The endless possibilities for industrial hemp
Ted Galaty, who owns and operates Willow's Keep Farm in Zumbrota, has been growing hemp since 2018.
ZUMBROTA, Minn. ― Ted Galaty became an expert on hemp shortly after he began growing it.
Galaty owns and operates Willow's Keep Farm in Zumbrota where he's been growing hemp since 2018. Galaty purchased the 1920s homestead in 2015 with the sole purpose of moving his haunted attraction from the History Center of Olmsted County to a permanent location.
"We were totally focused on agritourism," said Galaty of the time.
Shortly after moving to the site, they were growing corn on one field and pumpkins on another, he said. Then once hemp became legal to grow in Minnesota in 2018 under the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, Galaty said they started growing it at their farm.
"We slowly just transitioned all of our efforts from corn into cultivating hemp for our hemp maze," he said of the maze which is open from July through October. "So instead of walking through a corn maze, which we were doing previously, you are walking through a hemp maze."
Now the farm is under its fifth year of being licensed to grow industrial hemp through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Galaty said while the site is still focused on agritourism, it's also a serious farm operation that grows several different varieties of industrial hemp.
"We have about six acres in cultivation," said Galaty. "But we are looking to expand our operations as more opportunities come forth for industrial hemp, so we will probably be expanding in the future if not the near future."
When asked what are some uses for industrial hemp, Galaty said he could go on for hours. Hemp wood is one product he's recently been excited about.
"The stock itself is 30% fiber, and then the 70% of it is the core which is called hemp wood, or hemp heard," said Galaty of a product made by Hempwood . "And it's as dense as oak and about as light as balsa wood, so you can imagine what that can be turned into."
He said the environmental impacts of using hemp for wood versus trees are huge.
"You're growing hemp in 90 to 120 days, where when you grow a tree, it takes decades to get a tree to the point of maturity where you can harvest it," said Galaty.
Then there's the application of using hemp to make biofuel, he said.
"Similar to what they do with corn, but actually with higher yields, so that's really intriguing," he said.
Galaty said hemp also has the ability to be turned into an "electric capacitor or basically a battery," as well as getting graphene out of it.
"I do think this plant is going to revolutionize not only the United States but revolutionize the world, and how we really learn to farm and use the hemp all over the place," said Galaty.