An Essay on Hemp Farming in Minnesota

There are many different views on the new hemp industry. While the excitement is pushing some to give farming a try for themselves, others may have a bad taste in their mouth when it comes to this renewed crop. As we see the industry grow, more and more will be learned every day. Korvessa Farms was lucky enough to be a part of that learning experience through the MDA pilot program this year. By participating in the program, it allowed us to discover more about the hemp plant than we ever thought there was to know. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that after getting through my first year of hemp farming, the outcome was far from expected.

Jake working on the farm
Jake Forsberg of Korvessa Farms

Hemp in Minnesota saw significant growth in 2019, largely due to the boom in popularity of Cannabidiol. CBD came full force this year and it’s showing no sign of slowing down. It’s really getting people excited. When looking at this very quickly growing industry, don’t expect to see your typical line up of farmers. Hemp is bringing in all walks of life; from farmers with decades of experience who are exploring this “new” crop, all the way down to 20 something-year-old kids like us who see an opportunity to explore farming and participate in a revolutionary industry that has been banned for far too long. Hemp is creating a new generation of farming and we’re excited to be apart of this new experience.

As much as we would like to say that our hemp operation is a smooth running, well-oiled machine, with all of the pieces in the right place. That’s farther from the truth than we would like to admit. But we all have to start somewhere. Korvessa Farms operates on a fifty-acre farm in northern Minnesota, and we fly our Finnish flag high. The farm is inhabited by me and my girlfriend, we’re a young hopeful couple living in a 17’ RV with not much more than some old fashioned, wooden-handled tools and a pocket full of spirit. I believe that demonstrates the true power and resurgence of this crop. I also believe that we are not alone.

Local Hemp Farmer

Beyond the drive and dedication that is required for large scale hemp farming, it’s important that you’re ready for anything and that you remember every day is a learning experience. I wouldn’t recommend jumping in unprepared. At this stage in history, hemp farming is a difficult thing to prepare for. Each farmer is using different tools and methods. Many people are diving into the farming industry for the first time with very little experience.

Ready or not, Korvessa Farms dove right into the risky, but lucrative industry. We knew there was a chance that this first summer would not produce much more than a learning experience. Hope, passion, and sacrifice may seem like the right ingredients for success, but as summer turned to fall and the harvest season approached, many farmers would strongly disagree. Hundreds of farmers are currently in the process of finding processors and buyers for their CBD crop. Because we’re in a new and growing industry, there is a lack of organization and many people are searching for answers, including Korvessa Farms. This industry is risky and there is no room for overconfidence.  

Many farmers knew that 2019 wouldn’t be much more than a learning experience. Take our unfortunate mishaps as examples for things you cannot predict: It had been two months since we purchased our feminized seeds, and it was approximately thirty days before we were expecting to plant. We felt we were ready for planting and then all of a sudden our order was canceled. This led to us frantically searching for seeds having less than a month to plant the seeds into the ground. It is very difficult to find seeds in May.  Luckily, we knew a fellow farmer had non-feminized seeds (male and female) but it required Korvessa Farms to buy twice as many seeds. Not only did this double our workload and triple our risk, but it also cut our plant spacing in half, as we left it up to fate and hoped that every other seed in our rows were male.

Luck was not on our side, and we quickly learned this would not be our only obstacle throughout the growing season. While most mistakes are a learning experience necessary for growth, farmers must also remember that they are on mother nature’s court. Despite the glorification and overall interest of CBD, this is still farming, and like any other crop grown outdoors, nature’s elements are unpredictable. 

Korvessa Farms

It’s really interesting to think about what direction hemp could influence farming. Farmers can utilize hemp as a rotational crop or also be the driving force of an individual’s farming operation that operates inside of an industry that needs a revolution. Hemp can bring many products to the table, from clothing to plastics to building materials, and so on. We’ve all heard of these opportunities, but how will these products be embraced by society? Will there be an opportunity for hemp to be apart of the future of farming? I wonder how many houses in the country will be insulated with hempcrete? Will society be able to look past the stigmas and push forward into this new industry? Our high fashion clothes, textbooks, and even our medicine could all change for the better.

Either way, it’s been enjoyable to become a part of the growing number of hemp farmers in Minnesota. And it’s exciting to imagine where the industry could be in five, ten, or even fifty years from now. I don’t have any doubts that hemp will be good for farmers. We are on the cusp of this new generation of farming and the excitement could go one of two ways; a thriving new industry or a fad just waiting to fade. And, while every possibility needs to be entertained, but I don’t plan on it being the latter. 

To contact Jake and Shelby, reach out to them here:

korvessa.farms@gmail.com