Ithaca, NY, is building a hempire, one plant at a time. With miles of sprawling farmland, a vibrant downtown and an open mindset, Ithaca is uniquely poised to take the potentially multi-billion dollar hemp industry by the reins.
Cornell University alone boasts a state-of-the-art hemp research team, the United States’ only industrial hemp seed bank and the country’s first master of professional studies (MPS) program with a specialization in hemp science. The fruits of these labors can be seen across the region as the university works with local growers to establish best growing practices and teaches a new generation of farmers.
Still, the path to now has been a rocky one, and with the pandemic adding new pressure, the industry is rapidly changing to keep up with the times. The result is a high risk, high reward field marred with uncertainty and ripe with potential. In Ithaca, there have been successes and there have been failures, but ultimately hemp is here to stay.
“You have a lot of farmers here that were looking at hemp as a savior crop to help boost their overall farm profits, because they were getting beat up from their traditional type of agricultural commodities that they were growing,“ Jeff Luciano, CEO and founder of High End Multigroup, a hemp processing and investment company, said. ''They were expecting one sort of price point for their product but got something entirely different, so many farmers were unable to sell their crop or recoup what they had put into the cost.”
Read more at ithaca.com