Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Letters to the Editor

Consider this…

Dear Editor,
In the new future, here is an agricultural industry which might work well for the Pontiac: hemp. Not the smokable THC-laden pot - that market was covered years ago - this is the rest of the plant, which can be used in so many ways, newspapers wouldn’t have space to print the list. I’m talking about the tall, gangly seedy varieties that yield CBD, fibrous stalks, leaves which are useful for animal fodder, seeds which are rich in nutritional value and oil, and mainly the stalks which can be used as an alternative to cotton, fibreglass, sisal, flax, and wood pulp. One can make toilet paper, a recognized valuable commodity in these times, but also other sorts of paper products.
The Wrights, early industrial developers of the Ottawa Valley, were hemp farmers first. The British naval ships of olden days were as much hemp as wood, by weight. The sails, the ropes, the oakum between the planks and the sailors’ clothes were all made of hemp. The racehorse magnates of the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky, made their fortunes in hemp farming, which allowed them the luxury of breeding and raising thoroughbred horses.
The plant can be grown here, as was tested several years back, when it was so controversial that high security around the secret field was deemed necessary. The problem was not to grow it, but to harvest it, because the machinery that was used in the past had been left to disintegrate during the decades when industrial hemp, along with its medicinal and recreational sister strains, were feared by lawmakers and the cotton and petroleum lobbies which funded the fear-born politics. Modern corn cutters were not designed to handle the sticky long strong fibrous stalks, and so they would bind up and stop in their tracks. The solution, in the golden age of hemp growing, was slavery and cutting and bundling by hand. I’m not advocating a return to slavery, but I think some of the clever machinists in this region can develop tools that will deal with the harvesting and processing. The processing could be a local and not too highly-technical. We’d have a local industry, growing and processing a widely-usable range of products from a renewable resource, right here in the region. That’s something worth considering, as part of the new future.

Robert Wills, Shawville and Thorne


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