches life.
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 DougFine.com. 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. In March, he is scheduled to to speak at SXSW’s Climate Change Track.
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
Food Security On the Funky Butte Ranch:
The Sacred, Multi-species Prayer
at Our Family’s Regenerative Hemp Planting
Planting our first home hemp crop was a very big moment for us. This is where our sons were born. But it was the sheer number and variety of bees that kept grabbing our attention. They ranged from housefly-sized to small delivery drone. We talk about saving the bees, but I didn’t realize how fast it would happen. We started working around the field, hand-planting. Almost immediately I found myself in conversation with the local rabbits, of which the 2019 batch was stereotypically prolific. My position was basically a standing invitation to treat this crop more as an appetizer than a main course.
“We’re over-planting,” I said evenly, my mouth pressed close to one of the two softball-sized warren holes that had already opened inside our half-planted field. “Just so you, the birds, and the grasshoppers can have a taste. We request that you treat this year’s hemp as a sometimes food. So there’s enough for everybody.”
This crop, if all went well, would provide a good portion of our human and goat protein for a year. Zero carbon miles. Only good additives. And very few of those. I liked the feeling of knowing my family would survive another year, no matter what.
I breathed deeply, exhaled, and got back to business. I was in the soil with the people I love. There’s something about farming that mitigates the profound neural changes that have been brought about by our interaction with zeros and ones. Or maybe even since writing. The desire to ranch and farm stayed with me through four generations of city life, suburbia, and a transatlantic steerage voyage. It is who I am, at a fundamental genetic level. It’s where I am healthiest.
My family’s life is centered on getting our fingers in the soil, every day. Tomatoes, eggplant, elderberry, hemp, currant, mulberry, locust, broccoli, onion, corn, and arugula. My own fingers are browning the phone’s keyboard as I type. Seems like our only hope, to live this way. I can’t say I’m sure of the odds, but it seems worth a try at least. Beats the pants off the alternatives.
 The production of hemp (a cannabis plant that contains 0.3 percent or less THC – a psychoactive compound – content by dry weight) was federally illegal for commercial purposes until the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill), which authorized the production of hemp and removed hemp and hemp seeds from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) schedule of Controlled Substances.
 Hemp plants are highly efficient in carbon sequestration, which is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide (one of the most commonly produced greenhouse gases) and one method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the goal of reducing global climate change. The carbon emissions from cultivating hemp are mitigated by the plant itself, thereby adding zero carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
 Regenerative agriculture is harvesting in a way that allows you to harvest again next season, and the one after that. Ninety percent of Americans were farmers at the time of the American Revolution. One percent are today. For most of our existence as a species, this is how it worked for all humans: harvest, and you eat. Neglect to harvest, and you don’t see spring. Pretty simple. And humanity survived. You and I are proof. That’s what regenerative agriculture is: harvesting in a way that allows you to harvest again next season, and the one after that.