Film Premiere: Hemp’s Surprising Story

From the oil fields of southern Alberta to the hemp fields of Wickenheiser Organic Farms, our newest film release is the story of a quirky ingredient and a courageous farmer, with a bit of drama seasoning the plot along the way.

The setting is the Canadian plains, where Bernie Wickenheiser cultivates a vast green patch of hemp, acres of jagged leaves unfurled across a rich veganic landscape. The vibrancy of the crop masks the suspense of the summer, when the harvest, the farm and even the ideals of veganic farming seemed to be all on the line.

Bernie remembers: “I put in hemp seed in early June, and two weeks down the road since we had so much rain the weeds started to come and actually started outgrowing the hemp, so what I had to do is make a major decision.”

Someone who cared less about the land and the consumer might have been tempted to spray the fields with herbicide to destroy the weeds. It was an option that would certainly be easy to rationalize.

But Bernie is not a conventional farmer, in any sense. Instead of giving himself a loophole, he gambled with his livelihood and plowed under the entire crop, then set about to replant the field.

“What I did was cultivate the whole field again and I re-seeded it,” he says. “But it was a 100 percent gamble, seeding it quite a bit later. All it takes sometimes is one year of hard driving rain and it stimulates so many weeds to grow, and it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re not going to win. Sometimes you have to just plow the field under.”

That kind of iron integrity is common in the veganic farmers we meet on our journeys across the Canadian heartland and throughout North America. There’s a solid core of conscience that ensures that these hardy individuals never have to think twice about doing the right thing. And so day after day, season after season, that is what they do: live up to their own high standards, without a government regulator or trade association representative in sight.

Begin your visit with our film premiere below. Or enjoy the video along with photos and an essay on our Web site: