My research into Maui’s hemp initiative and the upcoming Maui hemp history week starts with a trip to the Maui Brewing Company (MBC) brewery in Kihei. A small group of media has gathered to photograph Steve Rose of the Maui Hemp Institute, Sean McBride from Manitoba Harvest and Garrett Marrero of MBC as Maui’s first hemp seed beer is going in the giant steel vat. This is the third annual hemp week celebration on Maui, but this time there’s a lot to celebrate and the event has grown. A change in public opinion on hemp and recent hemp legislation is opening doors for this age-old crop. With sugar leaving Maui’s agriculture business, there’s a lot of speculation about what will be next, and there are some people who would like to see hemp as another viable crop.
“The dream is to create a real innovation and research facility on Maui,” says Rose, the Maui Hemp Institute president. “My dream is to build something the size of this brewery. We want to be able to have educational facilities, complete audio and visual center. We want to be able to create movies and materials here because there is nothing out there about hemp. Hemp has been banned for 70 years so there is no material out there. It was literally banned before the typewriter became popular. So there’s nothing even written or anything that you can go look at. We want to be that documentation facility.”
Section 7606 of the 2014 Federal Government’s Farm Bill signed into law by Obama legalized cultivation industrial hemp for universities and state departments of ag as long as the States certify and register the grow sites. Several states have started growing hemp. Legislation recently passed in Hawaii’s Senate that sets the foundation to legalize hemp grown for research, but the bill awaits Governor David Ige’s signature.
“So the law just got passed to have Hawaii comply with the federal farm act which is the requirement,” says Rose. “But until the governor signs it into law, nothing can happen. Once it gets signed, it will go to the Ag Department so they can set the rules to issue the permits. Once that is set up, the farmers can apply and get the research permits. So we’re looking at a few months of bureaucracy. I’m hoping that they could allow us to do a ceremonial planting during Hemp Week.”
In the meantime, Maui Hemp Institute has already named board member James Simpliciano, owner of Simpli-fresh Fresh Farms, as the first farmer to plant those seeds.
“One of our board members, James Simpliciano, his grandfather grew hemp on Oahu during the war, and so did his father,” says Rose. “As soon as James plants some hemp he will be the first third generation farmer to grow hemp. We will be doing an event on his farm on the final day of hemp history week. We are going to set up the hemp plot. I don’t think we will be able to seed the plot, unless the governor signs the bill. But we can plant a few ‘ceremonial’ seeds.”
At the brewery, Marrero says Senator Roz Baker, D–Kihei, brought up a possible issue with hemp crops and burning in the production process. McBride says that Manitoba Harvest does not burn the crops at all; in fact, the food hemp that they grow gets tilled back into the ground.
“Manitoba Harvest grows a food hemp that grows about six feet tall, they harvest the top three feet,” says McBride. “Bottom three feet is stalk. The stalk is really tough, in a dry year it actually can bend the combines. It has the tensile strength of steel. If it’s been a wetter season we can cut that three feet up and use the leftover stalk for things like pet bedding. There is a guy in Saskatchewan that uses that. If you want textile hemp, you have to start with a seed of a textile hemp seed. That is the 18-foot hemp you see in the old videos. That kind of hemp has a maturation cycle of about 60 days, kind of like bamboo. It’s in and it’s out because that short growing season protects the shaft and keeps is soft. The longer it’s in the ground, the harder that shaft becomes. Industrial hemp for food is about a hundred days for maturation. Still 80 days faster than corn, 90 days faster than soy. It’s a high-yield, low-impact agricultural product, good for breaking up the soil with its deep tap root. You can see a root twice as deep below as what you see above. Most times with our food hemp that bottom three feet gets tilled back into the soil. There is no burning.”
Yes, there are a many misconceptions about hemp. It’s a cannabis plant, but it’s not marijuana. During Hemp History Week, the Maui Hemp Institute plans to do a lot of education outreach on the plant and talk about their vision for commercial hemp.
“I have three models to hemp agriculture,” says Rose. “I want to create the publishing arm so we can create books and educate people. The research facility also needs to research the 20 or more microclimates on Maui. This is a place where we can research what seeds grow best in what climate. We have 35 states on the Mainland growing hemp but they have no seed. Manitoba grows seed but they use it as food. China has seed and so does Czechoslovakia but there is no seed in the US. In 2014, Colorado grew 30 acres of hemp. Last year there was 500 acres. Right now, there are 20,000 acres growing. All the seed gets put back in the ground. It’s not for sale to other farmers. We have 35 states now including Alabama that are looking for seeds. One of the first commercial businesses that the institute wants to have the infrastructure to support is basically, for lack of a better term, the Sargenta/Monsanto models for seed growing. We could do three to four seed crops here of hemp on Maui. Colorado has only one growing season. We have already been in touch with some of the states that want to come here to do their research in the winter. We see the growth of the research industry as one of the things that we are going to build here, besides the commercial industry.
“The research facility I envision, is that we get the research and then we innovate on it,” Rose continues. “Even though there is national involvement we are Mauicentric. And everything we do with hemp we want it to benefit Maui locally. Our food forest project is about creating sustainable food on Maui. What has been missing is the hemp component to that. Hemp is one of the main components. You need something to block the wind. It’s a key component to remediate soil. Hemp is a key part to the islands sustainable food system.”
Hemp History Week launches with a party Saturday, June 4 at the Maui Brewing Company Kihei brew pub. It includes the first public sampling of the beer created just for this event.
“We are calling the beer Maui Hemp ESB,” says Marrero. “We want it to be about the hemp. ESB is an actual beer style–Extra Special Bitter. But a funny thing happens when you call it an extra special bitter. People think, ‘ugh, bitter!’ But bitter is actually a good thing in beer. This is the kind of beer you would see in London. Don’t be afraid of bitterness in beer–this is just a different style than you are used to. ESB is a very drinkable beer, with biscuit caramel character to it. An easy drinking beer. We chose that because the hemp seed will bring a lot of nutty characteristics out in its flavor. If you have ever had a nut brown ale, it would be similar to that. It’s a little more mild. Maui Brewing Company wants to work with the hempsters to find a way to grow the crop. It’s a fantastic soil conditioner, viable food product and potentially could be a textile or made into hempcrete. We desperately need more manufacturing more agriculture. We import so much here, so anything we can produce here on the island the better.”
The Saturday hemp festival at the brewery will also feature keynote speaker Doug Fine, who recently wrote the book Hemp Bound.
“Doug has been to almost every major hemp planting, and harvests on the Mainland over the past three years and is the best known ‘hands-on’ hemp farmer and lecturer,” says Rose. “Doug is one of the most sought after speakers on the subject of hemp. He’s coming to Maui by personal choice, to support the efforts of the Maui Hemp Institute in its début. This at a great personal cost due to the lost speaker fees that he declined in order to be here and support our event. We are only paying his travel. He recently addressed the highly successful Colorado Hemp Conference with over 3,000 attendees and last week did the same at a hemp conference in Vermont. Last month he also addressed a special event at the U.N. We are lucky to have him here on Maui.”
You can also look forward to Hemp History Week featuring lots of island-wide sampling of hemp foods at Down to Earth, Foodland, Whole Foods, Mana Foods and Hawaiian Moons. Hemp innovation will be looked at from all sides during the week at education presentations by the Maui Hemp Institute.
The final event at Hemp History Week happens at the Simpli-Fresh farms, where participants can get dirty with Simpliciano and Fine while they learn about the Hemp-infused Food Forest project that will launch that day. The Sunday event will be a hands-on day at the farm and a hemp-inspired lunch.
“The event will be about learning and understanding about the process of farmers farming soil,” says Simpliciano. “Putting cover crop seeds such as hemp, sun hemp and other nitrogen fixing plants and trees. Hemp will revolutionize how we are putting carbon back called carbon sequestration to reverse climate change, and remediation of soil biology and organic life.”
Simpliciano says the lack of hemp seeds is not an issue for him. He’s looking forward to Fine’s appearance on the farm.
“With the help of our National growers and our guest farmer Doug Fine, I’m not too concerned about the seeds,” says Simpliciano. “Fine is currently consulting many farmers in Kentucky, Carolina, Colorado and soon here on Maui. The process of hemp seeds will not be available until next year when USDA are issued permits to our Maui Hemp Institution for research and development of a local seed production and inventory.”
McBride says the hemp industry in Canada creates no waste when it’s done right, and that’s what they’re hoping to help support and create here on Maui.
“The nickname for industrial hemp in Canada is the Green Buffalo,” says McBride. “It’s a zero-waste crop when done properly. So right now all the oil we produce, and we are the biggest hemp oil producer in North America. We can’t sell it all as a food product. But it can also be used industrially. So we sell it to the Ministry of Agriculture in Canada and they use it with their heavy equipment for farming. It can all be used. That’s the model we envision for Maui.”
Top 10 Hemp Projects for the MHI
Create plans for a state of the art, multi-million dollar educational, research, and innovation facility and research grounds for MHI as a non-profit 501(a) institution.
Find, fund and facilitate the setup of the interim home for MHI and the growing staff to operate from
Create, fund and implement a Maui Hemp Educational Program to educate the Hawaii population on hemp’s potential and future at schools, group and public events
Setup the “Hemp Infused Food Forest” with SimpliFresh Farms
Identify the microclimates and setup the hemp cultivar research project to identify the various places and proper hemp seeds for growing in each of these microclimates
Various Farmer pre-growing outreach projects with the Hawaii Farmers Union United, Maui Chapter
Set up various Hemp related workshops during 2016- Hemp Construction, Hemp Food and Nutrition, Hemp Value Added Products etc.
Identify Agricultural & Educational hemp research projects needed for hemp’s future growth on Maui. Apply for research and other funding to implement these projects
Identify Hemp innovation and infrastructure projects needed for hemp’s future growth on Maui.
Apply for research and other funding to implement more projects
Maui Hemp Institute Board of Directors and Members
Maui Hemp Institute Board of Directors
Board Chair Lynne Woods
Vice Chair Lori Mucci
Treasurer/Finance Chair Max Tsai
Secretary/Outreach Chair Elyse Ditzel
Education Chair Denise Key
Media Chair Bryan Berkowitz
Agricultural Chair Gary Ditzel
Technical Chair Erik McFrazier
Agricultural Co-Chair James Simpliciano
Maui Hemp Institute Board of Directors Pro-Tem
Outreach Chair Doug Fine
Science Chair Steven Shorr
Marketing Co-Chair Sean McBride
Maui Hemp Institute Staff
President /CEH Steve Rose
Accounting Brandy Pagan
Maui Hemp Institute Hempsters in Residence
Production Jordan Longman
Artistic Director Wilson Angel
Intern Billy Pacheco
Researcher Alan Sakamura
Outreach Associate Andrea von Botfuhr
Hemp Week Schedule of Events
This is the island-wide educational events week. A continuous set of hemp presentations are displayed for education and awareness at various locations: Maui Brewing Company, Whole Foods, Mana Foods, Down to Earth, Hawaiian Moons, select Foodland stores and others.
Hemp product samplings, demos and other hempstastic happenings, food and beer specials at participating restaurants and hotels will be found throughout the islands. Maui Brewing Company is debuting their “Hemp Brown Ale” on tap to be featured at the Brewery and restaurant taps Island wide.
Saturday, June 4
“HempFest Maui 2016” sponsored by Maui Brewing Co.
Maui Brewing Co. – Kihei
The official launch day of Maui Hemp History Week. Toasting of Maui Brewing Company’s “Hemp ESB” beer. Opening Keynote with Doug Fine ”Hemp Breaks Out… from Soil to Nano”
Hemp themed movie night with feature presentation Bringing it Home
Vendors and booths, education, community relations, live music in Brewery tasting room
Sunday, June 5
MHI’s Hemp History Week “Hemplicious Fundraiser Dinner”
Sugar Beach Events – Kihei
A gala social event for like-minded forward thinkers and a special hemp house tour with live music.
3pm: Multi-media hemp house site tour next door and No host bar
5pm: Welcome reception
5:30pm: “Hemplicious” dinner and MHI presenting the National and Local “Maui Hempster of the Year Awards”
Plus presentation from MHI on Maui’s hemp future with Steve Rose
Hemplicious Dinner Menu
Hemp Ulu Hummus, Vegetable Crudité
Hemplicious Dusted Vegan “Chicken” Satay, Spicy Peanut Sauce
Tofu and Happy Hempy Waffles, Sriracha Aioli, Organic Maple Syrup
Pear and Roasted Beet Salad, Hydroponic Greens, Ginger Hemplicious Dressing
Hemp Crusted Fresh Catch, Hemp Pesto
Hemp Heart Vegetable Croquette, Pink Salt, Dried Cranberries, Quinoa
Hemp Crusted Pono Pie , Brownie Dust
Maui Grown Coffee/Hemp Blend
Hemp ESB by Maui Brewing Company (cash bar)
Hemp Kombucha & other beverages by Big Wave Beverage
Monday – Saturday June 6–10
Island wide educational and sampling presentations at Whole Foods, Mana Foods, Down to Earth, Hawaiian Moons, select Foodland stores and others with demos, samplings and educational materials.
Sunday June 12
“FarmFest 2016” co-production with the Hawaii Farmers Union United (HFUU) Maui Chapter
SimpliFresh Farm, Lahaina
8am-noon: “A hands-on day at the Farm” with owner James Simpliciano and Doug Fine. Visit the under construction “Hemp Infused Food Forest” project, learn about future hemp farming on Maui, hemp-inspired lunch included
$40 / $25 for MHI sponsors & HFUU members
For more information go to the Maui Hemp Institute facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MauiHemp, or call the Maui Hemp Institute at 808-463-4042