Updated: Jan 18, 2019
As hemp began making its way back into the mainstream, thanks to advocates and public figures like Gatewood Galbraith and Jack Herer, farmers organized to advocate for the end of prohibition. In October 1994, a group called the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association (KHGCA) was designated to help assist state farmers in re-establishing the Kentucky hemp industry.
The Graves Family
The Graves family has farming roots in the bluegrass region of Kentucky dating back to 1810. From the start, hemp was a mainstay crop, as it was with most Kentucky farms. During World War II, the Graves family participated in the "Hemp for Victory" campaign and grew hemp for the government.
“In 1941,” said Jake Graves, “with the rumblings of war crossing the oceans, my father moved to corner the market in hemp seed. He went up and down the river buying up the seed from farmers.” Historically, war has always brought a boom to the hemp market. With the possibility of fiber markets in the Philippines being cutoff by the Japanese, Grave’s father saw the need for domestic hemp. Unfortunately the Army, under the War Powers Act, took possession of Graves’ hemp seed, along with one of his farms and a tobacco warehouse.
It was that year that Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association was established to help redistribute the seed and offer guidance and support to farmers. Also that year, the Graves planted a hemp fiber crop at their farm just outside Lexington in Winchester for the war effort.
Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association
The KHGCA was first organized during World War II, but disbanded after hemp production ceased post-war. In 1994, former Kentucky hemp farmer and now well-known Lexington business man, Jake Graves, and his son, Andy Graves, revived the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association.
Now, the organization would assist Kentucky farmers in re-establishing industrial hemp as a viable agricultural commodity and potentially serve as a clearinghouse through which farmers may negotiate and contract with different industries.
The Kentucky Hemp Museum & Library
Within the same day of its incorporation, the KHGCA founded the Kentucky Hemp Museum & Library. The non-profit aimed to educate the public about the cultural, historic and economic importance of the hemp industry in Kentucky and the United States.
The museum acquired a collection of historical memorabilia, including several turn of the century hemp processing machines, a field decorticator, and a limited edition print of a painting by Kentucky artist Paul Sawyer depicting a hemp field scene. It displayed (wherever possible) implements, tools and machines that were used in the production, harvesting and industrial processing of hemp.
The museum also played a small role in the establishment and operation of the Kentucky Hemp and Related Fibers Task Force appointed by Kentucky Governor Brereton Jones.
Jake, along with his son Andy and KHGCA leaders, began holding numerous county meetings around the state, often in conjunction with the Kentucky Farm Bureau, making presentations to civic groups (Rotary Club and the Lions Club) local grade schools.
They developed and disseminated informational materials about the historic and resurgent hemp industry, while raising funds for research development in the state. Board members presented at rotary club meetings, schools and more.
Note: The Kentucky Hemp Museum and Library not longer exists. Most of the pieces from the hemp museum were donate to the University of Kentucky Library.
Gifford, H. (n.d.). Kentucky Hemp Museum Celebrates Crop’s Past. Retrieved December 3, 2015, from http://www.internationalhempassociation.org/jiha/jiha6218.html