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This hemp won't get you high

Ted Galaty has been operating his haunted house experience, Fright Farm, at Willow's Keep Farm outside of Zumbrota on Highway 52 since 2015. Now, Galaty has planted four acres worth of hemp to start a hemp maze. Previously, Fright Farm had a corn maze, but Galaty wanted to try something new and educate people on the benefits of hemp. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 4
The hemp begins to grow at Willow's Keep Farm. The seed was donated by Legacy Hemp and is a part of the Minnesota Department of Department of Agriculture's Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. The project’s goal is to have Minnesota farmers try to study the growth, cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp. The program began in 2015. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 4
The hemp is still growing at Willow's Keep Farm in Zumbrota in early July. Ted Galaty said he expects the hemp to grow to around eight feet by the fall. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 4
The hemp begins to grow at Willow's Keep Farm. The seed was donated by Legacy Hemp and is a part of the Minnesota Department of Department of Agriculture's Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. The project’s goal is to have Minnesota farmers try to study the growth, cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp. The program began in 2015. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 4

ZUMBROTA — A new crop is beginning to take form at Willow's Keep Farm outside of Zumbrota.

It's not corn or soybeans. The crop isn't to be confused with ditch weed or marijuana. It's hemp. The multi-purpose, versatile crop is going to be turned into a maze for people to walk through, while also getting a hands-on education from the farm's owner, Ted Galaty.

Previously, the site had a corn maze as a part of the farm's haunted house experience: Fright Farm. Galaty predicts the hemp will grow about 8 feet tall. Galaty said some hemp will grow upwards of 12 feet.

Galaty and his farm are a part of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, created to help the MDA study the growth, cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp.

Since hemp is a Schedule 1 controlled substance, stealing the hemp is not a smart idea either. Plus, as Galaty says "You couldn't get high off of it."

But there are many benefits to hemp, as Galaty points out. The issue at this point is trying to figure out what he wants to do with it after the maze.

Does he make clothing? Get into selling cannabidiol? Or could he make a killing in the biofuel business?

At this point, with only 4 acres worth of hemp mixed in with corn remnants, his options are limited. When it comes to where he could process the hemp, it gets even smaller.

Since the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program is for research purposes and Minnesota doesn't have a place to process hemp, Galaty has to send his crops to Canada.

Galaty isn't a fan of this option whatsoever, finding it counterintuitive to load his hemp on a truck to be sent to Canada, when hemp naturally takes in carbon dioxide and removes it from the atmosphere.

The processing is Galaty's biggest gripe with such a unique, multi-purpose crop: What does he do with it in a responsible way?

"I'm just trying to be real creative," Galaty said. "I could probably do soaps, I could probably do candles, I could probably do lotions ... there's a lot of different things you can do, as long as you're not selling it for human consumption."

Overall, Galaty believes he has an opportunity to educate people about hemp. Telling people this crop isn't a ploy to introduce more marijuana into Minnesota, but to show people the historical significance of hemp and the many ways it can help people.

"It's one of those things, it's a learning process," Galaty said. "That's how I farm."

To visit Willow's Keep Farm and learn more about the hemp maze, visit their Facebook website: https://www.facebook.com/Hemp-Maze-Minnesota-235953090497989/.

Matthew Lambert

Matthew Lambert joined the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2018 covering school board, public safety, and writing features. Lambert previously wrote for the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal. He is a graduate of Winona State University with a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication: Journalism. 

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