What You Need To Know
- College of Central Florida has Vintage Farm Campus in Ocala
- Campus has license to grow industrial hemp
- Farm gives students chance to learn to grow hemp
- Program also teaches industrial uses, agribusiness
“It is a great advantage to have this setting and have the hands-on experience and not just being in the classroom on the textbook,” CF Horticultural Management Program student Ceiara Riffle said.
Rob Wolf, CF dean of business, technology and career and technical Education, said, “The students we attract, they want experiential learning.”
Now, the location in Ocala is adding new programming, after becoming the first state college in Florida to receive a license to produce industrial hemp.
“So the exciting part is to bring students in and teach them how to grow a new crop for the state of Florida that has a lot of potential in many different industries,” Tavis Douglass, CF associate professor of agribusiness, said.
The hemp seeds were planted in February, and the students got to work right away, both indoors and out.
“There’s multiple ways that you can grow it, whether it be with a drip irrigation which we’re doing outdoors. As well as indoors in the greenhouse, where we’re doing a more hydroponic growing system,” Riffle said.
Instructors are incorporating hemp into all of their agribusiness courses — including irrigation, pest and disease control, management and marketing.
“So all of our students can see that all of our classes matter,” Douglass said. “There’s a reason they’re taking agricultural economics as well as some of the other courses. So we’re able to tie it all together.”
Industrial hemp contains trace amounts of THC and has many uses, including some in the livestock industry.
“With Ocala itself being the horse capital of the world, seeing those different avenues like animal bedding and the different ways you can use it, it is nice to be able to open people’s eyes that there are other things it’s used for,” Riffle said.
This fall, the Vintage Farm Campus will add some hemp workshops available to the general public.