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Seeds: Neighbors “Thinking”

Seeds: Neighbors “Thinking”

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Hemp entrepreneur, Rebecca Ramage, one of the visionaries and co-founders of Lake County Growers, will be talking in this article about the issue of what your neighbors are thinking when you are embarking upon something cool.

Why do I share her story below? Yes, hemp is a cool, diverse crop. But it’s not because of hemp. It’s because Rebecca and her partners are trailblazers. I know many of you are sitting there reading this with a burning desire, a flame that will not be extinguished until you pursue it. We are all descendants of people who were survivors, people who did not give up in a multitude of ways, people who made sacrifices large and small – real people, like you. Some of those people were trailblazers and others were followers. Most important is whether they were, and are, positive contributors – making the world a better place.

Right now, many non-contributors are getting plenty of microphone time. That is fine, nothing new under the sun. But the contributors, as they always have, are doing something. They are dreaming. They are making plans. They are changing their minds and they are going for it. They are also messing up. They are also growing steel backbones because they are surrounded by people who do not believe in them. Guess what? They have someone powerful backing them – themselves!

They are losing the support of family members. They are losing lifelong friends. They are crying themselves to sleep some nights because they want to give up and be “comfortable” again. But they will not give up, because doing so would be giving up on themselves. So, here’s Rebecca. She could be you. Allow her words to inspire you. If you feel alone, know there are a host of other “Rebeccas” out there who were once like you, afire with a dream. Do not give up. Maybe it’s hemp, maybe a hoop house for vegetables, maybe you want to be a singer or writer or start a business. Maybe you simply just want to be yourself. Here is a permission slip to not care what anyone thinks and go for it!

“I guess I would just say don’t give a damn what your neighbors think,” Ramage, an Iowa farm girl said about how it felt to start growing hemp.

“I mean, if you’re going to be the talk of the town, you might as well be the talk of the town because you are different or unique,” she added matter-of-factly.

“Our field of hemp was visible from the highway. People would be watching us grow the hemp. My business partner’s husband Ben was out in the hemp field one day and a neighbor stopped by and gave them, ‘the look,’” she explained.

So, Ben explained that we were licensed with the state to grow hemp, “I guess that was the ‘permission’ the guy needed. Ben said it was like the movie Footloose. All this ‘dancing going on.’ The neighbor who stopped was giving off that vibe like, ‘What are you kids up to?’”

Here’s the deal, Ramage said about making awesome regenerative changes on the farm, “People are going to be checking out what you are doing. So do your research and be confident. We knew people were going to ask: Are you licensed? Are you doing testing?”

That is okay too, she said.

“People may be curious and worried you are doing something, ‘illegal.’ I think the hardest thing with growing hemp is because it’s such a new industry, there is not a lot of innovation. You have to be resourceful. It’s not like you are going to plant it with your GPS tractor,” Ramage said, noting they took more of a horticulture approach, “Kind of like what you do with vegetables. We used plastic mats (to control weeds), hand weeded (what the mats did not suppress) and walked the rows like when I was a kid and walked soybeans. We didn’t use any chemicals or pesticides of any kind. It has been very labor intensive. That was a big eye-opener for us. I grew up on a farm and am the only one (of the partners) who grew up that way. So, it was really an eye-opener for the others.”

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