Podcast

Growing Hemp With Doug Fine, Solar-Powered Goat Herder & American Farmer

Growing Hemp With Doug Fine, Solar-Powered Goat Herder & American Farmer
Ministry of Hemp Podcast

 
 
00:00 / 00:36:00
 
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At the Ministry of Hemp, we love not just hemp and cannabis but also regenerative agriculture and everything that can protect the earth where hemp grows. That’s why we can’t imagine a better guest for this week’s podcast episode than Doug Fine.

In this episode, our host Matt talks with Doug, an NPR correspondent and activist author, about his upcoming book, “American Hemp Farmer: Adventures & Misadventures in the Cannabis Trade.” Doug tells us about growing hemp in New Mexico and also explains why a good sense of humor is important when trying to save the world.

We got our hands on a digital pre-release copy of “American Hemp Farmer” and just fell in love with it. The book is due out April 23 but can be pre-ordered today. We hope you do!

If you’d like to learn more about regenerative agriculture, check out our interview with John Roulac from a previous podcast episode.

Send us your feedback

We want to hear from you too. Send us your questions and you might hear them answered on future shows like this one! Send us your written questions to us on Twitter, Facebook, email [email protected], or call us and leave a message at 402-819-6417. Keep in mind, this phone number is for hemp questions only and any other inquiries for the Ministry of Hemp should be sent to [email protected]

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Photo: Composite photo shows, on the left, Doug Fine, holding a goat in his arms, and on the right, the cover of his book: American Hemp Farmer, Adventures & Misadventures in the Cannabis Trade.
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Doug Fine visited the Ministry of Hemp Podcast to talk about raising goats, growing hemp, and his new book. (Photo: Amanda Gorski)

Growing Hemp with Doug Fine: Complete episode transcript

Matt Baum:
I’m Matt Baum and this is the Ministry of Hemp podcast, brought to you by ministryofhemp.com. America’s leading advocate for hemp and hemp education.

Matt Baum:
It’s the Ministry of Hemp podcast. My name is Matt and I’m your host. Today on the show I’m going to be talking to Doug Fine. He’s an author of the book, American Hemp Farmer, and I can’t wait for you guys to read this. But before any of that, I want to send a huge thanks to everybody that has checked out our Patreon page. You can find it at patreon.com/ministryofhemp. Of course, there’ll be a link to that in our show notes. And huge thank you to everybody that has decided to help support us in spreading hemp education and taking a stand for legal hemp in the United States. Seriously, thank you so much. It is so cool to have this kind of support.

Matt Baum:
Be sure to get over there and check out all the extras we have. We’ve got a newsletter that’ll keep you in touch with everything we’re doing in the Ministry of Hemp. I do podcast extras over there. We just threw up an article on Ministry of Hemp’s Time at South by Southwest. All kinds of cool stuff with several different levels. Please check it out and if you already have, again, thank you so much.

Matt Baum:
Doug Fine is a self-described solar powered goat herder, comedic investigative journalist, bestselling author, and pioneer voice in regenerative farming including cannabis and hemp. He has cultivated hemp for food and seed building in four U.S. states and teaches a Sterling College hemp class in Vermont. In addition, he’s an award winning culture and climate correspondent from five continents: NPR, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, among others. His books include American Hemp Farmer, Hemp Bound, Too High to Fail, Farewell, My Subaru, which was a Boston Globe bestseller, Not Really an Alaskan Mountain Man and First Legal Harvest, a monograph that was printed on hemp paper.

Matt Baum:
Willie Nelson calls Doug’s work, “A blueprint for the America of the future.” The Washington Post says, “Fine is a storyteller in the mold of Douglas Adams.”

Matt Baum:
When I interviewed Doug for this show, I had read about half of his new book, American Hemp Farmer. And since I finished it. It is wonderful. Like I said, I can’t wait for you guys to read it.

Meet Doug Fine

Matt Baum:
Here’s my conversation with author, solar powered goat herder, and comedic investigative journalist, Doug Fine.

Matt Baum:
So Doug, you’ve got a new book coming out and this is your second book on hemp.

Doug Fine:
Yes. Well, it depends on how you count it. I’ll tell you this. It was, first, I wrote a book on psychoactive cannabis, regenerative psychoactive cannabis called Too High to Fail. And then wrote Hemp Bound. And then in between Hemp Bound and this new one, American Hemp Farmer, I put out a hemp printed monograph called First Legal Harvest, collaborated with the good folks at Colorado Hemp Company on that one. So you could argue this is my fourth.

Matt Baum:
Okay, fair enough. No, I’ll count it. That’s awesome by the way. So tell me how this got started, this journey. You’ve been a reporter for a long time and you’ve been an author sort of writing these long form reports on what you’re doing. How did you get started in this?

Doug Fine:
I’m an extreme left brain person. So I’m a real sort of verbal communicator. That’s where my skill set is. And it’s also, I do enjoy it, especially, when there’s humor involved in any kind of presentation. Whether it’s written or performance or anything, I love doing it. I feel very lucky that that’s who I am and what I’ve always been. The journey, though, to be covering cannabis hemp plant, I could talk to you about the origins and there are some cool origins to it. But what’s been sticking, Matt, with my mind lately is where we are now. And what I’ve learned about my own relationship with plants and all of our relationships with plants, there are people, of course, farmers, people who were born into farming, who understand their relationship with plants and how it’s as complicated and as interesting, at least, as relationships with animals and all that kind of thing.

Matt Baum:
Sure, sure.

Doug Fine:
But totemically, I’ve always been more of an animal guy, really good with animals. It’s through journalism that I’ve learned about the cannabis plant and expanded my sort of, I guess, love and appreciation for plant’s intelligence.

Matt Baum:
Okay. So you were never a farmer. You never came from a farm background, right?

Doug Fine:
I came from the opposite. I came from… The way I kind of sum it up is the New York suburbs when Madonna was like a virgin.

Matt Baum:
Okay. That’s good. That’s really good. And you decided, “Oh, I’ve had all these outdoor adventures. I fell in love with goat herding. Why not grow hemp.” And just threw yourself into it.

Doug Fine:
Yeah. I lived in Alaska for a number of years and I subsistence fish there. I really learned about being a member of the animal kingdom in an ecosystem and loved it and wrote a book called Not Really an Alaskan Mountain Man. And then wanting to see about being self-sufficient, energy wise, I moved to New Mexico where you can kind of point the solar panel down towards the ground, still get enough power for your day. And lived and continue to live that lifestyle. Wrote a book about that called Farewell My Subaru. And then was interested in the end of cannabis prohibition and the revival of hemp. But what was the catalyst to make it my next sort of mission was my next door neighbor in New Mexico. When I say that, I mean, very far away out at shouting distance when we were both in our home.

Doug Fine:
He’s a retired guy from Kodak. Minding his own business and self-medicating with cannabis for PTSD for military service. Not only gets raided but for a few plants and to which for amount that today is totally legal.

Matt Baum:
Right. Thank God they took him out though. We can’t have anything like that going on. How dangerous. I mean, a guy with a few plants taking care of himself. Good Lord.

Doug Fine:
Oh man. And putting all of us in danger actually. It was crazy. I don’t know if you’ve been around full-bore raids, but it was like living in apocalypse now. There was planes, helicopters, uniforms of every description. I had to wade through some machine guns to get past his ranch to my ranch and it was not okay.

Matt Baum:
If you’re going to put a raid on you may as well put on a show too, right? I mean, come on. Good Lord. So from there-

Doug Fine:
That’s what made me decide I was going to write about the end of the drug war. So I’ve been kind of off and on on that topic for the last 10 or so years. That’s what I’m doing. I’m putting my comedic investigated energy into cannabis. This time where I’m at, it’s about hemp industry has started. It’s for real.

Growing hemp in America

Doug Fine:
I’ve been part of it because I just don’t… I’m sick of pundits who talk about stuff and don’t actually do it themselves. So I’m going to try myself. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I’m five years into my own hemp planting, two or three years to my own product. And this new book is really about suggesting what mode…No, I’m sorry, just my own modes, but all the people I’ve met for being a successful entrepreneur as a farmer entrepreneur. In other words, regeneratively producing hemp in such a way that you’re doing good for your community, your family, your bottom line, but also for humanity’s climate change mitigation efforts.

Matt Baum:
Okay. One of the things that I loved from whatever… And I haven’t read the whole book, I read about half of it and I love the way you write. I love the humor you inject in it because otherwise this could be really dry and just come off as, “Oh great. Another hippie has decided he’s going to tell me a good way to do this stuff.” But I love that you made the choice not only am I going to discuss, basically, a 20 acre farm, I’m going to try to make a living on it too. What was that decision like? How did you… I mean, I would guess you’re a single, but you write about your wife and kids and stuff. How do you turn to the family and say, “Okay, not only am I going to write this book, I am going to write a book about how we try to live on this.” How did that decision play out in the family?

Doug Fine:
Definitely having a supportive family is vital and central and entire. If you’re going to be any kind of farmer or just any kind of entrepreneur, let alone both, everybody has to be on board. So for that, I’m extremely thankful. Very, very thankful.

Doug Fine:
In truth though, while I am on what I like to think of as a five year game plan for the product that I put out, I am lucky compared to many of the other people who are covered in the book in that my income is not dependent upon immediately selling large numbers of that product.

Matt Baum:
Right. It’s not that you didn’t start from zero and go, “Okay. Yeah, this is it. I’m not taking any money from book sales or anything.” No. I mean, I get that, which is good. I mean, you’ve got to live. I understand that.

Doug Fine:
But I am trying to be successful. I’ve got some great new partners for the product that I do… So I am trying to walk the walk. I appreciate the question, but in truth when we’re… So we’re dealing with some real code red issues in hemp. But I bet you’ve talked about here on Ministry of Hemp before in terms of the necessity of getting the THC level, at least, up to one to start. And changes that have to happen in the recent to the late last year’s draft regulations, USDA regulations.

Doug Fine:
So we have some code red stuff going on. For people who are depending on who have put all their nest egg and their livelihood and an investment into their hemp enterprise, these decisions getting fixed for farmer… This is not a joke for them. It’s not a joke for me either, but it’s just not as mission critical. I guess I can take a more relaxed approach to it than some people can.

Matt Baum:
But it is terrifying. It’s absolutely terrifying. If you’re a farmer, you decide you’re going to grow this stuff and you’re going to do the research like you did. You had partners in Oregon, right, that you were working with to get your hemp plants?

Doug Fine:
Oregon and Vermont, both.

Growing hemp and making mistakess

Matt Baum:
Okay. What was that like when you decided, “All right, I know I need to go find a plant that is below 0.03% THC.” So you don’t get rated like your old neighbor. Or just told to destroy your field. I mean, are you initially calling your shot, taking your best guess at who to work with and planting in and just hoping for the best? Was there terror there?

Doug Fine:
I don’t think there was terror, but that is a really good question. Because, I think, and the book points this out, really, I think, the hardest part for me, what I’ve found and now three, four, five years at this is choosing the right partners. Many of us, probably most of us, learn the hard way. There’s a section in the book what says, “Plan for plan B.” You are not going to make all your right decisions right at the beginning.

Doug Fine:
So the partners, the folks that I work with now, my colleagues in Oregon and my colleagues in Vermont, are both people that are in it for the long-term like I am that have similar dispositions. Because we all kind of… If you ask someone like, “Okay, if you were going to pair up entrepreneurially with someone, what would you want in a farmer type enterprise?” You say, “Well, similar values on organics, farming skills, honesty.” Those are all important skills but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to be a good business match. So I would urge people to really, really look carefully before they leap in with someone on the entrepreneurial side.

Matt Baum:
Did they think you were insane when you came to them and you were like, “Look, I’m not a farmer. I’m a journalist. I have this idea for a book and I want to do this.” Did they think you were crazy or were they like, “Great, let’s do it.”

Doug Fine:
Well, the partners that I have now are more experienced than I. My partner in Oregon, has written about a lot in the book, Edgar Winters, he started cultivating up in 1957. He might be the longest cultivating American hemp farmer at this point. He’s got a really fantastic backstory and an organic mindset. He’s been an absolutely a great mentor. He didn’t think I was crazy at all.

Doug Fine:
One of the sentiments that we all share, all the people that I really work with, I mean, there’s so many people that I have mutually support. We support one another and want each other to succeed. But in terms of people that I’m really partnered with, we share something, which is all along, we’ve not been interested in just following the CBD gold rush that we love cannabinoids. Who wouldn’t love cannabinoids? They are great.

Doug Fine:
It’s really about food and next generation industrial components. Hemp is a superfood from the seed as we’ve known. This stuff is less of an immediate gold rush and more of a long-term play and that’s something that we all had in common going in.

From raising goats to growing hemp

Matt Baum:
Let me ask you. When we first started talking, I don’t think I haven’t recorded it, you mentioned about how you started with animals and the connection that you felt to animals. And from there you felt this connection to this plant. Tell me about that a little bit. How did that develop? How did it go from your goats to hemp?

Doug Fine:
I think we all have sort of totemic energy, synchronicities with that sound too woo.

Matt Baum:
No, I love it. I love it. I am smiling. When you started there I was like, “Here we go.”

Doug Fine:
And to admit it, we could say this, I could say, “I think I’m decent at goat ranching.” I think I’ve taken to it that the goats like me. They know I love them. They know I’m not rushing. I’m not resenting my whatever it is, 20 minutes, twice a day spent milking and the other care you have to give. I enjoy it. I enjoy it the way you talked about it earlier before we went on the air for about your hobbies.

Matt Baum:
Yeah.

Doug Fine:
But with plants, it wasn’t that I didn’t respect plants. It’s just that my connections tended to be more with animals and it’s through now many years of journalism about the hemp plant and then finally leaping in to planting it that I’ve come to recognize and feel comfortable speaking about plant intelligence. It continues. I was just talking to my Vermont partners the other day. The reality of the situation right now is that some of our seed in Vermont, which is organically certified, something I’m really proud of because when you have a plant that five years ago was some kind of ridiculous felony. And now you’ve got federally certified unifiers coming and it’s a good feeling saying USDA organic on your crop.

Doug Fine:
Well, my colleagues, great colleagues, in Vermont that I work with also written about in the book, some of our harvest from last year we think we want to now use for experimenting with food product as opposed to selling it for its genetics because it’s good genetics. And or using it immediately in our other products. But just use a portion of it to see about it as a straight up food product. Just do our own research on that. And that is 100% the plant telling us what it wants to do. Just the logistics of where our seeds are, where our seed cleaners are, what our winters were shaping up before next year, the plant was done just like your goats or your fish will tell you what they want. The plant was telling us what we want, and I’ve started to really accept plant intelligence.

Doug Fine:
Some people out there who can say, “Oh, that’s a heartwarming story.” Or “Oh, I’m going have my eyes open for plants to talk.” But most people who are listening to this who are already hemp farmers are going, “Duh.” Because they probably already had recognized that their totemic connection was to various plants. For me, it’s new and it’s beautiful to learn something when you’re several decades in the life, you know?

Matt Baum:
Sure, sure.

Support the Ministry of Hemp on Patreon

Matt Baum:
We’ll be right back to my interview with Doug. But first, a short word from Ministry of Hemp, Editor-in-Chief, Kit O’Connell about our Patreon page. I know. I can’t stop talking about it.

Kit O’Connell:
Hi, this is Kit O’Connell. I’m the editor-in-chief at Ministry of Hemp. I hope you’re enjoying the Ministry of Hemp podcast and the articles we’ve been publishing recently. But today I want to talk to you about the newest way that you can support what we do.

Kit O’Connell:
So we’re launching a Patreon at patreon.com/ministryofhemp. And this Patreon will help our readers and fans contribute to what we do. With your help, we’ll be able to make our podcast and produce even more great articles about science and information about hemp and CBD.

Kit O’Connell:
We’ll publish more recipes and more guides. We’ll be able to work with more journalists, chefs, and authors of all kinds. Not only that, but by joining our Patreon, you’ll become a hemp insider. We’re launching a special newsletter just for our patrons. Each month we’ll work with experts and advocates and other industry professionals to give you an inside look at hemp and offer you ways to help the return of our favorite plant nationwide.

Kit O’Connell:
To get access to this new newsletter, you can donate any amount on our Patreon, even as low as $3 a month. For a few dollars more, we’ll send you some Ministry of Hemp stickers and even samples of our favorite CBD products. If you joined before February 15th at $25 or more, we’ll give you a Ministry of Hemp t-shirt as well.

Kit O’Connell:
So if you love hemp and the work that we’re doing at the Ministry of Hemp, I hope you’ll support us. You can join at patreon.com/ministryofhemp. That’s P-A-T-R-E-O-N.com/ministry ofhemp, which is all one word. Thanks.

Doug Fine on hemp seed oil and hemp foods

Matt Baum:
What kind of food products are you guys thinking about doing with yours?

Doug Fine:
So the product that I already doing… Please don’t folks, don’t take this as a commercial. Shop locally, 12 batch and… The product that I already do is called Hemp and Hemp. It already has hemp seed oil. It’s department stable product with hemp flower and hemp seed oil. That’s it. That’s the only ingredient. That’s why it’s called, Hemp and Hemp. It’s potentially be a superfood, but because I’m really walking very carefully to becoming officially a food product with all FDA now leaping in hemp. Thus far, I’ve always marketed it as a massage oil and a bath oil because it’s got an entourage effect of cannabinoids that I think almost has a chemical relationship with the lipids from its own plant. The seed from its own flower.

Doug Fine:
It relaxes me. I’ve been told that this is the one you have to be careful about claims. It’s about the entourage effect of the cannabinoids, right? I should say very low levels, all of them, not what today people we consider maximum milligram dose of any of the cannabinoids. And yet I like it. It works. I enjoy the product. So that product is already dialed into be officially a food product. That’s going to be a superfood that’s also a cannabinoid.

Doug Fine:
But what we’re talking about doing now is taste profilings on pressing the seed for just straight up seed oil. Just straight up as a nutritive seed. Things like hemp hearts. We were even talking about doing chocolate. Cacao covered whole seeds and then the one of the element that’s really exciting on the horizon is that hemp protein powder. That’s the byproduct when you press the seed oil. It’s a great human food, but it’s going to be a great animal feed. And there’s a lot of people, as I’m sure you know, you’ve probably had them on your Ministry of Hemp. There are a lot of people working to make sure that animal feed is… That hemp is approved as an animal feed. We’re getting that.

Matt Baum:
I know they’re definitely pushing for it right now and a lot of people want that. Had your goats eat hemp? Or you feed them hemp?

Doug Fine:
They love it. They love it. Yes, absolutely.

A sustainable future for hemp in all forms

Matt Baum:
That’s awesome. That’s so cool. So tell me when you were getting started. I liked how, in the book, you wrote about how Michael Pollan, who’s an author that I adore, talked about how this plant has been around for millennia. We’ve been growing this and it has been giving us things. Whether it’s, like you said, cannabinoids or sandals or the rope or whatever. What was it that drew you to that idea of it? Because you went… A lot of people get to the CBD bubble, like you said, and go for the gold there and just stop. But you’re talking about growing hemp for food for industrial. That’s really the hard part. What’s the attraction there? Is it just because that’s what the plant is telling you that it wants?

Doug Fine:
Matt, I feel righteous when I feel like my career is part of an effort to save humanity and give a good life to my kids. So that’s a big part of it is feeling good about going to work each day. When we have an industrial pipeline where the stuff, our stuff, all of our stuff are rocket door panels. Our car door panels, is made from biomaterials, not just hemp fiber, but all kinds of renewable biomass or regenerative biomass. And we’re not burning as much dinosaur juice. That’s a good sign.

Doug Fine:
And then superfood. I mean, it really, it truly is a superfood and has long been recognized as… Because humans have bred it for it to be a superfood with great proteins, and amino acids, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Doug Fine:
I remember when I was researching my earlier book about Hemp Bound, that I was ostensibly on an interview about hempcrete. One of the graduate students at the Manitoba College where I was looking at a hempcrete project, said that where he grew up in Iran, that they didn’t have Doritos and pretzels for soccer practice snacks that everybody just went to this vendor on the street who roasted hemp seeds and the word [shadi naan 00:00:22:41] in Persian, hemp seed.

Matt Baum:
That is so cool. I didn’t even know that was going on. That’s like…

Doug Fine:
Yeah, I mean it’s prohibition that’s been the aberration. It’s amazing how much can be remembered and forgotten in 77 years.

Matt Baum:
Absolutely. One of the things that I think is amazing about hemp as a crop in the United States right now is the fact that prohibition was bad and it set us way back. But it also allowed us to have a very true version of this plant that hasn’t been modified a whole lot. We’re returning to it almost. Can I ask you, what was your first harvest like? I mean, was it just an instant success? I mean, did you plant this and it just, you follow the instructions and it worked?

Doug Fine:
The first harvest was really beautiful. But you hit on something there really important in that question about that there can be upsides to this three generation enforced break with this plant. From being one of humanity’s favorite plants to be in one of its most vilified plants and back is a really interesting thing. Because you could draw a lot of conclusions about exactly what hemp cannabis prohibition parallel. But things like all the horrors of the 20th century that we could list, we weren’t feeding the endocannabinoid system. But also that we live in a society where, although, there is now a Renaissance of healthy living, and regenerative living, and regenerative farming, and eating and everything, the majority of the people on the earth are not eating healthy diets. So that hemp can come back and provide this healthy, tasty solution is a great thing.

Doug Fine:
But also on the business end is what I find really interesting is that as someone who is developing genetics with hemp, right? Needless to say, I’d come across folks who are interested in working on the genetic model of what you might call the 20th century way of distributing seeds, which is, to put it bluntly, farmers have to buy it from you every year if you’re a seed provider. And you don’t own your food. You don’t own your genetics.

Matt Baum:
You’re growing somebody else’s seeds basically.

Doug Fine:
Yeah. And that’s not how I want to farm. So I and others are looking at a different model. It seems so weird to folks who are like… They think that what’s been going on for the last 75 years in the way farmers have been treated is normal. And they’re trying to recreate it now. I was thinking when Charles Ingalls and the Ingalls family was going out a little house on the Prairie and with their wheat seed and starting their wheat crop, they were not serves to company that they brought their wheat from. And for-

Matt Baum:
No, they were just farmers, basically.

Doug Fine:
Yeah. So the business model that we’re able to recreate and when someone says, “Hey, that’s never how agriculture has been done. It’s tough.” You banned our plant for so many years, we’re doing it our way now. And if you want to try and rip off farmers or… Let me be fair. Let me be fair. There was an argument to be made, a legitimate argument to be made that as long as supply is consistent, the people that are selling, let’s say, seeds that a farmer might want to grow for a food product on large acreage, they probably are offering it at much, much lower prices than someone like me and others who would be offering right of replication and the ability of own genetics.

Matt Baum:
I mean, Nebraska corn is a perfect example.

Doug Fine:
Yeah. You’re right.

Matt Baum:
It’s sad. But that’s why there’s so much of it too.

Doug Fine:
Exactly.

Matt Baum:
So what-

Doug Fine:
Fair enough, right? Different business model, but just to answer your question about the first harvest, I got to tell you. My son was with me on the first harvest that I was really fully part of. I’d been covering hemp for years and cannabis and hemp both for years. But the first crop that was really, I was part of. My son spent his sixth birthday harvesting and loved it. It’s a great memory for everyone and I have a great picture of a bundle of his hemp covering his whole body. It did go well. We were partnered with a great, terrific farmer that first year and I learned a lot from him. I’m very grateful to the first partners that I had when I first started out. So I would say that it was a combination of good fortune, good weather, good genetics, good partners.

Doug Fine:
But yeah, the first crop was… It was a high benchmark that I still judge every year’s crop bite. How does it look compared to 2016 in Vermont.

Making money from growing hemp

Matt Baum:
Sure. So let’s say you’re not an author, you don’t have any other money coming in. Can you live on this? Could this be the one thing that you do?

Doug Fine:
No, not yet. I’m excited about a new partnership that I have. So I have these great friends that I’ve known for seven years. These great women, Kim and Dana, who run this health center in Tucson, that it’s just trusted in the community of helping people, especially, with cannabis. And they’re not a dispensary, but they do have put sales of various things including hemp products. So there are people that I trust. There are people who trust me and there are people who have an existing body of customers in a major city who trust them. And they are talking numbers that if we decided to switch… We’re still deciding how much acreage to plan for this year, 2020. If we really go for it, let’s say, 2020 even just isn’t yet another kind of… I don’t want to say a practice year, but a growth year and it’s 2021 before there would be a significant amount of income for my family.

Doug Fine:
Again, you’re asking such good questions. I’m glad you asked that because it’s easy to advise people to have a five year plan and say, “Oh, you better be ready.” Best laid plans. You’re not going to make money for the first couple of years. Especially, if you’re doing it right. Especially if you have soil to clean up.

Matt Baum:
Right.

Doug Fine:
But if you’re a farmer that’s struggling and has a mortgage, you need to make it work. So it’s a tough decision. But you got to have that long-term game plan.

Matt Baum:
It’s a matter of what do you have to lose, basically, in that case.

Doug Fine:
Yeah. Right.

Matt Baum:
This wasn’t a gotcha question. Like, “Oh well, he’s an author. Of course, he can stop and do this. He’s got that fat NPR money. I’m sure.”

What’s next for Doug Fine?

Matt Baum:
So what’s the next book about?

Doug Fine:
Good question. Well, so American Hemp Farmers, what we’ve been talking about now, comes out year 2020. The world’s kind of open on the next one. I have a collection of comedic essays that are related to hemp that I’ve been working on. I’m also developing a TV show of the same name, American Hemp Farmer that is related to that.

Matt Baum:
Oh, awesome.

Doug Fine:
It’s not picked up yet, but I’m optimistic about it. [crosstalk 00:29:23]

Matt Baum:
That’s very cool.

Doug Fine:
Eyes and ears open.

Matt Baum:
Okay. If you’re going forward, do you continue? Is hemp a part of your life now? Are you a hemp farmer now? This is the life?

Doug Fine:
I’m about to apply for my New Mexico permit. So my commercial work is not at home in New Mexico. New Mexico permits are pretty expensive. They start hover around 700, 800 bucks. So it’s just for personal use. We’re using our fiber from last year’s harvest to do a hempcrete patch on our porch. There’s like a little door jamb home.

Matt Baum:
You make your own hempcrete?

Doug Fine:
Yeah. Isn’t that cool?

Matt Baum:
That’s awesome. That’s awesome.

Doug Fine:
But I mean, very micro amounts, man. Not a huge amount.

Matt Baum:
Oh, sure. Yeah.

Doug Fine:
But what I’m getting at is, yes, I’m going from my own family’s food and fiber needs. One of these years we’ll grow enough at home. Because my sweetheart makes a lot of them. Our family’s clothes in general and including hemp clothes, but not yet from hemp that we’ve grown. So that would be cool.

Matt Baum:
Yeah. I mean, the next step, that’s one of the things I’m really excited for is hemp material and hemp processing of fabrics and whatnot. It seems like we are so far behind right now. There’s no reason. There’s no reason whatsoever.

Matt Baum:
Doug, I love the book. I don’t want to keep you any longer. You’ve got kids and goats and whatnot. Is there anything that you want to touch on that I didn’t touch on that we need to mention? I’m going to edit this too, so this part will go out. We’re just going to sound super slick. Don’t worry about that. But is there anything-

Doug Fine:
You did a fantastic job of covering the basics. I guess, I would say to leave folks with, first off, thank you so much for your support of American Hemp Farmer. And thanks for reading it because-

Matt Baum:
Oh, love it.

Doug Fine:
Thank you. The goal is to help farmers as you know, Matt, for reading it. That’s really why I wrote the book. And folks who want to follow me at Organic Cowboy on Twitter and Instagram. And my website’s dougfine.com where folks can sign up for my periodic dispatches from the Funky Butte Ranch. Everything about regenerative living and hemp and beyond. Thanks for keeping an eye out for future projects.

Support from the hemp community

Matt Baum:
Hey, last question, and I just thought of it. Did you feel any pushback from other people that are farmers and whatnot that thought this guy’s faking it? This guy’s getting in it just because as a fashion statement or something. Was there anybody that pushed back against you?

Doug Fine:
I felt almost complete support since getting into hemp. I think one of the reasons was, I mean, the first year that I planted, myself was 2016. And there were not, I forgot, like 700 something permanent farmers that year.

Matt Baum:
Yeah, maybe.

Doug Fine:
Being back that early, again, I do not consider… I consider myself learning every single time I put a seed in the ground and I do not consider myself an expert. But at least I’ve been added enough to wear a badge of legitimate… Somewhat of a badge of legitimacy. And that’s something I’m going to always try to do is to walk the walk. Because nobody’s perfect and it’s not just about growing hemp organically, regeneratively and all that. My product, I spend 50 cents per label on compostable label with non-toxic stickum. It’s really expensive to be righteous.

Matt Baum:
Yeah, it’s hard. It’s very hard.

Doug Fine:
You have to be a role model here because you don’t want people calling you out and going, “Why is there plastic in your packaging.” And stuff like that. We’re trying to save humanity here.

Matt Baum:
You’ve got to be really careful every step of the way. And it’s not just gatekeeping and whatnot. I mean, if we’re going to do this, it’s important to do it the right way. But yeah, it’s not easy.

Matt Baum:
Doug, you’re doing it the right way. I love the book. I’m excited for other people to read it. I hope you get this TV show because you’re a riot and this would be fantastic. We need more of this. We need more people that not only can tell the story and spread the word, but they can do it with a little bit of humor and make it relatable and that’s what I really liked about your book. That is not to say that all the other scientists and farmers I’ve interviewed were super boring. You were just great. Okay? That’s all I’m saying.

Doug Fine:
Well, bless you for that and thank you to you and the Ministry of Hemp. It’s a great resource and I’m sure you got a ton of followers, but I hope everybody’s paying attention and I’m watching.

Matt Baum:
Hey, we’ll keep spreading the word if you do man. Thank you so much for what you’ve done.

Doug Fine:
You’re welcome. Thank you brother.

Final thoughts from Matt

Matt Baum:
You can follow the further adventures of Doug over at dougfine.com. You can find him anywhere on social media with his handle at Organic Cowboy. I’ll have information in the show notes about how to preorder American Hemp Farmer. It would be really cool to help Doug get on the bestseller list, so if you get a chance, get over there and preorder American Hemp Farmer. I know I’ve gushed about it the whole episode, but I loved this book.

Matt Baum:
And that about brings us to the end of another episode of the Ministry of Hemp podcast. My name is Matt. I have been your host and I want to thank everybody that is supporting us with your downloads, our Patreon or just asking questions. You can call me at 402-819-6417 and ask your hemp related question. We will play it later on one of our Hemp Q and A shows where Kit, the editor-in-chief of ministryofhemp.com and myself, play your questions on the air and answer them. So please shoot us your questions. You’ll be able to find that phone number in the show notes along with information about how to preorder Doug Fine’s book and all kinds of other cool stuff including the full written transcript for this episode. Because at Ministry of Hemp, we believe a more accessible world is a better world for everybody.

Matt Baum:
Be sure to get over to ministryofhemp.com and check out all the latest stuff that we’re throwing up there, article wise, and let us know what you think about everything we’re doing at all of our social media. You can find us under the handle at Ministry of Hemp or /ministryofhemp.

Matt Baum:
Until next time, this is Matt reminding you to take care of yourself, take care of others, and make good decisions, will ya? This is the Ministry of Hemp podcast. Signing off.

Photo: Composite photo shows, on the left, Doug Fine, holding a goat in his arms, and on the right, the cover of his book: American Hemp Farmer, Adventures & Misadventures in the Cannabis Trade.
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Matt Baum has been hosting, producing, and editing podcasts for almost ten years. He's been a touring musician, chef, journalist, and avid comic book fan for as long as he can remember. Currently, Matt lives in Omaha Nebraska with his wife Kacie and pugs Mable and Bobo.

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