Franny’s Story: The First Female Hemp Farmer in North Carolina
March 25, 2020
Did you know that North Carolina’s Industrial Hemp Program is the only farmer-funded hemp program in the country? This was all driven by Franny Tacy, Owner Operator of Franny’s Farm in Leicester, NC.
Since Franny has always been a huge proponent of hemp, she recognized the crop’s regenerative potential and aspired to create a community centered on reintroducing hemp to the state. To maximize the crop’s potential for the region, she connected with growers, research universities, and suppliers to conduct field trials. This provided a resource for farmers to come together to learn how to grow the most sustainable, highest quality hemp, while demonstrating her belief in cultivating crops with the sun’s natural energy and the soil’s nutrients.
So, what happens at Franny’s Farm today? Franny’s Farm is an organic, pasture-focused agritourism farm, which breeds livestock, grows organic produce, and hosts guests at cabins onsite. They plant their fields with produce and rotate their Katahdin sheep, cows, goats, and donkey between seven different pastures, all lined with mulberry trees. And now, they’re focused on producing hemp. Utilizing the hemp Franny’s Farm produces, they partner with processors to develop hemp-based products for Franny’s Farmacy.
How did Franny begin growing hemp?
While teaching farming business classes at conferences in North Carolina and in the region, Franny collected signatures and funding to aid the development of the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Program. By connecting with farmers across the region, they successfully raised $2,000 for the program required so the state could vote to establish the new program.
After the hemp legislation’s passing, Franny considered, “what’s next? I guess I need to grow.” since transporting hemp across state lines was illegal at the time, she knew she had to source from elsewhere. So, her farm collaborated with NC State University’s Alternative Crops and Organics Program to identify seed suppliers to order hemp seed from Italy. This worked perfectly since NC is along the same latitude as her source in Italy. Eight months later, Franny was recognized as the first female hemp farmer in North Carolina!
Franny believes in the benefits of growing hemp outdoors since it blends the sun’s natural energy with the nutrients from the earth to feed and grow the plant in a holistic environment. She compares this to the Dr. Bronner’s-endorsed Sun+Earth Certification, a program inspired by the Regenerative Organic Certification, and is adapted to cannabis cultivation practices. In order to properly educate and protect farmers, consumers, and everyone else along the supply chain, Franny emphasizes the need for hemp certifications to support the cultivation of the highest quality and most sustainable products possible.
In collaboration with local farmers, the NC State program, Front Range Biosciences, and the Women In Hemp non-profit, Franny’s Farm conducts field trials to determine which plant varieties will perform best on their farm. This year, Franny’s Farm planted 25 different varieties to determine the most successful genetics for western NC and other farms along the same latitude.
By working together with research programs and field-to-shelf companies like NC State and Franny’s Farmacy, Front Range Biosciences can leverage its research & development team and breeding program to develop new varieties that produce higher yields for farmers and provide effective guidance for the industry moving forward.
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