Santa Rosa Junior College is first college in state to offer hemp cultivation program

GUY KOVNER THE PRESS DEMOCRAT September 1, 2019

On a plateau above the Russian River Valley near Forestville, about 1,000 bushy green plants that look exactly like marijuana are flourishing between two rows of corn about 6 feet tall.

Come mid-October, the mature plants will have doubled in height, matching the corn and yielding about 3,000 pounds of flowers and leaves worth up to $75,000.

A Santa Rosa Junior College agriculture instructor and two of his students worked on a sunny afternoon last week, trimming the spiky-leafed plants and spraying them with organic fertilizer in the midst of a sprawling garden, orchard and vineyard surrounded by a 6-foot fence under 24-hour camera surveillance.

Nothing was amiss.

SRJC, which has trained students to grow wine grapes since the 1970s, said it is the first and only community college in California to establish a hemp cultivation curriculum and plant hemp. The college put seedlings in the heavily composted soil at its 365-acre Shone Farm on July 12.

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