As Kentucky natives, we recognized the vital role hemp played in growing Kentucky’s early economy and its potential to be a agricultural and economic driver for the state today. In October 2014, following the first year of legal pilot projects in Kentucky under the Farm Bill, we launched the Kentucky Hempsters platform with a goal of inspiring the re-emerging Kentucky hemp industry through advocacy, education, community outreach and creative content.
Based in Lexington and Central Kentucky, we primarily (1) host, participate, and speak at hemp or hemp-related events, (2) create educational and promotional materials for industry partners and our online platforms, (3) grow demonstration hemp plots and facilitate the Heritage Hemp Trail in the counties and at historic locations once renowned for hemp production, and (4) collaborate on projects that aim to promote and advance the hemp industry through education and outreach.
Click here for a Q&A about Kentucky Hempsters with Tom Martin from Kentucky.com/Lexington Herald-Leader.
Historic Partnerships & Preservation Initiatives
We feel that educating Kentuckians on the past, present and future of hemp in Kentucky help create new associations and a better understanding of industrial hemp and how it can benefit our economy today. As a result, we hope to increase in the overall support and demand for Kentucky hemp and hemp products nationwide.
In 2016, we began partnering with historic sites, starting with Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate in Lexington, Farmington Historic Plantation and Locust Grove in Louisville. That year, we grew the first hemp crops at Ashland and Farmington since the mid-19th century. In April, we hosted Hemp Discovery Day at Farmington, followed by the first annual hemp dinner and coinciding symposium at Ashland. The following year, we partnered with the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation to install a hemp museum in Hopemont, the Hunt-Morgan House in Lexington, which was completed in the Summer of 2018.
Since 2016, we've launched the Heritage Hemp Trail and formed the Kentucky Hemp Heritage Alliance to preserve and promote the history of hemp in Kentucky. Our partners now include White Hall State Historic Site in Richmond and Waveland State Historic Site in Lexington where we also grow historic hemp educational plots, in addition to Pleasanton Goods/The Historic Alexander House in Paris, where our co-founder designed a hemp mural and where the Kentucky Historical Society will be installing a Bourbon County Hemp/Alexander House Historical Marker we helped get approved. Click here for more sites on the trail.
Creative Content and Media Collaborations
Kentucky Hempsters also collaborates with national platforms and organizations on content creation and marketing strategies to bring more awareness to industrial hemp. Combined, these projects and initiatives have reached an audience of over 1 million online users. Click here for our Leafly "hemp" series or view our "hemp builds" campaign with Vote Hemp.
Advocacy & Legalization Efforts
We're proud to have had the opportunity to advocate for the federal legalization of industrial hemp. In March 2018, we were invited to attend a private roundtable in Frankfort with Senator Mitch McConnell, followed by a press conference where he announced his intent to introduce the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. The bill would remove hemp from the list of controlled
substances, and legalize production nationwide. The following Summer, McConnell secured the Hemp Farming Act in the 2018 Farm Bill, which was passed into law on December 20th, 2018. After nearly half a century of hemp prohibition, hemp in now federally legal in the United States. Co-founder, Alyssa Erickson, was quoted in Senator McConnell's press release announcing the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill in the Senate.
"We appreciate Senator McConnell's unwavering support and leadership on behalf of hemp in Congress. By securing hemp legalization in the Farm Bill, Kentuckians can feel confident in the future of hemp and fully embrace its potential as an agricultural crop. This will open a vast amount of new opportunities for farmers, processors, retailers, and entrepreneurs like us here in Kentucky and nationwide."
Click here to read full press release from Sen. McConnell
Since the return of hemp to the Commonwealth under the pilot program in 2014, the Kentucky Hempsters platform has evolved into an online and grassroots community of hemp supporters, advocates, partners and leaders across the state and country, working together to promote hemp across the globe.
As Kentucky continues to remain on the forefront of hemp legalization, research, and commercialization, we are proud to offer a voice to the Kentucky hemp industry, and a portal for those looking to become educated, supportive, or actively involved. Thank you to all of those who have been a part of this journey so far, and welcome to those of you who are just getting started! We look forward to helping you connect with the past, present and future of Kentucky Hemp.
- Kentucky Hempsters Co-Founders, Alyssa Erickson and Kirstin Bohnert
Take a look at our journey over the past five years!
Slide show featuring Kentucky Hempsters photos from 2014-2019.
Hemp Returns to Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate - Summer 2016
Kentucky Hempsters harvest first historic hemp crop at Farmington Historic Plantation in Louisville on October 6th, 2018.
Kentucky Hempsters Year-in-Review Video from 2016
Kentucky Hempsters called "the face of hemp in Kentucky" by Congressman Comer during speech at Hemp Day in
Washington D.C. on March 6th, 2017.
Kentucky Hempsters Hemp Dinner Video from 2017
Kentucky Hempsters host "Victory for Hemp" celebration at
Rock House Brewing in Lexington on January 12th, 2019.