Lehigh Valley

Industrial hemp to be grown in Lehigh Valley

UPPER SAUCON TOWNSHIP, Pa. - Hundreds of pounds of industrial hemp seeds were planted in a field in Upper Saucon Township, Lehigh County, Thursday, the first time it’s happened in nearly 80 years.

"What you're seeing now is the culmination of some 20 years of effort by some of my colleagues in the Pennsylvania hemp industry," said Geoff Whaling, President of Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council.

This growing project is made possible under the new Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program, which the State Department of Agriculture launched in December.

The goal is to test the value and viability of industrial hemp cultivation in the state.

"I am hopeful that we can reestablish the industrial hemp crop in the Lehigh Valley," added Whaling.

And it’s attracting worldwide attention.

"We are going into a new revolution of global significance," said Australian Phil Wirner.

Wirner traveled to the Lehigh Valley from Australia to see how the research program will work.

He think this area of the state has ideal conditions due to its soil and environment.

Members of this research project say the hemp will be used to created goods including health products, which is why former Philadelphia Flyer and current Phantoms’ Assistant Coach Riley Cote got involved.

"I started transitioning from Whey protein to digestible hemp protein," said Cote, a board member of the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council.

The hope is that this growth effort will offer Lehigh Valley farmers tremendous new opportunities.

The Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council will host a free celebration of the industrial hemp crop on Saturday, June 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Michael the Archangel School in Bethlehem at 4121 Old Bethlehem Pike.

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, State Senators Schwank and Folmer, and 14 of Pennsylvania’s hemp farmers will be on hand along with displays and workshops.




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