The 2019 winners of the Cultivation Classic’s Regenerative Farm Award, Lane Creek Hemp Company, are pioneering the regenerative movement within the rise of the very saturated legal hemp industry. With CBD products available at every convenience store and coffee shop and every big wig company trying to get a foot in the door, products that maintain the integrity of the plant have become few and far between. There are hemp fields lining many major highways and small country roads, plant of pastures have been tilled and laid out with plastic, drip lines, and rows upon rows of hemp plants. Lane Creek Hemp Company provides a refreshing insight into what regenerative hemp can and should look like.
Lane Creek Hemp Company demonstrates the potential for a successful regenerative hemp farm to maintain the integrity and quality and remain afloat within the tsunami of hemp companies that are flooding in from a multitude of corporations. These corporations primarily have a financial interest in the industry, which shifts the focus from the plant. Family owned and run, the Lane Creek team has created an environment of thriving hemp fields, happy animals and healthy soil. This inspiring vision of a fully regenerative farm that not only cultivates full spectrum hemp, but cultivates knowledge and the grounds to experiment with integrating the regenerative model and conventional farming so that regenerative farming can become more accessible and approachable for the average farmer. Daniel Richardson, part owner of the company, wants to see “the average hemp and cannabis farmer able to be fully transparent within their practices, their farming model and to still see the results of high yield and top shelf quality that the industry demands”.
Nestled in the Jackson County just outside of Medford, Oregon, the Lane Creek Hemp Company is thriving amidst the heat of the summer and is a refreshing oasis amidst the barren mono-cropped acreage of hemp that is rapidly filling the open spaces of Southern Oregon farm land. The property was previously used as cattle land and was barren and worn thin. Daniel, having lived and worked with his cousin Nick at Green Source Gardens, has since brought those methods to the property, green-thumbing biodiversity and life back into the soil in just the short 2 years since moving onto the land. With direct access and water rights to Lane Creek, Daniel and his partner Zach have been able to provide year round, entirely gravity-fed water to the property, creating a thriving permaculture of indigenous plants, critters and rejuvenated native soil. Designed and dictated by the terroir and climate of the land, rather than altering or bringing in foreign soils and substances, the Lane Creek Hemp reserve is a revived homestead – producing quality hemp, varieties of vegetables and bringing back pollinators and diversity to the fields and gardens.
Lane Creek Hemp was pure certified as of summer 2019, and practices the regenerative, organic methods of the Dragonfly Earth Medicine Pure Collective. Previously a productive hay field, the (4 acres) is now home to Hugelkultur beds, layered with home produced manure and a polyculture of native pollinators, plants and hemp. The beds are bursting with an assortment of potatoes, onions, comfrey, daisies and a few added pollinators. Daniel and Zach are simply collaborating with the diverse network of plants and animals to encourage and support the natural course of the soil, stating that “the pinnacle of our success over the years will be our soil”.
No-till practices allows for nature to run its course and for the soil to accumulate a foundation of healthy biodiversity, with no store-bought additives, that can be built on and expanded each year. With no specific recipe or schedule, the soil is adaptive to seasonal progression and changes. Over the course of the winter, their potting soil is developed through a compost of manure, straw and wood chips that are inoculated with forest-harvested IMO’s ( indigenous micro-organisms) as well as hemp stalk and leaves. This mixture is developed in the temperature controlled greenhouse to prevent leaching in the winter rains. Daniel and his team turn and add to the mixture as seen fit, depending on moisture content, smell and feel. Their berms are mulched with a mixture of straw and wood chips, suppressing the growth of the surrounded perennials and, when the winter rains subside, are layered with carbon and the “mother-load” of manure (primarily collected from the sheep and goats). Once the plants are established and growing, the soil is top-dressed with layers of manure and carbon until harvest.
From seed to finished product, their flower is treated with care and intention. Daniel emphasizes that LCHC’s “post harvest practices are what differentiate us in this developing market. We treat all of our flower as “Top Shelf”. Creating a “shelf stable” product that will still hold its value throughout the coming year.” While many of the hemp farms in southern Oregon are dedicated solely to creating isolate, Lane Creek’s intention is to create high quality flower and product. Much of the hemp industry, due to mass production, has difficulty maintaining a sustainable model post-harvest, and often use 24 hour propane or flash drying methods. This process runs the risk of cooking off essential terpenes and cannabinoids. Lane Creek Hemp is dried and cured over the course of the winter, kept safely in a temperature controlled environment, devoid of light and disruption. This process maximizes shelf life and maintains terpene and cannabinoid content, as it is not touched until it is fully shelf-stable. This allows the flower to maintain its full spectrum potential, that can then be processed into a multitude of medicines and interact with our endocannabinoid system in full force.
Not only is Lane Creek Hemp creating and producing full spectrum product and a full circle network on their farm, but they are doing so amongst their community as well. With donations from local grocery stores, they feed their animals the “spent” produce that the store would otherwise toss out, and the grains that are donated from a local brewery. These potatoes and onions are then plugged into the berms, which help break up the dense, native soil. Building on these connections with the local community and raising upwards of 90 farm animals has created a full circle system on the farm. They are raising honey bees, which are key pollinators and contribute to the wellbeing of the entire farm. Chickens and pigs provide an outlet for food waste on the property and the manure is a necessary component for healthy gardens and carbon rich soil for the plants to grow and thrive. Every aspect of the farm is contributing to the land, the animals and the plants. This is creating space for hands on education that Daniel hopes to expand and enhance. He is in the process of setting up guest spaces for future WOOF volunteers and those seeking to learn not just about hemp or cannabis, but about regenerative farming and what a fully active farm looks like when in harmony with the needs of the terroir of the land, the needs of the animals and the flow of the local water systems.
Leading through practice, intention and education, Lane Creek Hemp Company embodies the heart and soul of the Regenerative movement. Finding and creating balance in a competitive market, while maintaining the integrity of the plant and creating a system that benefits all of its components. The hemp industry is rapidly expanding and as the market develops, the regenerative family will be an integral part of keeping true to the plant and maintaining intentional farming and medicine. Lane Creek Hemp Company is one of many beautiful farms working towards keeping the conversation going on what it means to be regenerative and bringing pride and honesty into their practices.
Originally Published in Skunk Magazine, 2019.