Anavii Market is proud to announce the winners of our biannual scholarship program! We had so many great applicants we simply had to add second and third place awards to our program. And the winners are:
First Prize, Elvira Nnodim
Second Prize, Nicolas Zampaglione
Third Prize, Ellie Fensterle
If your essay submission was not a winner, you are welcome to apply to our scholarship for the next deadline (May 15, 2021). The same prompt applies to the Spring Term submissions: How can hemp farming affect climate change?
To honor Elvira's great work, we wanted to share her entry with you. Her essay is below:
Many people know of cotton, cocoa, rice, and wheat as cash crops but not industrial hemp. Like marijuana, hemp belongs to the cannabis Sativa family and it has taken many years to legalize the crop. Lawmakers in America have oftentimes treated hemp and marijuana the same even though hemp contains just a fraction of a percent of the psychoactive chemical in marijuana called THC (Nittle, 2019). Compared to marijuana, industrial hemp is skinnier and taller, with slender leaves concentrated at the top. Industrial hemp contains lots of CBD (cannabidiol) and the fiber from the crop is used for everything from clothing to car parts. With the 2018 federal farm bill reversing the decades-old hemp ban, there will be a rise in young hemp farmers (Nittle, 2019). While the crop is harder to grow than most people think, its benefits cannot be understated. The market for hemp-derived CBD that’s used to treat insomnia, anxiety, and chronic pain is predicted to be $23.7 billion by 2023 which is up from $5 billion this year (Nittle, 2019). Hemp farming affects climate change by nourishing the soil, absorbing large amounts of CO2, and preventing erosion.
Thanks to the USDA and other research organizations, many environmental benefits of hemp have been discovered. According to Aaron Schoeneman, the founder and director of the Iowa Hemp Association, industrial hemp has a unique ability to remove excess materials and even deadly heavy metals from the soil, as evidenced by its role in the cleanup of the nuclear wasteland surrounding Chernobyl (2015). When grown, hemp can return nutrients to the soil rather than just consuming the little nitrogen available in the ground. When field-retting hemp for fiber, nutrients are returned to the soil, creating equilibrium and balance (O’Connell, 2017). When grown for seed, hemp’s leaves naturally fell to the soil as the plant matures, further returning nitrogen to the soil (O’Connell, 2017). This symbiotic relationship with the land implies that hemp can nourish the earth’s soil back to health while maintaining a strong economic outlook for the farmers growing it. Instead of spending millions of dollars researching quick fixes to the environmental degradation caused by modernized agricultural practices, hemp should be used to clean pollutants and restore America’s soil to the rich lifeblood it once was.
Furthermore, one hectare of industrial hemp can absorb 22 tons of CO2 per hectare. It’s rapid growth (grows to 14 feet in 100 days) makes it one of the fastest CO2-to-biomass conversion tools available (Vosper, n.d.). Amazingly, the crop can be grown on a wide scale on nutrient-poor soils with little water and no fertilizers. Not only can hemp products promote biodiversity but it can also reverse environmental pollution by replacing petrochemical-based plastics, which are being dumped into the ocean at astronomical rates (Brown, 2019). As many as one million seabirds die each year from ingesting plastic, and up to 90 percent of them have plastics in their stomachs (Brown, 2019). To avoid all this, we can switch to using plastic made from hemp which is biodegradable and non-toxic.
In addition, it’s important to farm hemp because it forms deep roots which helps to hold the soil together. Soil erosion is prevented and the microbial content of the soil is increased. About half of America’s wetland habitats have been lost over the past 200 years (Shareen, 2019). These wetlands are extremely valuable for the states in America’s economy and way of life because it impacts their agricultural and recreational interests. Solutions to stop rapid wetland and coastal loss such as hydrologic restoration and sediment diversion, and marsh restoration have all helped to slow down the process but have the potential to alter natural coastal processes (Shareen, 2019). Industrial hemp farming can be a form of biodegradable erosion control (BEC) that can help America’s deteriorating coasts. BEC refers to methods that help prevent coastal erosion through the use of biodegradable materials. BEC methods are more environmentally friendly because they provide an all-natural way of vegetation development that’s more suitable for plant growth.
To conclude, industrial hemp is one of the most eco-friendly crops on the planet. There’s something in the plant for everyone, whether it’s fiber, building materials, clothing, and biodegradable materials. While hemp farming has become a commodity, it’s not just about the money. It’s about reducing climate change by nourishing the soil, absorbing large amounts of CO2, and preventing erosion. I’m happy to know there’ll be more hemp farmers in the future because combating climate change is synonymous with protecting the future of farming. Hemp farming can help with that battle.
Click Here for more information on our scholarship program or to submit your entry.