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SALSA hosts local hemp farmers for presentation

October 1, 2018

Many people have forgotten about the rich history and relationship that hemp used to share with the United States nearly 100 years ago. However, there are some who still stand to preserve that history and relationship with hopes of growing the industry back to what it could have been and hopefully more. Jody and Abby Testaberg of Kinni Hemp Co. are just two of these people that are trying to educate people on the usefulness that hemp can have industrially, medically, and recreationally.  are doing so right here in River Falls.

On Tuesday, September 18, the Student Alliance for Local and Sustainable Agriculture (SALSA) hosted a local hemp farmer presentation that was open to the public from 6-7pm. Around 20 students, staff, and visitors took time out of their day to listen and ask questions. The Testabergs started their presentation by showing off the hydroponic-aeroponic hybrid grow tray system that Jody Testaberg designed for one of their company’s Whole Plant Technologies manufactures. Jody Testaberg later went a little more in depth about the specifics of hydroponics and aeroponics when answering a question from the audience stating, “Aeroponics is a way of cultivation that is essentially medium less. The plants are held in by a neoprene disk, then are essentially grown into a cavity and sprayed with nutrient rich water on various life cycles. Hydroponics is essentially a soil or another medium that is holding that root base in there and essentially holding that nutrient rich water for the plants to absorb.”

The Testabergs then talked about a company created by them called PhytoPharm.D, a company that specializes in helping people with CBD oil. Unlike the illegal THC cannabinoid that is known for giving its euphoric or high effect, CBD gives no such effects. Instead CBD acts more like a trigger on the body to start or stop different functions in the endocannabinoid system. However, it can still help with things such as limiting inflammation, which can benefit people experiencing pain, insomnia, and other immune-system responses.

The Testabergs also talked about their company Kinni Hemp Co., which is focused on the production of industrial hemp right here in River Falls. In the state of Wisconsin, it is legal to farm industrial hemp if your part of the state pilot program. The basics behind the program are to let companies farm hemp for industrial use while they send data back to the state for study. Despite this, farming industrial hemp can still be a bit tricky under these rules, sometimes leading to problems such as THC levels. Abby Testaberg told the audience, “Before every harvest the state sends someone out to check the THC levels of our plants, and if the plants THC levels are above three percent. Then that plant and any clones will have to be disposed of.” Luckily even if the plants are disposed of that doesn’t mean a hemp farmer will get kicked out of the pilot program, it just means they can’t use those plants and need to start over.

The Testabergs ended their presentation by talking about various uses for industrial hemp such as paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, and health food. They showed the audience a chart that listed various types of biofuels that showed hemp being possibly the best biofuel option, beating the rest by a long shot over time. Abby Testaberg also decided to show off her personal favorite use of industrial hemp, clothing and accessories. During all of this they passed around a bag of Hemp Hearts for the audience to snack on, which are just hemp seeds and can be compared to the taste of flaxseed.

After the Testabergs finished their presentation, they used the last 20 minutes as aQ&A segment with the audience. During the Q&A the Testabergs were asked what part of the job they found the most satisfying and was first met with a response from Jody Testaberg. He said, “In all honesty it’s the helping people side of it. I didn’t ever think when I was at a young age that I would get into anything that was going to help anyone on a daily basis, and that is 100 percent the best thing about this.”

Abby and Jody Testaberg are pushing for what they believe in by working from the inside. Although they are industrial hemp farmers here in River Falls, they travel all around the Midwest and even into Canada to help install their grow tray system and teach people about hemp. They both hope for a future where not just medical cannabis is legal for those that need it, but also where people can recreationally use cannabis without the fear of being labeled as a pothead. They are both very strong people fighting for what they think is right and trying to help others understand their ideals along the way.