Hemp FAQ

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Santa Rosa Junior College Hemp Agriculture
New Program in Development
Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why are you offering this new program?

Industrial hemp represents a multi-billion dollar industry and is poised to grow exponentially following federal legalization in 2018. Part of SRJC’s mission as a community college is to train students for high-demand careers. SRJC will be the first community college in California—and possibly the United States—to offer a fully-accredited certificate and AS degree program focused on hemp.

Furthermore, the biology, growth, and development of the hemp plant make it a highly versatile and effective educational tool for demonstrating important concepts in plant science, botany, horticulture, and sustainable agriculture.

2. What degree or certificate can students obtain through this program?

SRJC has an existing certificate and degree in Environmental Horticulture: Nursery Management. Agriculture Department Faculty are revising this program to focus on Hemp Agriculture. The certificate and degree revisions are in process but students can take classes now in our Horticulture and Sustainable Agriculture programs if they want to learn about hemp cultivation. Those courses will count towards the new certificate and degree in Hemp Agriculture.

3. When does the new program launch?

We are planning for the revised certificate and degree to be in the SRJC catalog in fall 2020. However, students can enroll in classes in spring 2020 to get a head start on their coursework. SRJC counselors have a complete list of proposed courses for the new Hemp Agriculture certificate.

4. How can students enroll in this program?

For spring 2020, students that want to study hemp can register for specific classes in the Environmental Horticulture or Sustainable Agriculture programs. These classes will count towards the revised certificate in Hemp Agriculture in fall 2020. Students can meet with a counselor to review which classes are being offered.

5. Who should students, parents or the media contact if they have questions about the program?

They can contact the Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Benjamin Goldstein, at bgoldstein@santarosa.edu

6. Who are the key faculty involved?

Dr. George Sellu teaches Plant Science and Horticulture courses. Dr. Sellu has a PhD in Agricultural Science/Education from UC Davis.

Dr. Joshua Beniston teaches Soil Science and Sustainable Agriculture courses. Dr. Beniston has a PhD in Soil Science from The Ohio State University.

Joel Grogan has a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Oregon and holds numerous industry licenses and certifications. He teaches Plant Identification, Landscape Construction, and Horticulture.

7. How is hemp different than marijuana?

Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is a genetically distinct biotype of Cannabis sativa grown for fiber, seed or oil. In federal law, hemp by definition contains less than 0.3% THC, the compound in marijuana known for its psychoactive effects (the euphoric “high”).

Hemp is used in the production of a wide range of products, including food and beverages, cosmetics and personal care products, nutritional supplements, fabrics and textiles, construction and insulation materials, and other manufactured goods.

In addition, hemp is used to produce non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD), which has shown enormous promise for a variety of medical applications.

8. Is hemp legal?

Yes. Cultivating hemp is now legal at the federal and state levels. At the local level, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors carved out an exemption from the temporary County moratorium on hemp cultivation to allow SRJC to develop an education and research program.

9. What will these classes prepare students for? Are you prepping them to join the marijuana industry?

Students will gain the knowledge and skills to sustainably cultivate the hemp plant Cannabis sativa L. They can apply their knowledge and skills in the hemp or marijuana industries. The college does not take a stance on the industry in which students choose to work outside of school or upon graduation.

10. Will you grow any marijuana now or down the road?

No. The college follows local, state and federal laws. Marijuana is still a Schedule 1 drug and federally illegal. SRJC will not consider growing marijuana while it is against federal law.

11. What research are you conducting?

We are investigating the following agronomic and educational questions:

  • What are baseline good farming practices for sustainable outdoor cultivation of hemp in Sonoma County?
  • What are the technical skills and educational learning objectives needed to prepare a skilled workforce for hemp cultivation in California?
  • What are the most effective teaching methods and lab activities for meeting the learning objectives and developing the technical skills for hemp cultivation?

12. What safety precautions are you taking?

Shone Farm has locked gates and surveillance cameras already in place. SRJC District Police regularly patrol all campus facilities, including Shone Farm. The industrial hemp plants do not have any monetary or “street” value and for research and training purposes only.

13. Are you going to sell hemp flower or plant material?

The hemp program is an educational endeavor. However, hemp is now a legal agricultural commodity. Shone Farm typically sells all of our farm commodities (fruits, vegetables, livestock, olive oil, etc.) as part of teaching students the business side of agriculture. Shone Farm may consider entering the commercial market in the future.

In 2020 we will explore the potential for a hemp nursery business within our Horticulture program to propagate and sell high-quality hemp nursery stock to the local agricultural community.

14. How much hemp are you growing?

The farm will have a modest-sized test plot of less than an acre (0.8 acres). This scale is consistent with what small-scale Sonoma County farmers might plant alongside their other agricultural commodities (orchards, row crops, pasture, etc.) to diversify their farming operations.

15. Is the hemp plant odor a problem?

No. There may be some odor associated with the hemp plant while flowering but it will be no more of a nuisance then other common odors associated with farming operations, such as livestock manure, compost, diesel exhaust or the famous “Sonoma aroma.” Plant odor is harmless and protected by the Sonoma County “right to farm” ethos.

16. Will this increase the farm’s electrical and water expenses?

No. Growing hemp outdoors requires no electricity and this plant requires less water than many other row crops currently grown at Shone Farm.

17. What kinds of fertilizers will you be using? Are they sustainable and will they impact the surrounding environment?

Shone Farm applies certified organic compost and OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) certified foliar fertilizer, both of which are sustainable.

18. Will this impact other crops grown at the farm?

No. Hemp grows well alongside other fruit and vegetable crops. We will conduct research on terpenes (odor-causing compounds) and their impact on wine grape skins using our student (non-commercial) wine grapes.

19. Are you working with the Teamsters Union on an Apprenticeship Program?

We are exploring with Teamsters Local 665 a registered apprenticeship option within the SRJC Hemp Agriculture program, but are still in the development phase.