The DEA did not show up to raid his field earlier this month so Ryan Loflin and a crew of volunteers harvested, by hand, the first major (known) hemp crop in The United States in over 50 years. Ryan quietly amassed the illegal seeds from abroad and planted them earlier this year in about 60 acres of the same land he worked as a boy in a remote corner of Southeast Colorado. In early October, as part of a decision to optimize yield, he opted to harvest the entire crop by hand. Instead of hiring migrant farm workers Ryan turned to twitter and facebook making a general call to anyone interested in participating in this historic event to go to his farm, camp and help harvest. Friday night the crew began to assemble, most camping in tents inside the barn used the following day to store the harvested crop. People came from down the road, and as far away as Idaho and Texas to participate. Saturday morning after filling out an indemnification contract, a breakfast of muffins, yogurt and coffee, Ryan and fellow hemp enthusiasts fanned out across the weedy hemp field plucking the green leafy stocks, now mature and heavy with seed, one by one, pulling out the entire plant by the roots.
Harvest weekend proved to be a visually interesting event full of colorful characters harvesting a crop in the still drought-plagued Southeastern corner of Colorado that directly reflects the changing attitudes and laws about Cannabis and Hemp in Colorado and around the country. And it was all made possible by the entrepreneurial spirit of an enterprising farmer.
I made 3 trips to the farm and hope that the photographs below capture Ryan’s entrepreneurial spirit as well as showcase the undertaking in a visually interesting way.