Your garden. Your garden on drugs.

Hemp leaf in hand

Manitoba Harvest CEO Mike Fata shows a cutting from his hemp crop outside of Winnipeg.

Back in the day, people used to sneak out for a smoke in the garden. One of the more intriguing predictions from the Garden Media Group, a home and garden marketing and PR firm based in Pennsylvania, is a growing trend in smoking your garden–as in lighting up some home-grown.

[ATTENTION CANADIANS: The idea of playing urban farmer and getting high on more than good intentions may be pretty tantalizing but the above prediction is based solely on American consumer research.]

The concept makes a lot of sense. As stated in the GMG’s 2015 Garden Trends Report, “With an increasing number of states decriminalizing marijuana, more people will begin growing their own and need seeds, plants and products.” Now, there’s an interesting retail opportunity for enterprising garden centres if ever there was one.

Here in Southern Ontario, we’ll have to settle with growing mint for our mojitos. But, come spring while relaxing in your weed-free backyard, raise a glass to Manitoba Harvest, the innovative Winnipeg-based hemp foods company. They grow cannabis alright, but not the kind that gets an RCMP officer’s knickers in a twist. I had the pleasure of meeting CEO Mike Fata and visiting one of his hemp fields in August, 2013. Here’s what I learned :

Hemp plants

A Manitoba Harvest hemp field almost ready for harvesting.

• Marijuana and hempseed come from the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa, but from different varieties or cultivars, making them genetically different.

• Hempseed has no drug value, containing little to no measurable amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in pot.

• To cultivate hempseed, the plant is densely sown so that each tall stalk grows with few leaves and branches, yielding greater amounts of seeds. Marijuana plants are encouraged to become bushy, producing the buds and leaves that are harvested for medicinal and ‘recreational’ use.

The hemp plant that Manitoba Harvest has grown over the last 15 or so years is unique, bred naturally (GMO-free) without fungicides, herbicides or pesticides. The resulting hempseed, rich in naturally occurring Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids, is used for making a variety of frankly delicious food products, including Hemp Hearts (the seeds themselves) and Hemp Bliss, a beverage that can be used as a milk substitute.

So American gardeners may be headed for gardening in a blue haze but we Canadians can still enjoy cannabis in our gardens. It’s just that it’ll probably be in the form of a healthier breakfast on the patio.


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