To say that Judy Wicks has had a busy couple of decades would be an understatement.
She started running her own Philadelphia restaurant, the White Dog Café, in 1983. The café became a city pioneer in what’s now known as the farm to table movement. She founded a nonprofit called Fair Food to connect rural farmers to an urban marketplace. She founded the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia in 2001.
A year ago, she also founded the nonprofit organization All Together Now Pennsylvania (originally called Proud Pennsylvania), dedicated to forming and promoting local supply chains-and one of its cornerstones is industrial hemp.
“... I think that that our long-term survival and security depend on producing basic needs locally,” said Wicks. All Together Now Pennsylvania’s goal is to move wealth from remote, larger corporations and into the regional growers’ pockets by producing more locally.
All Together Now Pennsylvania has been connecting businesses using hemp with local producers. In industrial hemp’s case, that means connecting research projects at the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia to commercial uses such as CBD oil production.
Pennsylvania still has a lot of catching up to do compared to large countries like China, but Wicks is confident in the state’s ability to serve as a hub for the product-as it already has for the fossil fuel industry. Building the foundation for future generation’s survival will rely on different measures.
“We need renewable energy and organic food and hemp and so on ... it’s a battle to just support the small farmers and small entrepreneurs,” said Wicks.
Proud Pennsylvania works to ensure that business opportunities and contracts go to more local businesses, instead of large, out-of-state corporations.
“It’s not just about having our basic needs available to us, but it’s also about values of cooperation and sharing and compassion.”
With the relatively new industries hemp and medical marijuana, there’s also plenty of room to adopt a new business practices-such as prioritizing the well-being of the environment instead of accumulating money.
According to Wicks, the best thing for interested farmers to do now is invest in educating themselves about the hemp crop. Connecting with organizations like All Together Now Pennsylvania is a good idea as well, as a way to reach the entrepreneurs using hemp.
“We’ve got to get going on this and we’ve got to train our farmers how to grow it and develop these local supply chains.”
This article is based on an interview from the Lancaster Farming Podcast. To listen to the interview in its entirety, go to bit.ly/LFpodcast37