By COLE REIF
Great Bend Post
The State of Kansas passed a research permit to allow hemp to be grown commercially, and 2019 was the first year producers could grow the crop in the state.
The trio of Richard, Aaron, and Melissa Baldwin own Circle K Farms, just outside of Great Bend. Melissa says the group decided to get on the pioneering edge of the hemp crop and opened South Bend Industrial Hemp, named after the Barton County township where it is located.
"I am a crop research scientist and the more I read about the crop, the more I learned about what it could do," said Melissa Baldwin. "Knowing the benefits and economic avenues with CBD oil and industrial hemp, that is when we decided to do a grow when Kansas opened the application."
South Bend is a licensed hemp grower in the State of Kansas and offers CBD and fiber and grain.
Melissa says paper and plastic products can be replaced with industrial hemp, and South Bend hopes create more sustainable products for the world. Melissa says getting to know their suppliers was an integral part in starting this hemp cultivation farm, especially in a new and sometimes unregulated industry.
"We went through the background checks and were approved," said Melissa Baldwin. "We found an extractor. You harvest your plant and take it to an extractor, that is how you get paid."
Baldwin says there is still a negative stigmatism that is associated with the hemp crop. Many folks believe the CBD product is grown for marijuana, but Baldwin says it is not used for that at all. She has enjoyed educating individuals and groups about the crop and what it can do for everyone.
More information on South Bend’s story can be found at the website, soutbendindustrialhemp.com.