Top Profile: Doug Fine, Hemp Farmer and Goat Herder

Doug Fine wants to save the planet by teaching humans a regenerative and sustainable way of life. An ambitious goal for a solar-powered hemp farmer and goat herder, but Fine persists. That’s the thing about saving the planet, it takes tenacity. It is about evangelizing in the biblical sense, from our mouth to their ears. They may not want or be able to keep up with the chops, but they will hear you.

Author of six books to date, Fine’s first effort, Not really an Alaskan mountaineer, was released in 2004, reflecting his introduction to nature as a guy who grew up in suburban New York. Another published in 2008, Goodbye my Subaru, details his “green off-grid” living, demonstrating how to drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels in order to live sustainably. It was followed in 2012 by Too high to failwith a focus on the regenerative side of the emerging cannabis industry at the time, and the green economic revolution, which was in full swing ten years later.

In 2013, he appeared on TEDx Talks in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where his farm, the Funky Butte Ranch, is located in a remote area a few hours from the nearest town. The speech, titled “Why We Need Goat Farming in the Digital Age”, is a call to arms, with the intention of luring humans into the garden to save their souls and health.

Fine introduced himself, “I stand before you today, a neo-rugged individualistic solar-powered goat herder.” So begins his humorous yet informative talk about how and why he supports his family by tending to off-grid goats.

In 2014, he published Hemp Bound: Dispatches from the front lines of the next agricultural revolutionin which he shares his life on his farm, explaining the many uses of hemp and how it can help save the planet.

His latest effort was released in 2020, American Hemp Farmer, Adventures and Misadventures of the Cannabis Trade, in which David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, exudes, “A fantastic piece of Americana that points the way to a sustainable future.”

American hemp grower was developed into a TV series, with a pilot and episodes in the box, and no longer in production now, seeking distribution.

The series includes visits to the Rosebud Sioux tribal lands, with in-depth advice on its organic hemp cultivation. Other tours of the show include George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, with Fine hand-harvesting, wearing a full outfit of colonial-style hemp clothing, of course.

Doug Fine: Evangelizing Sustainable Living

As detailed in his TEDx Talk, his first experience with nature was moving to rural Alaska in 2003, where he learned subsistence fishing, catching salmon from the wild.

He liked the idea of ​​sourcing food from the backyard, so to speak. This, he said, put him in touch with what he calls the native gene, or gene I, reminding humans of our paleolithic roots to live off the land as hunters and gatherers.

“Despite all of our digital age gear, as humans we are still the same hunter-gatherers that we have been for tens of thousands of years,” he said. “I feel my best and most relaxed when I go out to milk a goat at first light, with the local owls returning from date night. For me, it’s that feeling of living the way you’re meant to live.

The experience in Alaska reawakened a vital part of himself that he has been cultivating ever since, moving to New Mexico two years later, establishing his Funky Butte Ranch, to nurture his soul, with the end result of giving him a feeling of contentment. Balance, he said, between the digital age and our indigenous selves.

And then there’s climate change, for those who understand the ramifications.

“We’re bottom of ninth with two climate change takedowns, and we have a game plan,” he advised. “Teaching this to everyone is my daily job.”

And he teaches, with courses offered on his website, as well as hundreds of conferences around the world under his belt.

The highest-profile speech to date has been a call to the United Nations, in association with the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD), an organization working for better drug policies in the United States. global scale. In this nearly five-minute interview, he urged change in the failed war on drugs.

On February 27, he will be the keynote speaker at SXSW’s Eco-Ag conference in Montana for its 50th anniversary, with the event airing on C-SPAN.

His “Johnny Hempseed” journey teaching the citizens of Earth how to help heal the planet is seemingly endless, as he shows up decked in hemp from head to toe, including hemp boxers made by his longtime companion. dated.

Doug Fine on his Funky Butte Ranch, New Mexico. Courtesy of Doug Fine.

Hemp can heal the planet

The statistics on the sustainability of industrial hemp are remarkable, when you think of all the trees felled over the years, not to mention the amount of plastics that now litter the earth that could have been made with hemp and other plants. .

“The banning of cannabis, and then of industrial hemp, was a terrible mistake made by a great country,” he explained from the ranch. “In my lectures, I bring with me a small plastic goat made of hemp, created using a 3D printer. We don’t need to use petroleum by-products, we never have.

The benefits of industrial hemp are numerous, being able to be used for everything from fuel, to building materials, to extracting toxins from the soil after contamination – demonstrated in what is now Ukraine, at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear fusion, where thousands of hemp plants have been planted.

Fine’s own hemp seeds from his farm are being used in an experiment to clean up contaminated soil in a University of New Mexico study, with initial reports of great success in uranium mining.

“I can confidently write that hemp cleans up radioactive soils,” he wrote in a blog post on Vote Hemp. “No, I heard it was, or I wish it was, or even someone told me they used it in Chernobyl. That’s actually the case, according to this study.

As explained in an article published by the Global Hemp Associations, the process is called Phytotech, in which plants can actually decontaminate the soil by attracting toxins – hemp being exceptionally efficient in the process, decontaminating at a very high rate, consuming chromium, lead, copper, nickel, etc.

Cleaning air and soil quality isn’t new to plants, but our understanding of how they work is.

“When you look at how many trees it takes to make anything, and how many years it took for those trees to grow big enough to use, it’s incredible ignorance on our part to ignore those facts. “, he explained. “Before we started synthesizing petroleum by-products, everything we made and used came from the earth, and everything was regenerative and sustainable. There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t turn things around. »

To give an example, as noted by the European Industrial Hemp Association, hemp contains more than 65-70% cellulose, while wood contains around 40%. The Ministry of Hemp advises that one acre of hemp can produce as much paper as four to 10 acres of trees over a 20 year cycle. Hemp stalks grow in four months, while trees take 20 to 80 years, depending on the species.

You can see why the ‘Plant for the Planet’ movement was founded, encouraging humans to plant as many trees as they can, with the goal of one trillion trees planted worldwide by 2030. .

“It’s so obvious,” Fine lamented. “Hemp paper is more durable than paper made from trees because it doesn’t break down over time. Building materials made from hemp are also mold and fire resistant. Not to mention the devastating effect of deforestation on the climate and the health of the planet.

Climate change on the doorstep

Several years ago, a massive 130,000-acre wildfire hit Funky Butte Ranch, devastating years of hard work on the farm.

“It’s not a dress rehearsal, it’s really happening now, and it’s on the doorstep,” Fine said of climate change and the everlasting fires, super storms and floods around the world he predicted. years ago.

Fine said he saw a bear running away from the wildfire and then attacked all but one of his goats as he told the story to show the collateral damage of the devastation.

“The destruction affects everything,” he continued. “Fires, floods and rising waters from melting glaciers. All of this compels me to keep talking, to keep teaching, and to keep growing regenerative hemp. The good news is that we now have two new kids on the farm, blessings abound!

The ever-hopeful ending explained that not all of us need to become farmers, but we can begin to understand the process by growing a little bit of something, even if it’s a bunch of basil in a pot on a city balcony.

He believes that farmers can lead the way, while being supported by the masses through small changes to the way we live every day.

“Supporting small local farmers by buying local produce, getting produce from cooperatives or community-supported farmers markets, or even working in community gardens, are all valuable contributions,” he assumed. . “Who knows, you might find, like me, that farming or gardening and growing your own food are the most fun activities you will have outside of the bedroom!”

For more information about Doug Fine, visit dougfine.com.