SRJC developing new hemp program

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Santa Rosa Junior College’s Agriculture Department is developing a new hemp agriculture program that will train students in the cultivation of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.), with a goal of launching the program in fall 2020. SRJC is the first community college in California to develop a certificate and degree program focused on hemp.

Beginning spring 2020, students can take hemp-focused courses within the existing SRJC Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture programs. Courses include Introduction to Plant Science, Soil and Plant Nutrition, Integrated Pest Management, Organic Crop Planning and Production, and several other courses that will be included in the new Hemp Agriculture certificate and degree.

Benjamin Goldstein, the dean of agriculture, natural resources, and culinary arts, said that he is proud that SRJC will be at the forefront of training students for this industry. “One of our top priorities is ensuring our career education programs align with current industry trends,” he said in a press release announcing the news. “Hemp is a versatile plant at the center of a multi-billion dollar legal industry for medicine, fiber, oil, seeds, textiles and more. We are preparing our students with the knowledge and skills to be competitive in the workplace.”

Hemp is a genetically distinct biotype of cannabis sativa that is grown for fiber, seed or oil. It is used in the production of products such as food, beverages, cosmetics, nutritional supplements, fabrics, textiles, construction materials, and other manufactured goods. Unlike marijuana, hemp is legal at both the federal and state levels and does not contain significant levels of THC, the compound in marijuana known for its psychoactive effects. Hemp is used to product non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD), which has shown enormous promise in medical applications.

“Hemp is a dynamic crop with a myriad of uses,” said faculty member Dr. George Sellu in the release. “It is ideal for teaching plant science and plant propagation techniques in indoor and outdoor environments while addressing the tenets of agro-ecological sustainability. As a plant science instructor, I am thrilled to utilize hemp in my classes as an educational tool.”

“There is no other community college doing this, and it’s so relevant in California,” said Norma Gomez, a current SRJC student. “There are thousands of jobs available for students with knowledge of hemp agriculture. Plus, we can get real hands-on experience growing hemp at Shone Farm.”

SRJC Shone Farm is growing a 0.8-acre test plot of hemp plants. This cultivation site is registered with the Sonoma County Ag Commissioners Office and follows all federal, state and county legal and regulatory requirements.

It is the first community college hemp farming operation in California.

Learn more at shonefarm.santarosa.edu/hemp-faq.

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