fbpx Lowcountry hemp farmers use new technology to break stigma around hemp

Lowcountry hemp farmers use new technology to break stigma around hemp

Twitter icon
screen shot

 

When you think of hemp, you might think of a cannabis variation like CBD or THC, but leaders of a new facility in Orangeburg County hope to change that.

Leaders with BrightMa Farms say they’re doing it by using technology. It's an effort to reveal the benefits of hemp that many people may not know of.

Before hemp farming was legal in South Carolina in 2018, it was made out to be dangerous plant and an outdated farming practice.

But it’s a farmer from Johns Island who's taking a different approach while bringing minority communities to the forefront of the industry.

Harold Singletary comes from a family of hemp farmers.

“I'm a fourth-generation descendant of BrightMa, who was enslaved on a plantation,” Singletary said.

It’s a tradition planted in The Palmetto State.

“She was the first to put her hands in the soil. So, the opportunity for BrightMa Farms wouldn't exist without her.”

But keeping hands in the soil prevented many farmers for putting hands on cash, which was something Singletary was determined to change.

“For us, it was how do we bridge a gap, bring minority farmers that are usually farming for survival, and farm as a business?”

Singletary is now hoping to grow his idea, using tech and a foundation backed by science.

“We saw that we could bring impact, right through genetics through science,” Singletary said.

Singletary partnered with biochemists from Switzerland to use technology focused on genome sequencing in an attempt to open a conversation and how he says hemp can change the world.

“I think one of the things that is truly underappreciated about hemp is its potential, it has amazing genetic potential,” Plant biochemist with PureGene, Michael Ruckle, said.

With the help of Ruckle and BrightMa’s partnership with PureGene, the company identifies specific genomes that determine breeding patterns that would go toward different uses for the plant.

This includes benefits with medical products as well as clothing and gas.

“We like to say from the rooter to the tooter there's nothing left on the hog. But that's the kind of thought process that we think about the plant. It is a miracle plant. [An] awesome suit could be made out of hemp, right? I drove up here using fuel, I could have biofuel made out of hemp,” Singletary said.

“Our goal is to lean on the science, the fact-based information and have a conversation.”

The company is also utilizing artificial intelligence technology to change certain farming practices to make them more full automated with the ability to monitor carbon monoxide levels and water plants with the tap of a phone. This starts with facilities right here in the Lowcountry.

“We're starting one of our first remote breeding programs with BrightMa, here in South Carolina,” Ruckle said.

Still, Singletary has a bigger purpose.

“That’s what we lean on the HBCU universities,” Singletary said.

“The next generation of thought leaders that will help us change the narrative.”

On Friday, BrightMa is breaking ground on an 85-acre facility in Orangeburg, located right near South Carolina State University.

The “innovation center” is expected to be completed within eight to 10 months and will create 30 jobs within Orangeburg, as well as internships for students at SC State.

It all comes from a partnership that BrightMa has created with HBCUs to give students the opportunity to lead the research into the medicinal benefits of hemp, and more specifically, give minorities the opportunity that his family didn’t have.

“This is a solution that is going to change how we view agriculture and how agriculture can help the world,” Ruckle said.

“It's a miracle plant that's been demonized and through the science, we're allowed to change people's thought process,” Singletary added.

BrightMa Farms already provides plants to multiple states and farms across the East Coast from their breeding programs.

Singletary said he hopes to use similar breeding programs and use A.I. technology to help change farming practices across the industry in the near future.

e-mail icon Facebook icon Twitter icon LinkedIn icon Reddit icon
Rate this article: 
Article category: 
Regional Marijuana News: