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US (VT): "Our first challenge? Convincing farmers to grow hemp"

Over the past year, a pair of cousins bought two vacant industrial properties in two Vermont towns that have seen better economic days — a former grain mill in St. Johnsbury and a former marble factory in Proctor. The pair believe they have the right business to bring new life to the two properties: Processing industrial hemp.

But Vermont’s hemp industry has stumbled since the heady days of 2019 when it was first legalized. More than a thousand Vermonters grew hemp that first year. Last year, it was down to just 99. To be successful, the cousins and their company Zion Growers, will need that trend to reverse.

Taken together, Zion Growers now owns over 130,000 square feet of industrial space. Some of the space could be leased out to other companies or used as makerspaces, the cousins said. But most of it they plan to use to process industrial hemp.

“I am more afraid that I have too many customers and not enough farmers,” Travis Samuels said, standing near rows of large bags full of industrial hemp seed in the Ide building, which he’s been trying to give away to Vermont farmers, with little success so far. Growers, he said, are still feeling burned by the CBD bust.

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