On a blazing September afternoon in the Lowcountry, a small group of farmers gathered in a field near Gardens Corner in northern Beaufort County to learn about South Carolina’s newest cash crop.
Blue Sky Processing held the first in a series of Cultivators Workshops on Sunday at its headquarters in Seabrook, educating about 20 industrial hemp farmers from throughout South Carolina on “Soil and CBD Science Basics.”
The attendance was only about half of what was expected due to uncertainty surrounding Hurricane Dorian, but Blue Sky President Jennifer Pfuhl was pleased with the turnout and excited about the feedback.
Local farmers told organizers they were impressed with the level of expertise provided and the educational nature of the program, rather than a thinly-veiled sales pitch.
“It was important for us to put together a program that truly educates farmers and helps them grow successful crops,” Pfuhl said. “Our goal with these workshops is to bring in people who are truly experts in their field and can share their wealth of knowledge with our local community.”
The featured speakers for the initial workshop were soil scientist Stephanie Connolly, founder of Ltt Soil LLC, and Dr. Uma Dhanabalan, a highly respected physician and founder and CEO of Global Health & Hygiene Solutions, LLC.
Connolly presented on “Basic Soil Principles 101,” and Dr. Dhanabalan focused much of her talk on the types of contaminants that can be found in hemp or cannabis crops and how they affect the consumer, as well as the importance of taking the body’s cues with regard to how it responds to medicinal products, including cannabis.
“Cannabis is not for everyone, yet it should be a first-line option — not the last resort,” Dr. Dhanabalan said. “Cannabis is not an entrance drug; it is an exit drug from pharmaceuticals, narcotics, alcohol and nicotine.”
For the second half of the program, attendees followed Connolly to an adjacent field for an in-depth presentation on soil principles. Connolly’s presentation focused on the specific types of soil found in various regions of South Carolina and the best strategies for growing successful industrial hemp crops in the region.
“Marrying soil science and health science for hemp production is crucial,” Connolly said. “Understanding the soil properties of your soil and land as a hemp farmer and taking responsibility for the quality of your product can be a direct link for soil health to public health with regard to heavy metals and pesticides. Soil site assessments give valuable insights and provide a farmer with tools to help create sustainable land management practices.”
Pfuhl says Blue Sky wanted to host the event in the spirit of collaboration and the notion that a rising tide lifts all boats.
“It was great to bring together many of the key players in the emerging hemp industry here in Beaufort County and throughout South Carolina,” Pfuhl said. “At Blue Sky, we value cooperation and collaboration and believe we all can benefit from working together to share what we’ve learned on each of our journeys.”
For more information, visit madebybluesky.com.
Above: Outside soil demo – Soil scientist Stephanie Connolly explains basic soil principles and the importance of the various layers of soil during her presentation at the initial Cultivators Workshop held Sunday, Sept. 8, at Blue Sky Processing in Sheldon. Photo courtesy of The Levy Group.